BERLIN — A struggling non-profit made an appeal to the town of Berlin this week to assist in keeping the long-standing organization relevant in the community.
BRAVE, or Berlin Reclaims Attitude and Value Enhancement, has been a force for good in the area for more than two decades, according to representative Diana Purnell.
“BRAVE came together because of partnerships with the town of Berlin, with the Worcester County Health Department, with Berlin law-enforcement,” she said, “and other organizations in the community and churches because we saw the need for kids in the area.”
BRAVE “operates a lot of volunteer services in the community,” according to Purnell, including a youth summer camp that had 22 members ages 6 through 11 last year.
“Each child enrolled in our summer camp program is offered the opportunity to explore many different establishments,” she told the Town Council, “such as the Sturgis one-room school house, the Discovery Center in Pocomoke and the Philadelphia Zoo which are places they may not have been before.”
Over the past 20 years, Purnell said that BRAVE has endeavored to promote positive values and a higher quality of living for everyone in the community but especially young people. However, the economic downturn that began in 2008 is starting to take a toll on the organization.
“We need help. We have a lot of volunteers but things have changed drastically,” Purnell said. “Because of the economic climate a lot of parents can’t afford the small tuition we have for the kids.”
While there are other youth organizations in the area, including the town’s official youth program provider Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS), Purnell asked the council to consider the history BRAVE has with the town and the partnerships it has been building for years, especially with the police department.
“As the climate of our community changes, BRAVE understands the need of having a well-established organization such as ours, as vital to continuing to guide our youth in the right direction,” she said.
BRAVE does enjoy a positive reputation in Berlin, agreed Mayor Gee Williams, especially with some of their niche services.
“I think the ‘Cool Kids’ part of that program has become very well known, too, sort of a brand within a brand,” he said.
Williams told Purnell the town will be considering all requests from non-profits in April and will have an answer regarding possible grant funding before the budget is officially adopted in June. While he didn’t make any guarantees, he did “anticipate good things” for BRAVE.