Dr. Roma J. Benjamin left the Camp Curtin YMCA this morning with a little something extra.
The nonprofit she founded and directs, New Sound Literacy and Technology Center, won a raffle at the State of the City address. Benjamin, a former educator, called the unexpected donation “a blessing” for literacy in the community.
“It’s my call, it’s my mission, to give our kids support making it through school,” she said.
More than 200 community and nonprofit leaders filled the YMCA’s auditorium to hear Mayor Eric Papenfuse speak about his administration’s accomplishments during his three years in office. Proceeds from the event benefitted seven nonprofits, in addition to the New Sound Literacy and Technology Center.
Traditionally, mayors have held State of the City addresses downtown at the Hilton Harrisburg. Past addresses benefited the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC) and the Harrisburg Chamber.
This year, the venue change highlighted the work of Harrisburg nonprofits, 23 of which were represented at the event.
“Camp Curtin is a stellar example of how people come together to nurture our city and inspire our youth,” Papenfuse said.
Papenfuse credited much of the city’s success to Harrisburg’s balanced budget. He said his administration has been “watching every penny” and that the city has amassed a $10 million nest egg this year.
With the budget surplus, the city will purchase body cameras and more Tasers for the police department, he said. Police Chief Thomas Carter said his department is looking for the latest technology, but does not have a timeline for the purchase or implementation of the devices. Tasers and body cameras will increase visibility and accountability, the mayor said.
Papenfuse included other highlights from the past year:
- Nearly 1,500 new business licenses in the city
- A $3 million state grant for revitalization in a blighted area of Allison Hill dubbed MulDer Square
- Federal government support for residents affected by sinkhole damage
- A $50,000 state grant to improve Reservoir Park
- Increased community policing programs such as the Police Recreation League
- The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program to reduce crime in the Camp Curtin neighborhood
While Papenfuse reflected on his administration, Benjamin looked forward.
“I have lots of new books to purchase,” she said with a smile.
Author: Danielle Roth