In a tough budget year, it fell to teens like Michael Greene to make the pitch for money.
The pitches were personal as not-for-profit groups appealed to the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee at a hearing Thursday night for continued funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
Torri Gannon recounted how when her twins got into trouble, Street Outreach Workers, a program run by the Greater New Haven Family Alliance, was there to help.
“The twins do everything the same,” she said, “and they both got in trouble. I work, I’m not at home, and I can’t watch them twenty-four-seven.”
While her kids are still not perfect, she said, they are making progress.
“They’re even helping tutor other kids now,” said Gannon (pictured).
Michael Greene (pictured at the top of the story), a student at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School (pictured, left), who appeared with two fellow students to support funding for the Shubert Theater, said that program, in turn, had helped keep him and his friends off the streets.
“Arts and creativity are definitely the way to keep kids in the right mindset and out of the streets,” he said. “I know it helps keep me out of a lot of trouble, because I don’t live in the best area, so it’s really important.”
The groups made their cases as the Finance Committee faced what Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark called a “subdued” lineup of organizations seeking funding for everything from outreach to cultural events.
The atmosphere, she said, differed greatly from the same time last year, when group representatives packed a “very contentious” meeting until after midnight. This year, the committee got to go home at 9 p.m.
“From the very beginning,” she said, “my opinion was, the condition of the country is so serious that the majority of people who were coming to talk to us were resigned to the fact that this is a totally different situation, and everybody realizes that there really isn’t any money.”
Despite the lack of contention, the evening’s testimony seemed to shore up support for some at-risk funding. Clark said she felt the groups making presentations this year were better organized and better represented than ever before.
Family Alliance Director Barbara Tinney asked the committee for support of the outreach workers group’s request for $200,000 from the city’s general budget. Committee chairman Yusuf Shah pledged to help.
“I don’t even need to listen to the testimony because I see your work in the streets,” he said. “I’m happy that you have reached as many kids as you have, and we just hope we can do more for you a a city.”
Greene received a similar reassurance from Shah on the Shubert.
“It’s our job to talk about the money,” Shah said. “We’ll make sure something happens.”