Tri CYA Spotlight
Tri CYA — Supporting Local Youth
We were so impressed! Ellen Hatch noted “The services and support they supply to youth and families in the community are vast and varied. They do a lot!”
For more than 50 years, Tri CYA has provided a broad range of educational, recreational, social, cultural, athletic, counseling and advocacy programs, working closely and cooperatively with businesses, school districts, law enforcement, community groups, government agencies and religious organizations as well as with individuals, parents, and youth community volunteers (from their website).
Debbie Rimler, Tri CYA Executive Director, stressed they are a grassroots organization with as little bureaucracy as possible. Their approach is individualized, caring, creative. The overall goal is to support and nurture youth as well as their families physically, emotionally and intellectually to provide opportunities, encouragement, to build agency, and help achieve equity. They provide year round in-person programming for youth aged 5-18, Monday-Saturday at the center located at Huntington Commons. Additionally, there are programs and services at Walt Whitman High School and Stimson Middle School in South Huntington.
During the school year, students are provided with homework help, mentoring, arts and crafts, snacks and frequently a hot meal. Since a most basic need is food, they feed the kids what amounts to an after school meal, often hot, provided by local restaurants, delis, houses of worship and individuals. The day we visited the kids had egg sandwiches donated by The Golden Dolphin Diner. A snack cabinet stocked by local scouts is also available. Additionally, the kitchen and canteen house a food pantry. Bags of food are distributed every Monday to local families. The kids can take home food from pantry too.
We visited on a Friday afternoon, a day with typically lighter attendance. With less pressure to complete homework for the next day, the students were just “hanging out”. We witnessed a raucous game of foosball and others were playing video games in the all purpose room. Teens were lounging and chatting in the “teen” room while a friend entertained them playing an electric keyboard.
The library was quiet on the day we toured, but Debbie told us it is typically full of kids reading and doing homework. The books, all donated, are organized like a real library. The room is outfitted with tables for group work and tutoring, as well as comfy sofas. Desks with computers line one wall.
Tri CYA doesn’t take vacations. This past summer, youth attended center-based programs 6 days a week and went on free field trips canoeing, fishing and to play paintball. They visited Robert Moses Beach, Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and Museum of Natural History. A Learning-to-Read workshop was held for the youngest students. And yes, they are open during school holidays.
During school hours, the staff provide support and counseling with referrals to parents on issues small and large. If they are unable to help, they refer clients to someone who can. They don’t give up.
Year round there are ongoing organized events for youth and their families such as Project Toy (see related article), a Halloween Party held in the parking lot with pumpkin painting, music, food and trunk trick or treat, Youth Court where students learn and perform the roles of judge, jury, lawyer, bailiff for real cases involving their peers, with the goal of helping troubled youth in the community.
Some new programs are tutoring 3 evenings a week and a college information workshop. In addition, an evening cooking class titled Cooking 101 teaches older students the basics. When we visited the elementary students were learning to make French Toast. It smelled delicious.
To sum up, we were all incredibly impressed with the positive impact Tri CYA continues to make in our community, and are very excited to explore ways St. John’s can be more involved. There are many service opportunities for interested parishioners. Tri CYA trains and supervises their volunteers, and your help would be very much appreciated. Becky Bonventre helped out recently and has this to say:
"I was drawn to volunteer and support Tri CYA over the last couple of years because of the focus on children's education and enrichment. They provide a warm, safe place to go after school to do their homework (or just hang out), which may make the biggest impact in their lives. It also helps parents, who may be working and unable to make sure their kids are safe, fed and doing their homework."
If you are interested in volunteering or learning more, we encourage you to visit their website: https://tricya.org/, or contact Becky Bonventre or Lindsay Kamdar.
— Ellen Hatch