Project has youth dreaming of ice cream scoops Sept 14 1997
t - - i T M- - .. ... jj.... - -J -- 1. i : tv ; 11- - y i ii.ni f 3 1 -it. - - i : GO . k. : 5 " ft -J Slillil 1 - ' .'i ! 1 , 1 in- iMtm Project has youth dreaming of ice cream scoops! J The PantagraphMAUREEN O'CONNOR Ritchie's Ice Cream parlor in Bloomington will be the home of Scoop Dreams. By DAVID WICKERT Pantagraph staff Nothing could be sweeter than a delicious frosty, ice cream cone on a scorching summer day except, perhaps, a fresh start in life after a troubled youth. A small group of local young people may be mingling those sweet dreams thanks to the efforts of several local agencies and the city of Blooihington. The groups plan to buy the former Richie's Ice Cream parlor at 702 S. Morris Ave. to use as a training ground for youths who have broken with local gangs and are learning to make a better life for themselves. By next spring, they'll be serving up icy treats in a business that will be redubbed, appropriately, "Scoop Dreams." Kevin Crutcher, coordinator of the Youth Initiative Program at Project Oz, said the organizations involved have been "in awe of the enormous support the idea has received." A big portion of that support was given Monday, when the Bloomington City Council agreed to provide $40,000 toward the purchase price of the property. Other agencies, including Youth Impact Inc. and the Community Youth Liaison Council, and several individuals have worked to establish the city's latest youth initiative. If all goes at planned, Scoop Dreams would open next spring with eight to 10 youth employees. The young people, age 15 to 20, would be overseen by an adult manager while learning job skills, earning an hourly wage and receiving GED and other assistance. Profits from the business would be used to help its employees. Ideally the employees would use the job as a springboard to a better education or another job. Employees would be selected from Project Oz's Power Program, an education and training program. Crutcher said the youths are not hardcore gang members but those who ran around with the wrong crowd. "The kids aren't dumb," he said. "We say, look, involvement in mis gang is go-j ing to result in incarceration.' " But the effort won't just benefit thffl young people. The surrounding neighbor-hood would continue to enjoy ice cream do spite the recent closing of Richie's. "I used to go to Richie's when it was up and running and noted it had a pretty good following," Crutcher said. "It's wonderful! a 1 . 1 4. 1 : i 1 ,, '4 10 nave mai uusiness mere. r The building also could be a future site of! a Bloomington police substation, although no tirm plans nave Deen estaDiisnea. In fact, many details of the effort remain unresolved. Many of them will be resolved in the coming months, and Crutcher said the group is proceeding cautiously to en sure the project comes off smoothly. t Scoop Dreams will be overseen by a board of social service workers and busi-J ness owners. Julie Dobski, an owner of lo- cal McDonald's restaurants, and Mikei Sprague, a State Farm agent and Bloom-1 ington City Council member, are among those involved with the project. '