Sunday, January 23, 2005

Nancy Block to Judy Chirco

January 23, 2005

Judy Chirco Council District #9
801 North First Street Rm.#600
San Jose, CA 95110

Dear Ms. Chirco,

I am writing this from my heart as a program that has changed the life of my son is going to be cut because of the budget problems that San Jose is facing.  I am speaking of the San Jose Parks and Recreation Young People’s Theater program at Kirk Community Center.  This program has served the youth of San Jose since 1984, donated over 100,000 cans of food to the needy, donated $6000 to the American Cancer Society,  and raised $77,000 last year to directly support itself independent of city funds. It has provided thousands of children with invaluable self development.  However, these are only figures on a piece of paper.  I wish to share what it has done for my son Daniel and many other special children.

        Daniel came to Kirk Young People’s Theater five years ago.  He was being bullied at his elementary school and was not succeeding in his athletic attempts.  He found a passion and a place to grow at Kirk.  His life turned around from one of not fitting in and feeling bad about himself to a life of grand self-esteem, enthusiasm, and academic success.  He learned that his gift was acting. I am confident that without the experience of this program he would not be where he is today, a straight “A” student who was selected to travel abroad as a student ambassador.  He found other children like himself; creative, sensitive, and passionate.  This is not readily found on the athletic field, especially if not physically gifted.

        Daniel is not alone in what he has gained from this program.  The program embraces children with disabilities.  I know of no other program where a child with cerebral palsy is given a dancing part or where children with significant speech impairments are given lines to express with confidence.  One child with severe dyslexia was cast as a main character. She verbally memorized her lines and the excitement of her accomplishment was contagious. These children’s lives are changed forever.  No other theater program in this valley will offer this to these children.

        I implore you to reconsider the budget cut that will result in the loss of this fantastic program at Kirk Center.  Judy I know you have experienced plays at Kirk Community Center.  I hope that you will continue with the support you have given us in the past.  Our children are our future, the future of San Jose.

Nancy Block

Dear Nancy,
Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Young People’s Theater program with me.
The City of San Jose is in a very difficult budget situation this year, as are our schools, and the State. Because of this, every City Department has been asked to submit at least 20% reduction to their budget. As I am sure you will understand, this amount of budget reduction cannot be accomplished without being felt by all programs. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services has to look at all the programs they fund in order to make this budget reduction. The Young People’s Theater program, along with other programs, will certainly be affected.

I have attended, and enjoyed, many of the YPT’s productions. I think this is a wonderful program and offers much to our children. I want to assure you that I, along with the PRNS staff, fully understand and agree that there must be programs for the creative child, as well as sports programs for the athletic child, and other programs for children with other interests.

The challenge we face is to be able to offer this variety of programs in this severe budget time. And in order to do this, it is necessary to take a strong look at our existing programs and see how we can offer something for everyone with less money. I am strongly in support of maintaining some kind of performing arts program at Kirk Community Center. However, at this time I cannot say what the format of that program will be.

As we enter what will be a very difficult budget setting time, I want to assure you that I will keep your comments in mind.

Judy Chirco


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