EVERETTE HODGE COMMUNITY CENTER
15-21 Franklin St.
Kingston, NY 12401
Staff: 4 full-time/8 part-time
Program Director: Sue Weed
PRIMARY FUNCTIONS: Kingston Cares was established by Family to work with all segments of the community to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse and improve the quality of life for children and families in the City of Kingston and Kingston City School District. Kingston Cares operates a popular multi-age after school program at the City of Kingston’s Everette Hodge Community Center in Midtown. Staff work to create an environment in which young people can gain skills, build confidence, enjoy positive social experiences and create a vision for their futures. In addition, program staff prepare nutritious meals after school and during the summer for youth at various locations throughout the City of Kingston. In recent years, the program has expanded its efforts to address critical survival issues such as poverty, food insecurity and homelessness.
ANCILLARY SERVICES: The program is committed to building opportunities for community members to work together to make Kingston a healthier community and one which promotes and acknowledges positive behaviors and decision-making among youth. The program also collects data and maintains statistics to analyze the success of program initiatives and identify significant new community trends.
Beginning in January 2019, the After School Program was restructured and began utilizing a group cohort model. Participants were divided by school grade into three groups, including Kindergarten and 1st grade, 2nd through 4th grade, and 5th grade and up. This new model allows staff to give more focused attention to each youth and ensures that the program is offering developmentally appropriate activities for each group.
In Summer 2019, the agency established a new 5 week Summer Youth Development Program for homeless and at-risk youth in Kingston. The program provided life skills workshops, journaling and small group reading circles, physical fitness activities and games, and weekly recreational/educational field trips. The program was located at the George Washington Elementary School, which included the use of three large classrooms, the gymnasium, cafeteria, and playground. The program was supported by the Kingston City School District, the City of Kingston, and Ulster County.
Utilizing funding from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services Public Private Partnership grant, the program began employing a part-time Licensed Social Worker, Ann Marie DiBella, who provides ongoing mental health consultation for children and families. During the summer, Ms. DiBella provided training for staff, consultation with program leadership on managing challenging behaviors, and support for parents/guardians who were struggling to navigate various helping systems. Her support services continued during the school year, where she also helped to author the agency’s new 4th Grade Self-Regulation curriculum. The program completed a pilot version of the curriculum at the Hodge Center at the end of 2019 and is set to implement the program in Kingston and Ellenville in 2020.
The Food Program was significantly expanded in 2019. During the summer, the City of Kingston and Family of Woodstock Inc. continued making improvements to the kitchen at the Everette Hodge Community Center. The City purchased a commercial freezer and food warmer and Family purchased and installed a walk in cooler. With the addition of this new equipment, the program has been able to accept and manage more food donations from local businesses and farms, resulting in lower food costs and higher quality meals being produced. In addition to serving dinners after school and breakfasts and lunches during the summer to youth throughout Kingston, the program supported community efforts to address hunger among homeless and at-risk adults. During the Spring, program staff assisted with the transition of the soup kitchen, which had previously been located at the Clinton Avenue Church, to the Salvation Army, by preparing meals in the interim. The program also began to provide meals for the Ulster County Warming Center, which is managed by Catholic Charities, beginning in November 2019. Approximately 30 homeless adults are provided breakfasts and dinners when the Warming Center is activated. Lunches are provided when the Warming Center remains open during the day.