UA Selects Project YES as Focus of Second Annual 'Cats in the Community Day'

UA Selects Project YES as Focus of Second Annual 'Cats in the Community Day'

By George HumphreyAHSC Office of Public Affairs
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The Primavera Foundation got a fresh coat of paint during last year's Cats in the Community Day.
The Primavera Foundation got a fresh coat of paint during last year's Cats in the Community Day.
Hundreds of members of the UA community participated in last year's Cats in the Community Day.
Hundreds of members of the UA community participated in last year's Cats in the Community Day.

Once again faculty, staff and students at The University of Arizona will have an opportunity to work with a social service agency providing vital services for our community – and have some fun while doing it!

Project YES, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program in South Tucson for students in grades 1-8, has been selected as the focus for the UA’s second annual Cats in the Community Day, scheduled for March 7.

Last March, the 2008 Cats in the Community Day saw about 500 UA volunteers – including top administrators, faculty, staff and students – devote part of a Saturday to help transform the Primavera Foundation’s site with a much-needed “makeover.” The organization provides services to homeless men, women and families.

For the March 2009 event, the UA Cats in the Community Day planning committee selected Project YES, which provides a safe after-school environment for young students to receive homework help, assistance from tutors to improve their reading skills and a place to enjoy recreational activities, including basketball and soccer leagues. Project YES (Youth Enrichment Services) programs, which range from classes in mural painting and digital arts to projects in service learning and civic responsibility, aim to empower youth and assist in the development of leadership, critical-thinking, community-building and problem-solving skills. Volunteers provide a large portion of these services. About 100 students are enrolled in any given school year, and the daily participation averages between 70-80 students. Located at 100 W. 37th St., the Project YES Youth Center provides free, regularly scheduled after-school programs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the school year, and from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the summer. Project YES is a program of the Tucson Urban League.

"Project YES has so many needs," said Holly Altman, director of outreach and community partnerships in the UA Office of Community Relations. "The facility is run down because, as with many nonprofit programs, limited funds are spent on program activities first."

Among the biggest needs, she said, are age-appropriate books as well as more volunteers to read to the children and help them with their homework.

"Our goal is to 'make over' the facility during Cats in the Community Day. But I hope this event will also create an ongoing connection between UA volunteers, Project YES, and the many children they serve," Altman said.

The UA planning committee is working with Project YES staff to develop the list of specific projects to be completed during Cats in the Community Day – a program of the Office of Community Relations – but work is certain to include landscaping, painting, cleaning and a variety of other efforts. As in past years, UA art professor Jackson Boelts’ senior-level graphic design class will design and lead the implementation of artistic enhancements throughout the site.

General volunteer registration will open after the winter closure.

For more information about Cats in the Community Day and Project YES, please visit www.catsincommunity.arizona.edu or e-mail catsday@email.arizona.edu.

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