Harundale center sees $22,000 in funding restored

March 09, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

County Executive Robert R. Neall has managed to restore about half the money cut from the budget of the Harundale Youth and Family Service Center last year, but none of it is going to help the center expand its services and shrink its waiting list.

The one-time grant of $22,000 has been used to hire someone to help to reduce the waiting list for programs, forcing the center to look to the private sector for help.

Private firms have offered center officials the $250,000 it would take to turn the Harundale space into offices and rooms for group therapy and private counseling.

The Rouse Co. of Columbia, which owns Harundale Mall, where the center is located, offered to double the 1,400 square feet it already gives the youth center rent-free. But someone else would have to refurbish the space.

In addition, various groups, including Habitat for Humanity, have promised to carve out the rooms, and architecture students at the University of Maryland have drafted plans.

But Adel O'Rourke, the center's director, still is angry with county officials.

"I feel like I was being punished for being able to raise money privately," she said. "When you . . . can get the private sector involved to this degree, it really means something. We have a proven track record of doing a good job, or they would not have been this generous."

The center, a 25-year-old operation, had anticipated getting $125,000 from the county, but that figure was cut to $78,310 this fiscal year, just as the expansion program was to begin.

The center counsels about 150 families a year, in addition to hundreds of children, teen-agers and young adults.

"All along I have heard from every politician involved that I should get the private sector involved," Ms. O'Rourke says. "So I have and I still get cut. I don't know what else I can do but plead and beg for money. I've been called relentless about this, but the county doesn't have to put any money toward the building of this or for rent and we provide many services that are used by county residents."

Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall, said the county executive believes in the program and credits them with doing a lot of good work in the community.

"If a program works and you believe in it, there is nothing else you can do but fight and scratch to keep it going," Ms. O'Rourke said.

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