In these desperate times, with the economy showing few signs of recovery, mass foreclosures, layoffs and cutbacks, it comes as no surprise that those on the bottom rung of society are the most vulnerable.

Across the nation, after-school programs for needy families are vanishing faster than their last month’s allotment from the government. Helping families in need requires ingenuity and creativity.

Shirley “Sikolo” Brathwaite realized something had to be done to rescue more than 50 families whose children are no longer eligible for city-subsidized child care. “It’s really hard to have to tell working parents that their 5-year-old child is no longer eligible for child care,” Brathwaite said last week at the Rena Child Care Center, where she is the school’s director.

To raise funds to provide scholarships for the families in need, she called on her resourceful husband, Kwame, a noted photographer. He contacted several members of the National Conference of Artists, and they recently concluded a three-day exhibit of their photographs, with one-third of the proceeds earmarked for the after-school project.

While the exhibit, which included such renowned photographers as Kwame Brathwaite, Ed Sherman, J.T. Chandler, Adjua Mantebea, John Braithwaite and Cecil Lee, is no longer standing, the need for funds remains a critical concern for the school. Those interested in seeing the brochure and purchasing one of the photographs can contact Kwame Brathwaite at the donation address below.

The cost per week for each child is $100, which means it costs approximately $5,000 annually.

All donations are tax deductible and should be made out to: Rena Day Care Center, 639 Edgecombe Ave., New York, NY 10032.