The cryptic “Message to the Community” that appeared Aug. 7 on the SOAR Learning Center’s website came as a shock:
“The Board of Directors of SOAR Learning Center, Inc. has decided to wind down its affairs and dissolve its corporate existence. It has ceased operations effective immediately … The entire board wishes to express its appreciation for the generosity and support of the community and our partners. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the organization is no longer able to effectively support its mission.”
With breathtaking swiftness, the Newtown after-school and summer tutoring and dropout prevention nonprofit – which had persevered erratically for the 17 years since Jacquelyn Paulk founded it as a student reading program at the end of her 38-year teaching career – came to a screeching halt. Of all the hurdles the program had encountered over the years – funding crises, resource deficits, site shifts – this seemed the most insurmountable.
About the same time, David Rubin – the philanthropist who, with his wife Adie, raised the funds five years ago to soar-ing-future/12327410007/” data-ylk=”slk:build a new 3,000-square-foot SOAR facility;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “build a new 3,000-square-foot SOAR facility on a site owned by the Greater Hearst AME church – discovered he was locked out of the website donor portal. And Paulk, who had continued to volunteer at the center even after the board, in May, cancelled its usual summer session, found the building’s locks had been changed, barring her access.
Everyone had the same question: What happened? How could a program so beloved by both those who served it and those whom it served end so abruptly?