LAMAR, MO.--- A youth development service organization in Barton County is working through some issues. This is a new chapter for the organization, and they're taking it one page at a time. About Our Kids was recently told that six of the grants they applied for this year would not be awarded to them. Leaders say this won't stop them from providing a safe place for more than 80 young people.
Jerod Morey is the executive director for About Our Kids in Barton County. He says the recent let down has left leaders stumped but not defeated.
"Grants, fortunately and unfortunately, is our way of funding. Without grant funds, it makes it very difficult to operate, which unfortunately is the circumstances that we are facing today," said Jerod Morey, A.O.K. Executive Director.
About Our Kids Board President Kathy Jenkins says the organization will do whatever it takes to continue serving the counties young people.
"I would think that probably it has to do with the economy. We've been very successful and we're very proud of the success that we've had with our grant history," said Kathy Jenkins, About Our Kids Board President.
For grandmother Lynn Finley, this is place she calls invaluable.
"Its just been a wonderful, wonderful resource and I just can't imagine what will happen without it if it doesn't keep going," said Lynn Finley, A.O.K. Client.
She's currently raising two of her grandchildren and one of them attends A.O.K. everyday. She says this is a place that keeps young people out of trouble.
"Well, it's security and they're not out running the street and they're getting the camaraderie that they'd be looking for on the streets, but they're getting it here in a safe and controlled environment," said Finley.
The organizations provides education, meals, and a safe place.
"We're going to be okay through the end of the year. After that, I don't know what we're going to do, but we're not going to go anywhere. We will find a way, we have for 14 years," said Morey.
Leaders say although this is a new chapter, it is a chapter they are facing head on.
"We're positive and optimistic that things will work through not only for A.O.K., but more importantly, for our community kids and parents," said Jenkins.
A.O.K. leaders believe in empowering young people to make healthy life choices. They offer after school and summer programs for more than 80 Barton County kids in grades kindergarten through eighth.
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