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By Gerry Boyle '78
The chain of events that directed Tracy Schloss '03 to Waterville's South End started serendipitously.
Schloss, a philosophy and art double major, mentioned to Professor David Simon (art) that she was interested in urban planning. Simon suggested she talk to Waterville's Planning Director Ann Beverage (wife of Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Parker Beverage). Ann Beverage told Schloss about the city government's ongoing focus on the South End, one of the poorer parts of the city, and Schloss's first visit there last winter proved an eye-opener. "I had no idea of the severe economic demographics of the Waterville area," she said.
The area's problems were no secret to city officials. Since 2001, initiatives aimed at improving the South End have included upgrading housing there, assigning a neighborhood police officer and opening a teen center. Schloss, however, concluded that there still was a serious need for after-school care, with less than 30 percent of South End children in grades K-5 (40 of 177) participating in after-school programs at the Alfond Youth Recreation Center, across town. "That leaves a large number unserved," she said.
Many an academic inquiry would have ended there, with a convincing quantitative analysis. For Schloss it was merely a stimulus to action.
She proposed the South End Learning Center, a facility to provide mentoring and tutoring through Colby Cares About Kids--a program that already matches more than 200 Colby students with local schoolchildren who benefit from regular contact with a concerned, older mentor. Offerings at the Learning Center would include reading, math, computer technology, arts and crafts and character development, according to Beverage.
Quantitative analysis and concrete proposal completed, graduation looming, and still Schloss was not ready to call her work in Waterville done. Schloss, with others, launched herself into the next stages, including a door-to-door canvas of the area to determine whether residents were interested in such a program.
For those who had been working in the South End, the arrival of the energetic student was a boost. "We expected good things and we got great things," said William Bonney, the Waterville police officer assigned to the neighborhood. As the project gathered momentum, Schloss turned back to the Colby community for reinforcements. "I said, 'Let me see what I can do for you at Colby,'" she said.
The Colby South End Coalition was established in the spring, the latest and one of the more ambitious on a list of community service programs run by and for students. Program leaders were appointed this spring, including two students, Emily Brostek '06 and Alan Ashbaugh '05, already familiar with the area. It wasn't a tough sell.
"I said, 'This is a very wonderful way to tangibly help people who are in real poverty close to campus,'" Schloss said.
The project is moving forward on other fronts. Colby, the city and a host of area agencies such as the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program have teamed to try to secure federal funding that would provide resources for the Learning Center, a community garden, a food pantry and hiring of a coordinator for community outreach projects, including Colby Cares About Kids, the Colby Volunteer Center and the Colby South End Coalition. "It's a very large initiative," said Lauren Walsh, coordinator for Greater Waterville Communities for Children, who is assisting with the grant proposal. "When Tracy's project came up, it really fit well."
Schloss graduated in May and planned to do an internship with a public relations firm specializing in public policy. She promised to keep tabs on the project, even if it's from a distance. "I wouldn't say my involvement is done," she said. "But it's starting to pass out of my hands and into the hands of the people who can really instigate change in the community."
The project was left in good hands, and progress continues. Since Schloss left Colby, the planners turned their attention to a parcel of land on Water Street next to the Green Street Park, where a skateboard park is proposed. The Waterville City Council will be asked to approve the parcel as a site for the Learning Center. Colby was is? about to apply for federal funding of a unit director for the center and for computer equipment for it. Other funding sources were are? being pursued and there was is? no sign that the project had has? lost momentum. "They're very tenacious people who are involved here," Beverage said.
One of them, Schloss, is in New York, working in public relations by day, reading reports from Waterville by night. "I send her messages because I know it's really important to her," Beverage said. "I just want to keep in touch."
The Colby College Museum of Art has grown steadily in stature over the
past four decades. Lynne Moss Perricelli '95 looks at the museum's past,
present, and future.
Pride and Prejudice
Gay Colby students are demanding more visibility and inclusion in the
College community. Colby details their concerns, and those of
students who think the gay community has gone too far.
Construction begins for The Colby Green, the centerpiece of the
College's most significant expansion in a half-century.
All that Jazz
Vinnie Martucci '77 composes and improvises to make a life in music
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