Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 12 October 2012 00:00
These programs were the victim of the ongoing tug-of-war between party lines in the county concerning borrowing and redistricting. Organizations across Nassau County, like the Gateway Youth Outreach in Elmont and Mineola Youth and Family Services in Mineola were blindsided when the cut came down three months ago.
The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) sent a letter to Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and the entire county legislature on Sept. 28, in support of restoring the programs. NYSAN Executive Director Nora Niedzielski said the programs, “allow parents to work without worrying about their children’s health, development and safety and [the programs] reduce juvenile crime,” the letter read.
Local school and community leaders agreed. Coalition of Nassau County Youth Agencies President Peter Levy feels the programs were the victim of political struggles in the county.
“We cannot be used as pawns in political games,” he said. “School superintendents are well aware of the negative impact on their school communities due to the loss of vital services provided to their students and we appreciate their partnership in this campaign.”
According to GYO Director Pat Boyle, about 800 Elmont youths once attended the Gateway Youth Outreach Center, but county cuts made the center scale back to 100 students in 2012. The center opened in 1983 as EYO, but later changed to GYO in 1998.
“We’re left with a tremendous amount of latchkey kids,” said Al Harper, superintendent of the Elmont School District (ESD), which enrolls about 3,700 students. “Who knows where these children are?”
The ESD faced the possibility of a complete failed budget last June, after it failed at the polls on May 15. The district needed 60 percent of voter approval to pass the budget, which it attained on June 19.
“Elmont is a vibrant, working class community,” Harper said. “Parents sometimes put in long hours at work in order to pay bills and survive in this economy. Gateway Youth Outreach provides afterschool care for our children. Parents were left without afterschool childcare. This was very unfair to take away at the last minute. We need this type of support for our children.”
Activists, youth organizations and local community fixtures have been pleading for a restoration of funds since the summer, but this marks the first time school heads have banded together to force the issue. The educators were lobbying for a specific area or program, but had one common goal.
“I came here to support Mineola Youth and Family Services,” Mineola Superintendent Michael Nagler said. “To speak pragmatically, we understand that we all have to produce budgets. In our budgets we try to make sure we understand all the consequences of our reductions. In this case, 38 youth and family service programs in one pen stroke affects a lot of kids in a lot of communities. It is great to have another place for kids to go to when we can’t provide the service. There’s no dollar amount that will speak to the value of that as a society.”
Executive Director of Mineola Youth and Family Services Cristina Balbo is still working with local youth, without pay, on her own time, for the good of the children. She said, “Our agency is basically closed. However, I still volunteer my time with no pay, along with two or three volunteers from the agency to keep the clients safe.”
Balbo is hoping the funding gets restored. She recently met with Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello and State Senator Jack Martins to discuss the program cuts.
“Does anyone have an understanding that these agencies are not going to be around?” Balbo stated.
“To wipe out all of them, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Nagler stated.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Jill Palmeri, founder of a local charitable organization born out of a tragic event to a loved one in her life, was honored by Garden City Mayor John J. Watras and his trustees at the village board meeting held on Thursday, Dec. 5.
The Andy Foundation was founded by Palmeri in 2004 to honor the memory of her late son Andrew; it’s mission is to help children in need, and to date, the volunteer-driven organization has raised more than $700,000 for kids throughout Long Island through fundraising efforts that include tag sales, football clinics, and bingo parties.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00
On Friday, Dec. 6, Federal District Judge Arthur Spatt ruled that the Village of Garden City violated the Fair Housing Act, and ordered the plaintiffs to submit a proposal for how the village might address the issue, to which the village must then respond.
The case stemmed from a 2004 plan by former County Executive Thomas Suozzi to sell developers the 25-acre site of the Department of Social Services office. Suozzi requested the zoning be changed to allow 311 units of multi-family housing. Negative reaction from the public prompted village officials to limit the zoning to 150 town houses, 90 single-family homes, or a combination of the two with each option allowing for up to 36 multifamily units.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00Buckley Country Day School upper school students earned top honors at the end of this fall’s interscholastic soccer season. Garden City’s Katherine Gage, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Gage, was named the Most Improved Player of the Girls’ 5th and 6th-grade Red Team.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Mad Science Winter Program
Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks is offering a six-week winter program geared to children who are interested in science. Mad Science of Long Island is a company who provides a wonderful and fun learning experience in an after school setting. Different topics such as “Bugs!” and “Walloping Weather” are offered for each week and the participants will cover a range of activities pertaining to the topic. Residents of the Village of Garden City entering grades k-5 are invited to attend.
The cost of the six-week program is $102 and all checks should be made payable directly to “Mad Science of Long Island.”