LUCY Outreach, a nonprofit aimed at “Lifting Up Camden’s Youth,” will be able to do a lot more of that now.
The organization recently cut the ribbon on a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in East Camden that will enable it to triple the number of Camden City youth and families it serves annually: from 500 to 1,500 within the first two years.
LUCY offers multilingual, culturally responsive services to at-risk and low-income Camden city youth and young adults ages 7-28, and their families. Ninety-four percent of LUCY participants live at or below the poverty line, attend underperforming schools and have limited access to higher education and fair wage employment opportunities.
Built alongside LUCY’s existing three-floor house, the LUCY Youth Center features an open floor plan with a modern/hip feel. Highlights include spacious program rooms separated by age group for each LUCY program, expanded office space for additional program staff, a commercial kitchen open to community members and Comcast LIFT Zone for use by the community. Other features of the ADA-compliant center include a roof deck, two computer labs and flex rooms for anticipated growth.
The LUCY Youth Center was funded by a capital campaign launched in 2020 with the goal of raising $2.8 million for the rehabilitation of the existing building on Federal Street, along with the construction and furnishing of a 10,000-square-foot addition.
LUCY Outreach board Chair Rick Braun said the group was overwhelmed by the support.
“Due to significant board engagement and the support of the community, generous individuals, corporations and foundations, along with state entities, our dream became a reality, and we are eternally grateful to everyone who has been on this journey with us,” he said.
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Additionally, LUCY’s existing building will be converted into LUCY’s Alumni/Guardians space. A first-ever therapy room for group, individual and family therapy, as well as psychiatric evaluations, medication management and sports physicals will be available.
Kristin Prinn, the founder and executive director of LUCY Outreach, was overwhelmed by what this will mean for the organization.
“It’s beyond powerful to think that what started as a small Catholic youth group, without a meeting space, gathering in a parking lot, has grown into the Camden city’s premier youth development center for children and teens, developing the next generation of Camden’s leaders,” she said.
When designing the building, LUCY took great measures to promote energy efficiency and a cleaner/greener environment. Gregory La Vardera, project architect, notes that the new addition includes the latest energy efficiency features, such as LED lighting and motion sensing occupancy controls, along with extra insulation to keep the building comfortable for occupants and reduce long-term operating expense.
LUCY offers nine impactful and engaging programs spanning ages 7-28: daily after-school, college & career academy, LUCY littles, youth night, youth leadership advisory board, Haven (LGBTQ+ support group), alumni support services, summer programming, including two service immersion trips to the U.S./Mexico Border and Camp Bright Feathers, and LUCY bikeshare program.