Harley Decker grew up attending Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD) after-school programs and its summer beach evenings.
As the child of two parents who worked fulltime, the Pierson High School graduate said this week he views the not-for-profit as essential for children growing up in Sag Harbor.
This is why the 19-year-old came to the rescue of the organization, which recently combined forces with the Sag Harbor Youth Center to become Youth Recreation Center (YRC), this summer, offering a $2,700 down payment for the program’s insurance coverage.
According to Sandi Kruel, a coordinator with the program, the youth services organization had seen funding slashed, like many youth not-for-profits. When the longstanding insurance company that covered the organization pulled its insurance after the merger of the two youth groups, Kruel said YARD was able to secure new insurance, but had just 72 hours to secure the down payment with the summer beach program already in session, serving between 50 and 80 children on any given night.
“I sent out masses of emails to people who have been involved, and went to the Decker Studio [Studio 89] because he has always been involved and such a supportive member of the community,” said Kruel, referring to Harley’s father, Rich. “Harley was there and said his own business had been successful and agreed to cut us a check right then and there.”
“I picked it up at 9 a.m. and our insurance ran out at midnight,” said Kruel. “He’s a typical Decker, stepping up to the plate and helping out his community. We are so blessed to have people like Harley in our community.”
Decker said his business, “Designate Me Drivers,” had picked up steam last summer, and as someone who used YARD for so many years, he felt it was time to give back.
“I played sports, so I was always in the community room and I attended the beach nights all the time,” he said. “It’s an important organization. There are a lot of children who are not privileged and whose parents work full time like mine did. This gave us a place to go and support.”
“Mrs. Skinner, she was like a mother to all of us,” he said, referring to YARD executive director Debbie Skinner.
Skinner said the group is planning to expand its activities this year, working with Alternatives in Southampton on an anti-bullying program, and looking to develop a youth board of directors, among other projects including a potential playground at Long Beach, the home of YARD’s beach nights.