It's no secret that many children growing up in the grittier areas of Los Angeles are at risk. For most, it is because their neighborhoods may not be safe. But for one boy, it is not having a neighborhood at all that could ultimately jeopardize his future.
Quron Brunner, 8, hasn't had a place to call home for nearly two years. His mother, a single parent, lost her job and has been unable to provide them with a permanent residence since. Living on unemployment benefits of less than $1,000 a month, the two of them shuffle in and out of the homes of friends and relatives, leaving Quron without the companionship of neighborhood friends or the network of support that a community can provide.
There has not been an authentic male figure in his life. Communication with his father is minimal. On the occasions when he has the opportunity to play organized sports or participate in school performances, he wishes that his dad were there to watch. It is then that the harsh reality of not having him around sets in.
"He [Quron] always requests that his father come and watch him and speaks eagerly about the possibility that his father will be there to cheer him on," says Amos Williams, the Weingart YMCA camp director.
"Quron is growing older and is not as accepting of the excuses made for his father."
With the help of the Weingart YMCA and the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign, Quron will have a place to call home this summer, even if it's just for one week. At YMCA Camp Whittle, campers will have the opportunity to escape the city and take part in outdoor activities that build relationships, confidence and self-esteem.
For Quron, it not only will be a chance to interact with kids his own age, but it also will put him front-and-center with the male role models that have been absent from his upbringing.
"I feel this is a lifetime memory that is provided for my son," said Crystal, his mother. "It is needed to widen his perspective of the world so he can hope for more and expect a better quality of life."
The Weingart YMCA is one of 25 branches that make up the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. Thanks in large part to a grant from the L.A. Times Summer Camp Campaign, the organization will send close to 800 low-income children to camp this summer.
"Without a grant from the Los Angeles Times, we wouldn't be able to give kids like Quron the opportunity to swim, go horseback riding, mountain bike or meet new friends," says Amos. "These kids need camp. If more people could give to support it, that would really make a difference."
With $1.8 million raised last year by the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign, approximately 8,000 children will go to camp in Southern California this summer.
The Summer Camp Campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation fund, which matches donations at 50 cents on the dollar.
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