FOCUS on New Haven Begins with West River Cleanup

Sixty-five incoming sophomores and 22 group leaders from the junior and senior classes at Yale College will kick off the sixth annual “FOCUS on New Haven” on Sunday, August 24, with a major cleanup of West River Open Space. “FOCUS on New Haven” is a week-long intensive introduction to the city for Yale undergraduates, who participate in community service projects at local non-profit agencies, take city tours guided by community leaders, and join issue-oriented panels and workshops with representatives from the city. Students learn about New Haven, its history, its strengths and its problems.

The West River Open Space cleanup project is being carried out in cooperation with Peter Davis, the city’s River Keeper, Parkfriends and the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees.

For the balance of the week, the students will divide into groups of 12 to serve at the following sites:

AIDS Project New Haven- A program that cooks and distributes meals to clients with AIDS throughout the Greater New Haven area. Students will help prepare and deliver meals, reorganize and take inventory of the supply room and basement area, and landscape the grounds. For details, contact Lynn Torgerson at 624-0947.

Caesar Jerez Catholic Workers House- An outreach center in the Hill neighbor that provides community members with shelter, nourishment and spiritual guidance. Students will spend time with residents and community members, landscaping, painting, and doing general maintenance. Contact Jimmy Byun, 624-5997.

Community Gardens- A variety of sites throughout New Haven managed by the New Haven Land Trust. Students will build compost bins, plant trees, and tend the gardens. Contact Sylvia Dorsey, 786-7036.

Habitat for Humanity- An international agency that promotes home ownership by building new houses, renovating older homes, and providing mortgages for low-income families. Students will work on Habitat projects that are currently in progress, including the “Collegiate House,” a site where most of the work is performed by students from all the nearby universities. Contact Jose Luis Bedolla, executive director, 785-0794.

Martin Luther King Elementary School- 580 Dixwell Ave., an elementary school in the Newhallville area. Students will work on an external mural of African American leaders begun by FOCUS volunteers last year. Contact Lydia Choma, principal, 946-8666.

New Haven Home Recovery Shelter - Students will paint rooms and hallways at this shelter in the Hill neighborhood. Contact Joanne Love, 495-7727.

New Haven Parks Cleanup- Students will do maintenance and trail cleanup at the West River Horseshoe Lagoon, Fort Nathan Hale, East Rock, Fairmont Park’s Eastern Circle Brook and Dover Bridge at the Q River.

Nightly panels, at Trinity Lutheran Church at 292 Orange St., will include a homelessness simulation and discussions on Yale-New Haven relations, City-neighborhood-business partnerships, and educational issues.

FOCUS on New Haven is sponsored in part by Dwight Hall at Yale and the Office of the Secretary, Yale University. Summer coordinators Stacy Atlas, Kate Hulin and Eli Hyams can be reached at 432-8264.

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Gila Reinstein:, 203-432-1325