Blog: June 2013

Saturday, June 29

The Times of Trenton
Written by: Jenna Pizzi/The Times of Trenton 

TRENTON — With the morning sun glimmering on the rippled Delaware River, paddlers loaded into long, slim outrigger canoes set off on a two day, 50-mile journey.

The paddlers, in distinctive blue and yellow canoes, are not justmaking the trip for the physical fitness and scenic views. They are raising awareness and money for Urban Promise summer camp programs in Trenton, Camden and Wilmington, Del.

Urban Promise is a nonprofit that started in Camden 25 years ago, providing after school and summer programs for inner-city kids. Children receive help with their studies and managing their lives. The program also emphasizes Christian spiritual development and leadership.

Carl Clark was a participant in the Camden program as he was growing up and, as an adult, started the Trenton branch in 2010. Yesterday, at 7 a.m., he helped to prepare the canoes for the trek south from the Duck Island starting point. Twenty-five children and adults are on this trip.

“I really didn’t have any role models who were adults that I could really look up to,” Clark, 32, said, remembering how he was at age 6 when he met Urban Promise founder Bruce Main. The program helped him to acquire character and wisdom, he said. “That’s necessary for the development of a young person,” Clark said.

He decided to bring the program to Trenton, leaving behind a career as a banker, because he wanted to provide the same hope to children and teens that he had when he was growing up. Clark first came to Trenton when he attended The College of New Jersey on a full scholarship in nearby Ewing.
“We do just about everything under the sun for development of young kids and teenagers,” he said.

Clark said the summer camp programs are led by teenagers in the community who are called “street leaders.” The high-school aged street leaders go through a class where they learn leadership and life skills such as interviewing and resume building, then they have to interview for the job as counselor for the summer camp. The teens are then paid by Urban Promise to be counselors for the younger children, usually ages 6 to 12, who are enrolled in the free camp.

“Some of the children they don’t feel so much hope,” said Marselly Almanzar, an intern with Urban Promise Trenton. “I’ve seen how this can help them achieve so much more.”

Clark said the camp will run at two churches in Trenton this year from July 9 to Aug. 10. The program is sustained mostly by donations, said Phyllis Jones, the board president for Urban Promise Trenton.

Main came up with the idea for the “Paddle for Promise” fundraiser while brainstorming ways for the three regional Urban Promise groups to collaborate.

“We have this whole emphasis on getting kids out doors,” Main said. “Let’s do something on the river.”

He said he called up some friends from the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association and the Philadelphia Police Dragon Boat Team who provided the canoes and some manpower to guide the novice Urban Promise employees along the way.

The group arrived in Camden yesterday afternoon and will row from Camden to Wilmington today. Volunteers from all three locations are using the trip to raise funds for the summer camps. The group from Trenton is looking to raise $2,500.

“We can expand,” he said. “The only thing that can hold us back is finances.”

Clark said his goal is to have an Urban Promise site in each of the city’s four wards and another central site so that he can reach about 500 students in Trenton.

Thursday, June 20

Ramsey Suburban News
Written by: Catherine Carrera

Ramsey — The disparity between the 95 percent graduation rate for Ramsey High School and the 49 percent graduation rate for Camden piqued the interest of one resident enough to take a few steps to improve that statistic.

Five million steps, that is.

John Sample, 49, a 17-year resident, began the "5 Million Steps" initiative last August. Its goal is to raise money for Camden students who attend UrbanPromise, two faith-based private schools in the city.

"I equated walking and hiking to their journey through school and this journey I’m on to reach 5 million steps," Sample said during a recent hike at the Ramapo Valley Reservation in Mahwah. "I just want to help kids, give them a fighting chance at a good education."

Through Facebook, Twitter and his website, 5millionsteps.org, Sample has so far attracted $4,000 in financial support for UrbanPromise with his descriptions of his volunteer work and symbolic walking updates.

With the support of his wife, Meg, and two children, Daniel and Dean, who attend the borough’s public schools, Sample is exceeding his goal of reaching five million steps in two years

As the vice president of the National Basketball Association entertainment, he splits his time between working at his Manhattan office, traveling overseas for his job, coaching his sons’ baseball teams, and hiking at the nearby trails at about 5 a.m. on the weekends.

So much hiking, that, five months into the initiative, he reached two million steps, which he tracks using a pedometer application on his iPhone.

