Power Of Community Pride

Cleaning up the city is one of the focuses for GA Family Services Accountability and Responsibility Program.

On Thursday, members of the program painted the northbound side of the viaduct along Foote Avenue near Jamestown High School. The program also has beautified the end of Fourth Street by the Landmark Restaurant and Rexel, and cut down weeds along Winsor Street. Billy Torres, GA Family Services group facilitator, said there are three students in the program, which combines counseling and community services.

“We’re painting the viaduct to get the graffiti off of it; trying to make it look nice,” he said. “Kids walk here every day to school. The less they see of this stuff the better.”

Torres said the Accountability and Responsibility Program is for at-risk youths to inspire positive thinking and a sense of pride in their community through their cleanup work. Torres said the program, which runs for eight weeks, is part of the Love My Neighborhood Project.

“The kids have been upbeat and eager to work,” he said. “They have been really helpful.”

Torres said future projects include painting the southbound side of the Foote Avenue viaduct. Also, Torres said there will be other projects done throughout the city in the coming months.

Karl Wiggins, GA Family Services vice president, said the funding for the program originally came from the state Department of Health and Human Services. However, he said the contract with the state has ended, but Chautauqua Tapestry has bridged the gap in funding until a new contract can be finalized with state officials.

“This is a preventive program. It is to reduce the number of youth at risk of placement out of home,” he said. “It gives them a chance to give back to their community. It gives them an opportunity to give back to understand how their behavior can impact the community.”

Wiggins said if the program continues to grow, the program could expand into northern Chautauqua County.