February 1st, 2012
Beacon Center thrives under new regime
Children have fun reading during the Beacon Community Center’s after school program. They are assisted by Domain McKor (standing), who helps out five hours a week at the Center.
Beacon - The City of Beacon was hit hard about two years ago. First, the Martin Luther King Cultural Center was forced to close; soon after, its nearby neighbor, the Beacon Community Center faced a similar fate. However, a year later, the latter’s prospects have made a drastic turnaround.
Last September, the City of Beacon put out an RFP for sale or programming on the present Centers’ 23 West Center Street site. Before long, Poughkeepsie’s Nubian Directions joined forces with the Housing Authority securing the funding for a joint proposal to the City of Beacon Council. The deal was sealed: the City would lease the Center for five dollars to the Housing Authority, who would in turn, allow Nubian to manage all activities.
On July 5, 2011, the Beacon Community Resource’s doors were officially reopened; the Center has not stopped flourishing since. Initiating the resurgence was a Summer Free Lunch Program, available for children ages Kindergarten through eighth grade. From there, an assortment of varied, intriguing and popular offerings have evolved, including: a home for the Cornell Corporation Extension Green Teen; a Youth Built- AmeriCorps, an out of school program, allowing students to earn their GEDs while doing community service and getting a stipend; New Visions Church Economic Development Corporation, a faith-based organization; senior exercise offerings, a Food Bank, as well as Family Movie and other themed nights, available through the Beacon Light Tabernacle Church. Many more programs fill the Centers’ growing brochure. The rationale is simple: the need is immense.
“I believe that considering where Beacon stood with programming, we saw an opportunity, and had to do what we could, so people could get the services they needed,” explained Robert Wright, Executive Director of Nubian Directions. “We will continue to do all we can to make sure those services continue.”
Wright is not alone in ensuring the Centers’ continued and growing success takes place. A host of dedicated volunteers is also playing a key role. Most all programs are made possible thanks to those altruistic gestures of talented, local mentors, including Grammy-Award winning percussionist, Beacon’s own, Jeff Haynes, giving back to the community.
Still others are the youth. Domain McKor, a Newburgh Free Academy graduate and current Dutchess County Community College freshman, who continues to be a part of the New Directions Youth Build Partnership that helped him earn his high school diploma, now can be seen contributing five hours of his time a week at the Beacon Community Resource Center, offering his experiences to youngsters.
“I’m here because they (Youth Build) give a lot of opportunities to kids and let them go to places they would never get to otherwise, such as Mount Beacon and Marist College,” said McKor, who also works eight hours a week at Nubian Directions. “This program turned my life and others’ around; they helped me understand this is the real world and to always look at the positive in life and to trust; I want to give that back now.”
Still other volunteers at the Center include parents of children who attend some of the many after school and weekend programs. One is Traci Garner, parent of a 12 and 10 year old, as well as volunteer at the Center, who offers three hours a week of her time.
“The Center has provided extra teaching for my kids, with tutoring, helping them focus more on their work,” said Garner. “I’m here to help children with homework and any extra help they might need. She added, “The best part about volunteering is the outcome of working with kids and seeing them succeed and stay motivated.”
Those positive results are likely to be a familiar sight in the City of Beacon. Several future programs are presently being pitched. Amongst them are; citizenship, SAT Prep, Introduction to Computers and a community garden for seniors and residents. Still more exciting prospects lie ahead. Nubian Center is hopeful that the Center will eventually become incorporated and independently run by people of the Beacon community, allowing for empowerment.
“I grew up in this community and was a former participant here at this Center,” said Mario Johnson, Youth Build America Program Coordinator. “It gives all a chance to reach their dreams, get educational assistance and foster greater character development; I truly believe our programs address the needs for greater self-improvement and efficiency.”