MHA benefits from contributions

MHA benefits from contributions

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 3:49 pm
By: Laura Buckland, Special to The Press

MHA benefits from contributions | United Way of West Tennessee, Martin Housing Authority

Martin students (from left) Johana Romero and Tasharea Couch are just two of the children who benefit from Martin Housing Authority’s after-school and summer programs.

The Martin Housing Authority receives financial assistance from United Way for two programs for Weakley County residents; Learning Enrichment Center and the Crossroads Teen Center. With this assistance from United Way, Martin Housing Authority is able to provide staff, school supplies, and healthy snacks for each of these two programs.
The Learning Enrichment Center provides children with a place to go to after school and “unwind” and receive assistance with their homework. The children are generally at the center for about 3 hours after school and during those three hours they have a “feedback” time, homework time, and if there is any time left over they will play games or watch some educational TV.
The “feedback” time is when the children are able to eat a healthy snack and talk about their day to one of the staff members. This specific time allows the children to transition from a long school day to a more relaxed environment.
Usually on a day-to-day basis there are four assistants along with the program director, Robert Nunley, to assist with the children.
The majority of the time spent at the center is doing homework with assistance from the staff and also UT Martin volunteers. The Learning Enrichment Center is able to provide 1:1 ratio during homework time which would not be possible if it wasn’t for United Way assistance.
However, the volunteers at UT Martin provide the center with a big majority of help in being able to provide that 1:1 ratio along with the staff.
The partnership between the learning center and UT Martin is significant because it allows several professors from UT Martin to come in and teach art and music lessons for the children. The Learning Enrichment Center also provides a summer program for children that includes mediation, one full meal and “more fun” activities compared to the after school program.
The summer program lasts six hours a weekday during the months the children are not in school.
Registration for the Learning Enrichment Center starts at the beginning of the school year and is first come first serve. It is available for children grades kindergarten through fifth grade and as of right now the center is at capacity with 40 children signed up. However, there is a waiting list for children to sign up on if a child were to drop out of the program.
Crossroads Teen Center is much like the Learning Enrichment Center in that it provides a time of “debriefing”, an hour of study time, and if time permits they will be able to play games or relax.  
Crossroads has two program assistants one of which is a graduate from UT Martin, Wes Curtis, who is able to help the teenagers with their Spanish homework since he’s fluent in Spanish.  The children are provided a snack during “debriefing” time followed by a mandatory hour of homework time. On average there are 45 teenagers enrolled at the teen center.
These two programs are very essential in a child’s everyday lifestyle allowing them to have assistance with their homework, establish trusting relationships with adults, and socially interact with others in a comfortable atmosphere.
The Learning Enrichment Center and Crossroads Teen Center are free of charge and open to anyone in Weakley County due to the assistance from United Way.
Brian Harris, executive director of Martin Housing Authority states, “United Way has been the single most consistent funding source of the Martin Housing Authority from day one.” For more information regarding the Martin Housing Authority or these two programs, contact Kristy Robinson at
United Way also funds 12 other local agencies providing a variety of services to the community.
If you are interested in getting involved with this year’s United Way Campaign in Weakley County you can call Brian Harris, 2011 campaign chair for the United Way in Weakley County, at 587-3186 or Jennifer Wood, resource director for United Way, at (731) 422-1816.  
For more information find United Way on Facebook or visit its website at
Editor’s note: Laura Buckland is a senior communications student at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

WCP 11.17.11


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