Activist rebuffed in youth camp plea Rejection: Management company turns down a request to rent two townhouses for summer activities.

June 11, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

For the past year, Edith Perry has turned her small townhouse in Orchards at Severn into a haven for young people in a neighborhood where poverty, drug-related crime and violence are prevalent.

But with 75 elementary-school aged children expected to enroll in a free day camp she is organizing this summer, the community activist turned to the managers of her complex for help. They turned her down.

Perry's nonprofit organization, People on the Move, wanted to rent two vacant townhouses for July and August from Apartment Services, the management company that runs the complex.

"They said no, flat no," Perry said. "They don't care about us."

Martha S. Poehler, vice president of the company, did not return messages left at her office.

Perry's home in the 8300 block of Deer Run Court served as the headquarters for a summer day camp for more than 20 disadvantaged children last year, and since then has housed an after-school tutoring program.

Perry said she is determined to hold the camp and will try to rent townhouses in nearby neighborhoods, but would need money for a van for transportation.

"If we have to go away from this area for the camp we will do so reluctantly," she said.

People on the Move has applied for state grants, and private individuals are helping to raise money to meet the group's $30,000 budget for the coming year, according to Perry.

The money will pay for activities, materials, and four adult and eight teen-aged counselors for the camp, which is set to run Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from July 15 to Aug. 23. Activities will include field trips, arts and crafts, games, physical exercises and activities to boost the children's self-esteem.

"In the neighborhood that we live in, what [children] see is more negative than positive, and I am trying to show them that they do not have to become involved in crime, and drugs and alcohol," Perry said.

Perry's program is not the only effort to provide activities for children in the community near Van Bokkelen Elementary School, one of two suburban schools threatened with state takeover because of single-digit standardized scores.

Students also can enroll, for fees, in Summer Academy, a weekday morning program operated by the county school system, and in Summer Playground, a program run by the county Department of Parks and Recreation, on weekday afternoons.

The hours of the two programs normally would overlap, but Van Bokkelen Principal Rose Tasker worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks to shift its schedule to the afternoon to allow children to attend the academic program in the morning.

Three hours a day in Summer Academy from July 2 to July 30 would cost $160. Summer Playground, which runs from June 24 to Aug. 2, costs $15 per child or $25 for two or more children in the same family.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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