Katherine Warren, youth program director, welcomed us into Cameron Community Ministries and began by sharing the non-profit’s mission: to provide hope through emergency services, engagement, education and empowerment to the greater Lyell-Otis neighborhood. She explained how NextGen’s grant money had been used to provide after school programs to students in reading and math — a necessary program since School #30, which most of the kids attend, has just been ranked as having the lowest New York State test scores in the entire state.

Katherine guided us through resource rooms, into tutoring rooms with math games, through a game room with a stage for local performances, and up to an area with a library and some desktop computers. She told us about the new playground that has just been donated, and talked about the trust that their organization has been able to build with the community. We ended with a tour through the food pantry and cafeteria — which feeds dozens every weekend.

Cameron Community Ministries felt like the backbone to the neighborhood — a safe place with people committed to making a difference. It was clear that the charitable spirit in which the non-profit operated was reflected in the kids as well: The kids raised $110, penny by penny, to help families at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

NextGen’s Education Committee holds monthly educational visits, followed by lunch or happy hour, to raise awareness about invaluable community resources like Cameron Community Ministries. This year’s visits are just getting started, with visits to former grantees planned to take place over the course of 2013. A full list of the 2012 grantees is available here. Anyone is welcome to attend. Check on our Facebook page regularly for upcoming visits.

If you’re a member interested in helping plan these educational visits, email klechase@gmail.com to learn about opportunities to get involved.

Teresa Gianni and Teresa Ferris share a project they worked on at Cameron — beautifying a bulletin board about the kids’ donation to Golisano Children’s Hospital.