Free South Dallas Camp for Low-Income Residents Facing Funding Shortage

A free South Dallas summer camp that keeps kids fed and off the streets is facing a major funding shortage.

Reverend Donald Parish Jr. runs the Summer of Hope Camp inside the True Lee Missionary Baptist Church. The three-month camp is offered free of charge to about 100 kids each summer. Many of them live in a nearby Dallas public housing complex.

"We provide summer learning and summer fun for young people in this neighborhood completely free. Field trips are free, the food is free, the education is free," said Reverend Parish.

Making all of that free costs about $600 per camper. The church has always relied on private donations, but this year funding is woefully short. Reverend Parish said he currently has enough money to keep camp open for about two weeks.

"If we're not able to pull this camp off its going to be a safety issue," he said. "Often times what keeps a young person out of trouble, especially as a juvenile, is just having something to do that they want to do that occupies their time."

The camp uses the donations to hire certified teachers who can offer one-on-one instruction to students who struggle to get that kind of attention during the school year.

"We try to make sure that we are giving them what they need in order for them not to just be good on their previous grade level, but to be ready for the next grade level," Parish Jr. said.

A better education is why Zlaei Hill's grandmother sends her to Summer of Hope Camp. Zlaei's cousin, Quinice Reagor, volunteered last year.

"I volunteered because I wanted to help the kids. I went and I loved it. They learn math, English, social studies. If the camp shuts down I don't know what we'll do," Reagor said.

The camp needs more than $10,000 to stay afloat and Reverend Parish is praying for a miracle.

"I got crazy faith," he said. "I just believe God will make a way."

If you would like to help you can make a donation at www.hoperestorationinc.org.

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