The new president of the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor talks about the future and why this not-for-profit needs community support.
By Stephen J. Kotz
You were recently named the president of the newly created Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor, Inc. Why was the organization formed and how long have you been involved?
The Sag Harbor Youth Center and YARD (Youth Advocacy Resource Development) were merged beginning last summer and officially became the Youth Resource Center at the start of the year. County LegislatorJay Schneiderman really pushed for it. The two were competing for limited funding, and ever since the Youth Center had moved to the Old Whalers’ Church, not that many young people were using it.
I’m a retired teacher of English as a second language. I worked in the Sag Harbor School District for 24 years and retired seven and a half years ago. I’ve been involved with YARD since it was started, 15 years ago.
What is the new Youth Resource Center’s mission?
We want to have a place for the young people, the youth, of Sag Harbor to go after school where they can meet friends, play games, and socialize so they don’t have to go home to an empty house when their parents are working. We serve, in the community room at Pierson, 40 to 8 kids a day, mainly middle school kids.
We have games, we have refreshments and activities. Sometimes we have a workshop for kids, a babysitting workshop for instance. We try to offer resources so if they have a problem they can come in. We try to have trips for young people during school vacations and we have safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. We want to keep the kids entertained and engaged so they are not getting into trouble in town.
We also have a youth advisory board with 10 or 12 teens on it, so they can tell us what they want.
Now that the programs have been merged, do you see any advantages in funding?
We get some funding from the two villages, Sag Harbor and North Haven, a little funding from the school district, some from the county and some from the state, but we don’t know what we are going to get. A lot of people don’t know our beach program is not connected to the school, so we have to get our own insurance for that and liability insurance is $10,000 alone.
The reality is we are struggling, absolutely struggling.
What are your biggest needs at this point?
One of the most pressing things we need, even more than funding, is volunteers to join the YRC committee, which meets monthly. We know parents have a hard time getting out, but we need active members. They can be senior citizens.
I would like to be able to have more school trips. Over winter break, we took the kids to the bowling alley in Riverhead. This break they may go ice skating at Buckskill, but only about 10 have signed up, so we’ll need parents to drive them because we can’t afford a bus for only 10 kids. We have had trouble getting chaperones.
We also need people willing to work with fundraising. We used to have two or three fundraisers a year, but we only had one this year because there was not enough involvement.
We had a nice fundraiser at B Smith’s in November, but there were two other fundraisers that same night so we only came out with about $6,000 profit after a tremendous effort. We really need people to work on fundraising.
People can call me at 725-5132 if they’d like to help out.
Given the constraints you are facing, what will you focus on this year?
The main thing the kids love is the safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to run the program through this summer. After that, I don’t know. If we can just get through this summer, I’ll be really happy.