Dec 04, 2009 ellen leahy Uncategorized
Julius L. Lawrence Jr. is fascinated by the pool table. He said so many skills come into play such as basic math, geometry, strategizing, organization, concentration, as well as the arts of poise and patience.
Lawrence is the Program Coordinator for Project Connection (PC), which is just one of many programs of P.E.A.C.E., Inc. PC is an after-school program, this year celebrating its 30 year in existence.
The program works on homework first and then recreation. He said Syracuse is conservative, so if a program gets started in Syracuse and works, it can go anywhere in the nation successfully.
PC is funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Community Service Block Grant (CSBG), State of NY Office of Mental Retardation Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).
There are also other special funding sources. For example: Todd and Amy Caputo, Sun Auto give to the program; Also, they give to us through giveToOther.com He is very generous Lawrence said.
For the past 17 years, PC was located in the former Kennedy Square Complex. PC new home is 1085 East Genesee Street / University United Methodist Church Building. Upstate Medical University Biotechnology Research Center will be located in a part of the former Kennedy Square site and rest of Kennedy Square, they have not decided what will be located there. Lawrence said P.E.A.C.E., Inc. still has the Food Services Division and Department of Energy & Housing located between the Upstate research and the Center of Excellence. He also works with the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC) and the Tomorrow Neighborhoods Today – TNT 5, where these operations are all located.
Syracuse.com infamous for its negative posts had this posted on May 14, 2009 after a piece on PC’s move:
Posted by mekap
THESE LITTLE PROGRAM SUCH AS PROJECT CONNECTIONS ARE SO VALUABLE TO THE KIDS IN THE COMMUNITY. FEW STAFF AND A LOW BUDGET, BUT THEY ARE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD.
JULIUS LAWRENCE HAS GIVEN HIS SOUL TO THE COMMUNITY FOR SO MANY YEARS.
CLONE HIM AND HIS PROGRAM A HUNDRED TIMES AND PROGRESS WILL BE MADE AT
A SUBSTANCIAL SAVING IN OVERALL PROGRAM FUNDS.
WE NEED TO GET BACK TO GRASSROOTS EFFORTS AND SUPPORT THE WORK OF PEOPLE SUCH AS JULIUS LAWRENCE AND GENEVA HAYDEN.
Hayden had just finished “Yes We Can Mom and Dad Parenting,” an eight-week program graduating 11 parents.
His course of study
Lawrence claims he was called to P.E.A.C.E from his taxi. He was initially trained at Job Corp. He also studied at Empire College, SU and at Cornell.
He started with the Head Start Program and then drove an airport taxi.
A lady from P.E.A.C.E kept getting in his cab and talking about the program, so much so that he took it as a sign. There he was trained, and then went to work for Big Brothers and Big Sisters before landing at PC.
He is also an assistant Pastor for Rev. Frank Fowler at the Metro Harvest Assembly of God on Genesee Street.
His work with families
Lawrence has two grown daughters who no longer live in Syracuse. He misses them terribly. Lawrence was raised without a father, so it was especially hard for him to learn to be a father. He said one thing is for certain, “An adult needs to be in a child’s life.” What is optimum is for a child to have the influence of both men and women, as each brings such a different experience to the child. He likened men and women to a jigsaw puzzle, as the different pieces come together we start to see the complete picture on the box.
And knowledge and experience are constantly evolving, “Stuff I used to know all went out the window — you have to enhance what you know all the time,” he said. “Life is practice continual practice.”
PC averages 25 children a day. That number includes about 10 who are funded through the state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental.
There is a need for his work because of lack of education and lack of what Lawrence calls, “inform-itude.” He will often come in as a moderator for people. Recently, a young woman came to him overwhelmed because at 21 she was a mother of four. What was she going to do with her life strapped with these children? He told her not to look outside her family, instead she could make a difference in the lives of her four children, involve them in her life goal.
“Every child has a gift,” Lawrence said.
He is essentially an advocate for a multitude of problems. And people’s needs are great, even in this great country of ours. Does he get overwhelmed? Of course, but he takes a step back and asks the Lord, “Is it worth it?” And the answer is always a resounding “Yes.”
In the beginning
Lawrence hails from a town so small in Florida that the “Entering Lamont” and “Leaving Lamont” was on the same sign. He grew up around tongue oil trees, tobacco and cotton in a segregated South. He often encountered uniformed white men chewing tobacco and spitting tobacco, calling him, “Boy.” They were police officers and bus drivers. He recalled his first incident of being told to move from a vacant front seat on a bus.
“Boy, don’t you know you aren’t suppose to sit in that seat?” the bus driver said.
To this day he has blocked out the memory of what he actually did. Did he move to the back of the bus or did he just get off? He did keep his cool, cause that’s Lawrence. He does remember one evening in the 1960s when President Kennedy declared an end to segregation. Lawrence and some friends walked into a pool hall that was previously off limits and shot a game of pool — just because they finally could.
At the age of 18, nine members of his family piled into a 1957 Chevy and headed North to Syracuse, where they had family. They purposely came north to escape from the racism of the South.
“I still haven’t adjusted to the weather,” Lawrence said.
To learn more about his Project Connection go to www.peace-caa.org or call Lawrence at 315-474-3011.