The Source to offer program

By libby kesil
Staff Writer

By libby kesil
Staff Writer

RED BANK – A federally funded program designed to offer parenting guidance and mentoring to minority men and their families is coming to Red Bank Regional High School.

According to Risa Cullinane, program director of The Source, a Red Bank Regional High School-based counseling and service program, the school district was awarded a two-year grant totaling $32,000 to administer two 10-week programs called "Rites of Passage."

There will be a program beginning in January for African American males, followed by a spring program for Latino males which The Source will staff with bilingual instructors and facilitators.

Cullinane said "Rites of Passage" will include discussion groups led by family counselors and lessons on parenting. The content of these discussions will not be limited to new parents but also for those who are perhaps suddenly parenting a niece, nephew or grandchild.

The program will not only be educational but recreational as well. The fall program will include dinner and Monday Night Football in the Count Basie Learning Branch. The spring program will offer dinner and indoor soccer at St. Anthony’s.

"I want to allow participants to form their own program," said Cullinane.

Cullinane said about 20 people interested in enrolling in the program attended a meeting on Dec. 10. She said she is looking for about 10 families to enroll per program.

There will be four family focus sessions — one prior to the start of the group process and three during or after the group process.

"The money was earmarked by the state with an emphasis on men of color to help support and sustain the family unit," said Cullinane. "We worked on the grant last summer thinking that it fit nicely with our program goals and the mission of Red Bank Regional High School."

The Source Foundation, now in its third year at Red Bank Regional, provides free counseling and links within the community for preventative health care, employment opportunities and social activities.

Cullinane has been at the heart of The Source from its inception. She worked as a counselor at the high school for 10 years. In 1999 a Department of Human Services grant helped launch the program.

The school-based program, as well as Cullinane’s ability to talk with kids and her experience with the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition, brought her to the attention of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ). The senators were interested in creating a new Office for the Protection of Children as a component of the President’s Department of Homeland Security, according to Cullinane. She went to New York to give testimony about how The Source program has been helping teens.

All participating families who complete the 10-week program will receive an all-inclusive family membership to the YMCA.