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Metropolitan Teen Stands Up For Families

Metropolitan Midway Youth Center student Vanessa Melendez shared how important the Youth Center and its funding source, Teen Reach, have been to her life with a group of Illinois state senators at a budget hearing held Mon., March. 16 in Chicago. State Sen. Heather Stearns (7th Legislative District) complimented Vanessa on her remarks. Midway Youth Center Director Jessica Oros joined Vanessa at the hearing.

“Teen Reach has actually helped me pull my grades up, and now they’ve encouraged me to apply to selective enrollment schools,” said Vanessa Melendez, 13, who called Metropolitan’s program’s center her “second home.” “Losing the whole program would be like a bad nightmare. This is a bad idea, and I hope you consider what it means for thousands of kids and their families.”

Metropolitan was one of more than 10 organizations represented at the event, which was packed with people who need human services. The state budget hearing is one of several being held in Chicago and Springfield this month. The goal is to garner support for human services funding in light of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts – cuts which would greatly impact human services throughout Illinois. For Metropolitan, three key areas are especially challenged by the budget – Teen Reach, the Child Care Assistance Program (impacting our early learning centers) and mental health.

The hearing was covered extensively in media, including Catalyst, which includes a quote from Vanessa, the Chicago Tribune, and Metropolitan also featured it in real time via our Facebook and Twitter pages (see posts and tweets from 3/16 and 3/17).