Where SMARTS usually gets $16,000, this year they will only receive $9,000, according to Matthews. "Instead of just quitting programs, you look for money in other places," she said. Matthews said SMARTS hopes to find other grants but may end up depending on donations.
In the meantime, youngsters participating in the SPIRAL program offered their help in the form of grounds maintenance for the Sikeston Depot.
Matthews said SMARTS is also planning a mural for the High School Band Shell in conjunction with the SPIRALS program.
Michael Harris, a SPIRALS supervisor, said in addition to earning some money for clothes and school supplies, kids in the SPIRALS program receive job training and a great opportunity to build their work ethic while learning things that are important to getting and keeping jobs.
Harris said that before they get to work, participants first watch eight hours of videos and complete a packet on good citizenship. Participants can then work up to 100 hours during each program year, Harris said. SPIRALS has expanded the summer job program to offer some work opportunities year-round, he added.
In addition to helping public entities such as the Depot and the Housing Authority, SPIRAL youth are put to work at day care centers, in convenience stores and at other area businesses.
Tammy Frakes, employment consultant for the program at the Workforce Development Office, said the participants are paid by the program which was created through the Workforce Investment Act. "Most of the time it's their first job," said Frakes.