By June he reached 3.6 million steps and he hopes to meet his goal by year’s end.

But, how does walking help with this cause?

"I’m usually climbing these steep areas around the mountain — walking gives me a chance to reflect, it gives me moments of complete silence, and I use these moments to think of the adversity and obstacles these kids climb through each day," Sample said. "It’s not much, but it’s what I can do, on a daily basis."

In fact, the way a town’s financial hardships and poverty levels affect the education a child receives, has been a thought lingering in Sample’s mind since he was an adolescent, growing up in Stamford, Conn., he said.

"I grew up in a pretty average town, typical middle-class family household," Sample said. "A few miles away there was a town where kids didn’t have the same opportunities in school. The poverty levels, I think, were pretty high and it just made me wonder why their school had to suffer because of that."

Six years ago, the thought was triggered again while watching a television special on ABC 20/20 with Diane Sawyer called "Waiting on the world to change." Camden was featured in the segment and UrbanPromise founder Dr. Bruce Main was interviewed about the ways his organization helps students in the city.

Sample first became involved as a student sponsor, donating money toward a child’s education. Feeling the need to do more, he created "5 Million Steps."

"The donations tab is directly linked to UrbanPromise, every donation goes straight to them," Sample said.

"John has secured more than 50 donations, totaling more than $4,000," said Lisi Klus, associate of development and communications for UrbanPromise, who has worked with Sample. "The funds raised by [his initiative] will go directly into life-changing programs like tutoring, experiential learning, job training, and summer camps."

When Sample has a moment, he also visits the students on whom he helps "shine a light," Klus said.

"Beyond his financial support, John has invested many hours in reaching out to the children in our programs. He visited [our schools] to speak with our students, encouraging them to excel academically, develop their talents, and dream big," Klus said. "We are extremely grateful for and inspired by John and supporters like him."

"UrbanPromise lives and breathes because of people like John Sample," said Dr. Bruce Main, founder and president of UrbanPromise. "Without his vision, enthusiasm, commitment, and passion, the impact of our programs, for our country's most vulnerable children, would be greatly diminished."

Thursday, June 20

 

MOUNT LAUREL - Employees from Holman Automotive Group and its subsidiary ARI recently helped raise more than $24,000 in the annual Pedal for Promise event to support the UrbanPromise Academy in Camden.

The Holman-ARI team, consisting of more than 30 bikers and 10 volunteers, was the event’s top fundraiser, bringing in $24,395 in pledges for the May 4 event.

 

“We are proud to support UrbanPromise and the work that they do,” said Frank H. Beideman, vice president of resource development for Holman Automotive.

 

“The children who attend the academy are provided with the opportunity to learnicon1.png and grow through meaningful, real-world experiences.”

 

UrbanPromise is a nonprofit organizationicon1.png dedicated to providing children and youth with the support they need to succeed academically, grow spiritually, and prepare for leadership so they can bring positive change to their own communities.

 

Holman was founded in 1924 and is comprised of more than 25 operating companies, including dealerships in southern New Jersey and southern Florida. ARI is a global vehicleicon1.png fleet management company with more than 2,400 employees worldwide.

 

 

Wednesday, June 19

MOUNT LAUREL — Employees from Holman Automotive Group and its subsidiary ARI recently helped raise more than $24,000 in the annual Pedal for Promise event to support the UrbanPromise Academy in Camden.

The Holman-ARI team, consisting of more than 30 bikers and 10 volunteers, was the event’s top fundraiser, bringing in $24,395 in pledges for the May 4 event.

“We are proud to support UrbanPromise and the work that they do,” said Frank H. Beideman, vice president of resource development for Holman Automotive.

“The children who attend the academy are provided with the opportunity to learn and grow through meaningful, real-world experiences.”

UrbanPromise is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing children and youth with the support they need to succeed academically, grow spiritually, and prepare for leadership so they can bring positive change to their own communities.

Holman was founded in 1924 and is comprised of more than 25 operating companies, including dealerships in southern New Jersey and southern Florida. ARI is a global vehicle fleet management company with more than 2,400 employees worldwide.

 

 

Monday, June 10

Thank you to Conner Strong & Buckelew for painting UrbanPromise's entire sanctuary on June 7! Not only did the group give their time and talents; they also donated $3,000 to cover all costs associated with the project! You guys are the best!

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