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Funding cuts come at bad time for Gorham Center

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GREENVILLE, Pitt County - It's been a fixture in Greenville for years.

Parents whose children attend the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center after school say it's essential in helping raise their families. But funding cuts have dropped the attendance rate by 76 percent this year compared to last year. There was once as many as 125 students, before state legislators cut their funding. Now, there's just 30 students attending. A $400,000 operating budget has been trimmed to $100,000 every school year.

"Last year, we brought the youth here from eight different schools," said Deborah Moody, director of the organization. "This year we're only bringing them here from two because the transportation costs to get them here is so expensive."

Before budget cuts, attendance was free. Now it costs $260 for each child to attend. That forced many families to remove their children from the program. Cherry Faison said the program should be receiving all the support it can get. She also said the service provides so much more than just aftercare for her 10-year-old son, Renford.

"If I have to work long hours, I have to pick him up by 6, so it's a great help," Faison said. "They help him with his schoolwork, his math. And he loves it, they go on field trips, they do all kinds of this together, they include our families."

One of the program coordinators said the attendance price for a year would have been $1,040 if it were not for cutbacks to their program, their partnership with East Carolina University and other community grants. For now, the organization hopes to keep receiving community support in order to restore their program and bring their children back again.

"But now we have to take it one year at a time," Moody said. "Until that one person comes and writes that one million dollar check, or maybe that 10 million dollar check."

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