The City Council on Monday heard from more than a half-dozen parents and students who advocated for extra funding for the La Colaborativa and City of Chelsea Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI), and ended up unanimously granting an extra $100,000 to the effort.
Council President Roy Avellaneda said he was surprised when he inquired during the City Budget hearings about outside contractors, and found that the SYEI payments was just $150,000. In year’s past it was much higher, he said, and he testified about how important the program is to Chelsea young people.
“It was higher in the past and I don’t know why it dropped so low,” he said.
Councillors Giovanni Recupero and Calvin Brown also testified in support of the extra $100,000.
Parent Janatha Gonzalez, of Chestnut Street, said her son – who is disabled – participated in the SYEI last summer and it was one of his first experiences. She said it transformed his life, and she spoke passionately about increasing the funding for the effort.
“When you have child with disabilities, you wonder if anyone will ever work with them and how they will survive out in the real world,” she said. “This program changed him. He couldn’t wait to sign up again this year. Last year was really his very first experience.”
•CHELSEA EATS EXTENDED
The Council approved a $700,000 Free Cash expenditure for the Chelsea Eats program food card, which unlocks large amounts of private funding from the Shah Foundation. With that, the City is able to extend the food relief program to September.
“We know the program has been successful and for the most part people used it for food at local grocery stores,” said Avellaneda.
Said Brown, “People didn’t take advantage of this program in a bad way. It was used for its right purpose. It also helped our community economically because people spent this money by and large at Chelsea businesses.”