Grant set to bolster safe fun at parks

Programs geared to families, youth

By Taylor Miles
Globe Correspondent / July 1, 2011

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Officials are welcoming $710,000 in grant money for city youth and family summer programs, only days after a 4-year-old boy was shot amid the crossfire of a gang-related confrontation on a Dorchester playground.

Representatives from The Boston Foundation said they hope their organization’s contributions - $250,000 of which went toward making parks and playgrounds safer with more nighttime activities - will buoy troubled neighborhoods.

“We’re hoping . . . this will go a long way in helping the neighborhoods know there are people who care,’’ said Mary Jo Meisner, a spokeswoman for The Boston Foundation.

The foundation organizes and distributes annual grants with the support of the Yawkey Foundations and other organizations.

Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury received the bulk of the $250,000 “My Summer in the City’’ grant, Meisner said. Twelve community-based organizations across the city received funding yesterday evening at an event in East Boston.

Some of the Dorchester grant recipients included the Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, located next to Harambee Park, where Monday’s shooting occurred; Pleasant Hill Baptist Church; and St. Peter’s Teen Center. Those groups will provide safety programs and youth-oriented activities.

The grant funds also follow three fatal shootings in Boston during the past week.

The Boston Foundation’s president, Paul Grogan, said the grants are aimed at utilizing the “great work’’ of neighborhood organizations and public spaces, with everything from whiffle ball tournaments to movies projected on buildings to art festivals.

The Rev. William Dickerson, pastor of the Greater Love Tabernacle in Dorchester, who has been comforting the family of the 4-year-old and reaching out to the community, said grants can only go so far.

“I think grants given to the right organization can be helpful, but they’re not the panacea for the social and spiritual malaise that we have in the community right now,’’ Dickerson said.

He said the basics are what matter: parenting, education, religion, and community support.

Though Dickerson said he could not speak for the family, whose name is being withheld by the Globe at the family’s request, he knows that “they’re angry and outraged that they have to deal with continued violence in the community, and that shouldn’t be something a 4-year-old has to worry about.’’

The boy is still hospitalized, but doctors have said his condition is improving.

The remaining $460,000 in grants went toward other summer programming, such as the Summer Learning Initiative, part of the Boston Opportunity Agenda, and Boston Foundation initiatives, such as CHAMPS Boston and Summer Arts Initiative.

Taylor Miles can be reached at

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