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On Friday, our Fellows continued their exploration of Greenfield with our partner Community Action of Franklin and Hampshire Counties.

In our third visit to Greenfield, we had the opportunity to meet with Jennie Davis-Bulko and Allen Fowler, who work with the Youth Programs of Community Action. Jennie and Allen discussed the variety of programs that they currently offer, including both leadership and workforce development.

Below are a few thoughts from our Fellows after our meeting with Jennie and Allen.

One thing we talked about that interested me the most was Recovery Schools. These are high schools for young people who have addictions, specifically heroin. One reason why heroin is so hard to kick is because it is extremely hard to live in the same area with the same friends who use without replacing. These schools would remove kids from those  situation but also treat the recovery process. Another huge problem for heroin users is the stigma they face which can often make it hard to get a job, even if they are sober. Attending recovery school may decrease stigma because it shows commitment to recovery but also could specifically design programs for job readiness. Is this something we could do at the old Northfield Campus…?

  • Eli Nicolson

Meeting with Jennie and Allen gave me a lot more insight to the issues that programs which target youth need to deal with. From the time of the application process, I knew I wanted to work with youth who need help to reach their full potential. This program is completely youth oriented and it showed me how difficult such programs can be. One has to work around the ever-changing mind of a teenager, difficult home situations, stresses of school, and the differing ambition levels. It was a lot to take in, for such a short trip but it was still very meaningful to me.

  • Tyriq Bostic

My second takeaway from this visit is that consistency is key. We first saw this idea in Yunus's 22 cent dilemma (when he did not give the women 22 cents even though it could have changed her life because it would undermine his system). This idea was furthered by Dino at the food bank, in the unwavering allowances on what people can take (regardless of dietary restrictions), when the pantry is open, and who is eligible to receive food. Dino also shared with us that he will never turn people away who come looking for food, but if they are not eligible to sign up for his food bank, then he will assist them to find a food bank where they are eligible. This is because he must stick to the system. Jennie specifically mentioned the same idea; that they are very strict about the services they can provide, and what they can’t. If they can not provide a service, youth programs is happy to help you find it, but can not yield from its ways. Consistency is so important (if at times difficult in practice), because it prevents the compromising of a system, that benefits many, for the benefit of one.

  • Lydia Smith