This summer, we have site assistants who weren't born when I started the program eighteen summers ago. Hard for me to believe in one way, but also a source of great joy in another. In fact, forty percent of the staff on our senior leadership team for B-SAFE 2017 are former program participants. This kind of continuity is valuable to any program, and also shows the impact the program has had on participants over the years: they want to come back and provide a high quality, educational and fun summer experience to others.
Though I never could have imagined all those years ago that we would someday serve 700 young people in B-SAFE at six locations, I'm absolutely delighted by the scope and depth of the program. A team of students from Princeton and Wellesley College has planned a curriculum that integrates math, English language arts and civics and woven it with our field trips and specialty days. Another team planned more than 110 off-site excursions to places as diverse as Northeastern's Marine Science Center and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Hundreds of volunteers from dozens of churches and other organizations are providing lunches, workshops, Friday field trips and other educational experiences.
I also never would have imagined the incredible diversity of the B-SAFE community in 2017. Among our participants and staff, many languages are spoken, countries represented and cultures celebrated. We come together around our shared goal of learning and growing over the course of the summer, and somehow it all works. We are stopping the summer learning slide, offering young people new experiences, and providing more than 150 teens with high quality employment opportunities. We can't measure the number of hours of television that aren't being watched this summer, or hours of video games that aren't being played, or other potentially negative experiences an unstructured summer might contain that aren't happening because 700 young people are actively engaged in B-SAFE, but studies consistently show that programs like our make a real difference in the lives of young people. And every day I witness the learning, the growing, the community building, the positive interactions, the smiles, the healthy meals, and I know that B-SAFE is contributing in many ways to a better summer in the city.
I'm grateful to the staff working so hard to make the summer great, and to all of those who support B-SAFE in so many ways. The B-SAFE community is very special - a unique effort that continues to grow.
By Tim Crellin, Executive Director
The Rev. Timothy Crellin has been Vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in Boston since 1999, and is the founder of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs. Previously he was Associate Rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill. He graduated from Brown University and Harvard Divinity School.Tim rides his bike to the South End every day from Jamaica Plain, where he lives with his wife, Jenny Sazama, the Executive Director of Youth on Board, and their son, Adam, a student at Boston Latin School. Tim is an avid runner, cyclist, reader, and Red Sox fan.