It is estimated that more than 700 children who attend District 186 schools are children living in transitional housing. They may live in shelters, at a relative’s home, motels, cars, tents or in abandoned homes. The Matthew Project (TMP) has been helping children in transitional housing since 2013. Early on the directors of The Matthew Project realized there was a gap in learning and supervision during the summer months. TMP approached the YMCA about summer programming and the partnership between the YMCA and The Matthew Project began. The number of children involved in this program has grown substantially since 2016. The first summer the YMCA served eight Matthew kids. This summer we are estimating close to 45 Matthew Kids will be enrolled in the YMCA summer camp. This program which has an annual budget of close to $100,000 and is fully funded by the YMCA Strong Kids Fund. Nine-year-old Idayana was enrolled in camp last summer and is planning on attending again this year. Idayana is a quiet, smart and sweet girl who loves school, friends, and dancing. She has a quiet and shy demeanor and a huge heart. As an older sibling, she has an incredible sense of responsibility at home which carries through at camp. She has been described by many as caring and selfless. She is seen as a role model and normally the first person to offer and give help to counselors when needed. Dede Murphy, The Matthew Project liaison, says, “Summer camp has been so good for Idayana. It has given her a lot of self-confidence and is a place she can shine and be with her peers. It allows her to do her own thing and not feel like she has to be the protector.” As kids grow up, they are influenced by the environments in which they are raised. Children who have access to nurturing, stimulating and safe environments have fewer difficulties and experience better health, learning, relationships and well-being. We know that Idayana’s experiences through The Matthew Project and the YMCA summer camp have helped her develop into a strong, capable and secure girl.