$4K grants to support youth jobs with Recreation Department, theater group

  • Muhammad Munir is a lifeguard at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area. A $4,000 grant the Greenfield Recreation Department received through the state’s Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Program is helping to pay for the nine staff lifeguards who rotate shifts at the swimming area. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2021 3:17:57 PM

The Greenfield Recreation Department and Hilltown Youth Recovery Theatre have each received $4,000 to support youth job programs through the state’s Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Program.

The program, which runs out of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office, awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to 74 organizations across the state to fund summer jobs for youths that are focused on promoting health and wellness, according to a press release from her office.

With its $4,000, the Greenfield Recreation Department will support its youth employment program, specifically the nine staff lifeguards, who rotate multiple shifts at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area.

“It is much-needed,” said Recreation Director Christy Moore, who was at the swimming area last week working on cleanup after recent rainstorms. “The revenue from the pool is what I used to pay my staff down here, so it’s definitely been a challenging year with the rain — with Mother Nature making her force well-known in our region.”

The swimming area reopened Wednesday morning after closing earlier this month due to high bacteria levels. However, lifeguards remained employed throughout, helping with cleanup work. Moore noted the Recreation Department is one of the largest youth employers in the city, and potentially the county, with about 30 employed for summer programming, and about 15 during the school year.

In Shelburne Falls, the $4,000 toward the Hilltown Youth Recovery Theatre will allow Founder and Artistic Director Jonathan Diamond to pay a group of youth faculty for the summer.

“It’s allowing me to pay for them,” he explained. “And by freeing up that money, it’s also letting me do this Youth Corps Program … allowing them to create art.”

The youth faculty will mentor students, many of whom struggle from addiction or depression and other mental health challenges, and they’ll run a three-week theater workshop.

“They’re writing the script, writing the score; they’re directing it, and running the art room,” Diamond said. “They’re really involved in every aspect of it.”

One of the youth employees working for him this summer is Jeremy Mezoff, a student at Naropa Valley in Boulder, Colo.

“This program has been super important,” said Mezoff. “It is phenomenal creating a safe space for these kids.”

A native of Atlanta, Ga., Mezoff said he grew up in a much more diverse place than Shelburne Falls.

“(The theater) is a beautiful melting pot, and it seems like a safe space for kids,” he said.

The performance the youth faculty will be helping to produce is “The Phantom Tollbooth,” which will take place at Berkshire East Mountain Resort on July 31 and Aug. 3, Mezoff said. Because of limited capacity, people will have to call ahead at 413- 625-2100 to make reservations.

According to the press release from Healey’s office, this is the state’s seventh year running the grant program.

“Our summer jobs program provides hundreds of teens across the state with an opportunity to challenge themselves, gain new skills and make a difference in their own communities by promoting healthy living,” Healey said. “We have worked hard to continue this program each year and are grateful to our grantees for making important adjustments to their programs to ensure employed teens are safe as we recover from the pandemic.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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