This week, a front page story is about Youth & Family Counseling Agency Oyster Bay-East Norwich that tells of the effect Nassau County funding cuts will have on their services. Barbara Rakusin, YFCA executive director, said the B.O.B. program held at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in the beach area near the boat basin will be affected.

The Better Oyster Bay program is a grass roots program that began with Mary De Sario looking for a place for youth to go who wanted to begin to express their independence. They want a program that allows them just to get together with friends and socialize in an unstructured environment. The program was being offered in Suffolk County and Mary visited it to see how it was run.

She came back to Oyster Bay and proposed to offer it to our youth but a key ingredient was needed - insurance. For several years the program floundered until the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay stepped up to provide the insurance under their Rotary International Foundation. With that, and their presence as volunteers in the program, along with members of other service groups and churches it got underway. It turns out that the adults too enjoy an evening out on the beach.

There have been lots of glitches in the program, including lighting which was delayed as the town dealt with contractors to do the needed work on the electricity in the park. Now with everything in place it is in jeopardy.

It is the teens who are the most underserved population in Oyster Bay-East Norwich. Young children have services galore. As youth turn into teens their options are cut short. We don't have a skate park, or a roller skating rink or an ice skating rink: places where youth can learn to do their own thing and recreate themselves independently. That is something to think about in this caring area.

Please do consider helping YFCA funding. Times are tough but children need that tender loving care, especially now. Each year in a child's life is unique in enriching their life experiences that when missed are gone.

You can call YFCA at 922-6867 to find out how to offer them your help. Of course, checks are always welcome. - DFK

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