The Yours Ours Mine (YOM) Community Center in Levittown has offered programs and services to youths and adults for over 40 years, but is now anxious to being a fresh era. Board trustees searched for just the right person to lead them into the future, and found what they were looking for in Queens native Jim Melendez.
Melendez, 47, was recently named the new CEO of the center after James Edmondson retired at the end of last year. Louise Cassano, an 11-year YOM board member, chaired a succession planning committee to elect a new leader for the center, and was impressed with the qualities of Melendez.
"We wanted somebody who had experience in the not-for-profit world and had the skills to bring the agency into the 21st century," Cassano said of Melendez. "We interviewed quite a few candidates and felt that Jim would be the best person to bring on and handle this challenge."
According to the agency's website, YOM is a not-for-profit, multi-faceted human services organization serving residents of Levittown and surrounding communities with a desire to improve the quality of life for residents. Since its inception in 1964 the center, located at 152 Center La. in Levittown, has provided human services for youths, adults and seniors from three to over 60 years old.
Services range from childcare and youth development to senior and adult day care programs. In addition, YOM offers a chemical dependency program, which provides counseling, among other services, for youths and adults suffering from substance or chemical abuse.
Melendez, who lives in Rego Park with his wife and two daughters, has worked at the YMCA and with youth programs similar to what YOM offers. While further developing the programs in place and creating new ones are on the agenda for Melendez, also very important is preparing the center for a new age.
"We are trying to modernize the center and looking to get involved more with programs within the schools and help the school system out as well," Melendez said. "I have spoken to the superintendent and several of the principals and they are very open to getting some assistance in their programs as well."
And what would a new era be without a new look as well? All members of YOM are very excited about the maintenance being done on the building itself, not just the programs.
"Right now we're trying to clean up the center a little bit, make it more appealing to folks. We're working on the outside of the building," Melendez said. "Once the weather warms up they'll put the final color and coat on and it will look brand new."
YOM will also be gearing up for the summer program, which Melendez would like to host about 300 children this year. The plan is to have weekly trips, swimming and other recreational activities, but Melendez knows the goal is for the development of the children.
"We are going to do some educational stuff as well, they are not just going to sit around and watch TV," Melendez said. "We will have some sports and keep the kids moving, but we will keep them motivated educationally as well."
Cassano is positive that the man they hired will lead YOM into a new generation of continued success.
"Most importantly we want to keep the agency flourishing. We want to keep up with the times and add programs that are going to benefit the residents of Levittown and the surrounding communities," she said.
Melendez is very excited to meet this challenge with what he calls a highly motivated staff with an experienced board and excellent funding. According to the new CEO, helping people develop while developing as an agency is a very promising future.
"It's really terrific, just trying to get the center moving forward for the next 40 years...trying to expand on the things that we've done in the past and make them better, make the center grow," he said.