Tag Archive | "Pastor Bill"

Centers Merge to Serve Youth

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In November 2008, Julie Froelich believed the Sag Harbor Youth Center would have to close its doors. The Suffolk County Youth Bureau and other local municipalities planned to cut the center’s funding for 2009 by 25 to 50 percent, said Froelich, the director of the center. Froelich was sure the decreased funding was an insurmountable obstacle.

 One day, she reflected on the history of the center and realized she wasn’t in a position to close it.

 “I thought to myself, ‘How can I close this center? This isn’t mine to close,’” said Froelich. “The center existed before me. It has to exist after me.”

 The Sag Harbor Youth Center officially opened in the 1970s, but Froelich said it has operated on an informal basis since the 1950s. The center has moved around the village throughout the years, and was previously located in the storefront adjacent to the movie theater, the current Provisions building and in the Schiavoni building which was recently demolished as part of the gas ball remediation project on West Water Street.

 In recent years, the center has operated from a small storefront on Division Street just south of the intersection with Bay Street. But Froelich explains that with almost half of the center’s budget being used to pay the rent, she knew the center would need to relocate again in order to continue operation.

 So Froelich soon devised a plan to save the center.

 She recalled an article she read on the recently established Chris Grimbol Center for East End Adolescents at the Old Whalers’ Church, started by Pastor Bill Grimbol of Shelter Island.

 “We had the kids, but we needed a center — and he already had a center but needed kids to come to it,” said Froelich. She approached Grimbol about merging the two centers and he was very receptive to the idea. Rev. Grimbol and Froelich bonded over a shared vision of how their organizations can help struggling teens.

 “I found we had the same basic philosophy of how kids deal with stress and jump through life’s hurdles,” said Froelich. “There is tremendous competition out there and [teenagers] often struggle to find their niche. Kids will make mistakes … but we hope they can talk to us before they make big decisions.”

 “I want to be a person they can come to and feel comfortable talking with,” she said.

 Rev. Grimbol and Froelich soon secured a part-time location at the Old Whalers’ Church and worked out a schedule. The newly named Chris Grimbol/Sag Harbor Youth center will operate from Friday through Sunday at the church, and Froelich hopes the program will officially commence on April 1. As Froelich and Grimbol ironed out the logistics of the program, they designed a few educational classes for the 10 to 18-years-old who currently frequent the Sag Harbor Youth Center. The classes to be offered include Samaritan Project, which will encourage teens to volunteer at local homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and the Green Project, where teens devise ways to make the village more eco-friendly. Froelich is particularly proud of Project Excel, a program assisting older teens in the pre-college process.

 “We want to walk them through it from start to finish,” said Froelich of the class.

 These classes will be offered exclusively on Saturdays. The center will continue to offer a drop-in recreation and activity room, from Friday through Monday, from the church’s youth room on the second floor. All of the equipment, including the televisions, video games, pool table and air hockey table, will be moved to this new location.

 On Sundays, Rev. Grimbol will offer his “Dinner Dialogue” series, where high school students can come together to share a meal and listen to a presentation on various issues associated with growing up.

 The merged program is likely to draw a lot of attention from local youths. The Sag Harbor Youth Center currently serves almost 50 to 100 youths a month, and local teenagers have already told Froelich they are more likely to visit the new location because it is conveniently located near the school.

A Place for Kids to Share Troubles, and Parents Too

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By Marissa Maier

Since moving to the East End 25 years ago, Pastor Bill Grimbol has created a reputation for himself. Although Grimbol’s sermons are soul searching and he is involved in various community projects, he is most famous for his work with local adolescents. Generations of East End teenagers and adults refer to Grimbol simply as “Pastor Bill.” People on the streets of Shelter Island, where he is currently pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, and Sag Harbor, where he and his late wife, the Rev. Christine Rannie Grimbol lived for many years when she led the congregation of the Old Whalers’ Church, may recognize Grimbol as the man who supported them through a teenage depression or helped a son or daughter overcome substance addiction.

Throughout his career, Grimbol has worn many hats, including that of youth counselor, well-seasoned preacher, and writer of fiction and spiritual studies. On February 2, however, Grimbol will don the role of parent guidance counselor in a class titled “Being The Adult Your Teen Needs You To Be.” The class is part of a two-part session “Good Enough Parent,” the first program series to be held at the Chris Grimbol Center for East End Adolescents, in the Old Whalers’ Church.

“Whenever you bring up the issue of adolescence, parents always ask ‘what can we do about this?’ But I have come to realize that it is not so much what parents can do about a problem, but what they can be about a problem,” said Grimbol.
By nurturing their own emotional and mental health, Grimbol believes parents will be better equipped to parent their children. Grimbol hopes to teach parents certain strategies to facilitate a healthier and stronger relationship between them and their child.
The class will consist of a 30 minute presentation and discussion session. The presentation, which will be delivered by Grimbol, will focus on being honest and open with your child, and also rekindling your enjoyment of being a parent.

“We still have this kind of approach to parenting as if you have to be perfect, and that effort takes all the fun and all the love out of it,” said Grimbol.

The program and the Chris Grimbol Center for East End Adolescents is a tribute to Grimbol’s late wife, who also ministered to local youth and was a champion of their interests.

“I waited for eight years before I did something I thought Chris would be proud of,” said Grimbol, whose wife passed away in 2000.

Grimbol recalls his wife as a legendary confidant for local adolescents. When they first moved to Sag Harbor, he fondly remembers Chris walking up to teenagers at their local hangouts in front of the fire department or the Harbor Deli where the Golden Pear stands now.

“She would go up to the kids and say ‘I am Chris Grimbol and you are coming to my youth group,’” said Grimbol who added that his wife fostered strong bonds with her youth group members and often guided them through troubled times.

One year, a group member became severely depressed over the suicide of a friend, who had been the Pierson valedictorian. Chris wasted no time in showing up at his house where she found the young man in bed, where he had been for days. Chris promptly hopped onto the bed and told him he had to talk with her. After some bickering, Chris soon had the young man laughing over her persistency in helping him. When dealing with teenagers, notes Grimbol, Chris was often fearless and honest.

“She would talk to them about what everyone else avoided talking about,” remarked Grimbol. “Being married to Christine taught me everything that I am talking about with these kids.”

From Chris, Grimbol also developed a somewhat unorthodox stance on religion and approach towards spiritual counseling. An avid writer, Grimbol is currently working on a book titled “I Am Not Very Religious, But I Am Spiritual: Finding the faith you can live with.” The title was lifted from the answer Grimbol constantly heard parishioners, people at funerals, and weddings utter when he asked them if they were religious.

The upcoming series at the Old Whalers’ Church, Grimbol feels, is a fitting tribute to Chris Grimbol, who devoted much of her life to helping kids.

“Being the Adult Your Teen Needs You to Be” will be held at the Old Whalers Church, 44 Union Street, Sag Harbor on February 2 at 7 p.m. No reservations are required.