young people on colorful stairs

Making Space for Camden Youth

A special feature of LUCY Outreach’s new youth center is “the steps,” shown here populated by LUCY alums and Executive Director Kristin Prinn. In the early days, LUCY youth met on the steps of St. Joseph Pro Cathedral School. Now LUCY has a state-of-the-art facility—but participants and staff remember their roots by gathering on (now indoor!) steps designed to welcome and inspire.

We were so proud to help LUCY celebrate its grand opening on October 20! Over 300 people came to celebrate this milestone—participants, past participants, staff, community members, and, of course, funders like us.

The Domenica Foundation is contributing $500,000 over five years to fund the new youth center. “We expect to double the number of youth we serve, from about 500 to at least 1,000, maybe 1,200, within a year or so,” said Kristin. “We are so grateful to the Domenica Foundation for helping to make this dream a reality.”

LUCY (Lifting Up Camden’s Youth) offers a full spectrum of youth development programming focusing on educational, cultural, social, and service-oriented enrichment. From LUCY Littles for children aged 7-11 to the college prep program and support for program alums, LUCY empowers young people to, as its mission statement says:

form healthy relationships, make good choices, and develop into compassionate and socially responsible adults who make a positive difference in their community.

“Pepe and I had tears in our eyes as we toured the new facility,” said Elena Piperno, Domenica Foundation director. The center features computer labs, lounge areas (including a rooftop deck), a performance space (“the steps” can double as audience seating), a commercial kitchen, and much more.

“We were blown away by the new building,” said Elena. “Even more, we were blown away by what LUCY can accomplish now that they have this amazing center. We are so proud and honored to partner with LUCY to give Camden kids opportunities to learn and grow and contribute—opportunities that their environments might not otherwise have offered them.”

In her keynote speech, LUCY volunteer Kelly Lopez summed up what we love about LUCY’s new center. Kelly participated in LUCY as a high school student and is now pursuing a master’s of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. In her speech, she said:

This new construction is a wonderful physical space, where our young people can run and hang out and share in community. 
More importantly, it’s a space for them to develop their ideas, beliefs, and goals. It’s a space for them to process and be supported through their emotions and conflicts. It’s a space for them to dream, space for them to experiment, space for them to learn to negotiate with life’s terms. 
So many things become possible, so many futures unfold, so many potentials actualize when we
make space for our young people.

Yes! That’s what we are so proud to be part of—”making space for our young people.”

photo of Pipernos and others in front of LUCY sign
At the grand opening, we met up with LUCY alums who are also former Domenica Scholars. We love when our community partnerships mesh to serve Camden youth! Left to right are Lesley Piña, Pepe Piperno, Nannsi Villa, Aliyah Rojas, Kristin Prinn, Paola Guzman, Daisy Piña, and Elena Piperno. All former participants either attended or are attending St. Joseph’s University.

Enjoy these photos of the new space and the people in it!

LUCY sign