Nonprofit providing a second home for at-risk kids goes virtual to keep up with students
An organization that helps at-risk students succeed in school is continuing its working in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cheyenne Benjamin is a ninth grader from East New York who has been working with Publicolor for the past three years. She says it has made her a better person.
"I was like a really standoffish kid, like if somebody said something that I didn't like I'd just get really upset," says Benjamin. "And then i don't know, it changed me as a person and it helped me mature."
The group's Manhattan headquarters provides what she describes as a positive environment where she is mentored, learning valuable life skills and getting help from tutors with her education.
Now that everyone is self-isolating, she misses it.
"The requirement to go to the office is two times a week," says Benjamin. "But I went more. If I wasn't at practice or something I would go to the office. It was a really good environment there."
The organization now has staff and tutors reaching out to students virtually, making food dropoffs and making sure students get their stipends to help pay for necessary items.
Natasha Seng is one of Publicolor's directors -- she says it's now more important than ever for them to stay connected with students.
"They saw us as their second home, and now all of that has been uprooted," says Seng. "They're just in their home environments, some of them may be toxic, some of them live with seven to 10 family members in a one-bedroom apartment, so it's really, really trying for them."
There are about 250 students who are part of Publicolor in total.