By Jennifer Leventhal
While New Castle has a reputation of being a community of considerable privilege, it is also home to some of the most generous people you’ll find anywhere. Supporting local charitable organizations–either financially or by volunteering time and energy–is a way of life here. When you ask friends and neighbors which organizations they support and about their motivations, the multitude of important causes and compelling reasons is impressive. It would be impossible to celebrate all of them in just one issue, so please stay tuned for news about equally worthy charities in our upcoming issues. (Editor’s Note: In our next issue, we will highlight some of the local organizations that support individuals and families facing life threatening illnesses.)
10. The organizations with special ties to our exceptional schools.
Chappaqua School Foundation (CSF): funds projects and programs for K-12 in all schools that will meaningfully enhance the education of Chappaqua students but that cannot be supported within the district budget. CSF provides a safety net for innovation within the school system itself, an especially important role when the district budget faces so many challenges. www.chappaquaschoolfoundation.org
Chappaqua Summer Scholarship Program (CCSP): invites about 20 college-bound high school students from the city to Chappaqua for three consecutive summers to be part of our community, attend classes at Horace Greeley High School and experience life in the suburbs. The program’s overall goal is to prepare participants for the rigors of college, while broadening their horizons and inspiring them with the possibilities of a bright future. www.chappaquasummerscholarship.org
The Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund (HGSF): awards financial needs-based grants for college to many students who have a financial gap after all other loans, awards and family financial resources have been exhausted.
HGSF provides a safety net for Greeley graduates and their families, so that they can fulfill their college aspirations made possible by the excellence of their Chappaqua education. www.hgsf.org
“These three school-related charitable organizations fill unique and important roles in the Chappaqua community,” says Alyson Kiesel, president of the Chappaqua Board of Education. “The Summer Scholarship program demonstrates our commitment to education and to helping others achieve their potential. The Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund embodies the philosophy of ‘It Takes a Village’ by showing continued support for the students and families of this district even after they graduate from Greeley. The Chappaqua School Foundation lends direct support to our schools by funding grants to enhance the learning experience for our students across a wide spectrum of projects.”
9. The Food Bank for Westchester
The Food Bank for Westchester recently relocated its warehouse from Millwood to Elmsford, and the new 36,668 square foot facility enables this critical organization to better meet the growing demands for emergency food now and well into the future. The mission of the Food Bank is to lead, engage and educate Westchester County in creating a hunger-free environment. Our county’s only food bank, it is the backbone of Westchester’s emergency food distribution network, soliciting, acquiring, storing and distributing food to 227 frontline hunger-relief programs in the county. The Food Bank helps to feed the estimated 200,000 Westchester children, seniors and their families who are hungry or at risk of hunger, and delivers 10-12 tons of food a day. To date, the Food Bank has distributed over 75 million pounds of food to hungry Westchester residents. www.foodbankforwestchester.org
“Last year we were responsible for distributing over seven million pounds of food to local pantries, shelters and food distribution programs,” remarks Scott Boilen, a member of the Food Bank’s board of directors. “As I sit down to dinner with my family every night, I can’t help but think that there are people in our community who have to struggle and worry about feeding their children. We all need to pitch in and help our Food Bank support our community.”
8. The Cottage School in Pleasantville
The Pleasantville Cottage School is a residential treatment center for children who come from extreme poverty, have been abused and neglected, and have had to be removed from their homes. Some of these children also come with moderate to severe developmental disabilities as well. The children are housed in buildings referred to as “cottages,” and each cottage holds about 10 to 15 children and staff. The children live there year round and go to school on campus. In all, close to 300 children reside on the campus.
At the Cottage School, run by the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), these children are offered a safe, structured and therapeutic environment to heal and develop a sense of self and community. The social workers, psychiatrists, staff and teachers all work to help the children toward the goal of one day being able to live in a family setting and become productive adults in our society. www.jccany.org
“Initially, the reason why I wanted to volunteer at Pleasantville Cottage School is because I was deeply moved by the fact that, here, five minutes from Chappaqua, there were so many children living in direct antithesis to our own children,” says Stephanie Spiegel, Cottage School Lunch Bunch Organizer. “They are the neediest of the needy on every possible level, and I had to do something to help. It is so little effort for us to visit the campus and bring some joy, yet it means so much to them.
The volunteers give an hour a month of caring and fun to these children and show them that others care about them. When a child’s eyes light up because a birthday cake is put in front of her, it is extremely meaningful. Volunteering grounds me and reminds me how lucky I am. I know it sounds cliché, but I believe I get a lot more out of my visits there than I give.”
7. The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester
What began in 1937 in Mt. Kisco as the Boys Club has grown into one of the largest and most well equipped clubs serving youth in the country. The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester is a voluntary nonprofit corporation, governed by a Board of Directors and dedication to its mission: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need them most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The Boys and Girls Club provides supervised recreation, physical instruction, educational programs, cultural programs and social programs for all youths in Northern Westchester County. With the ultimate goal of not turning away any child for financial reasons, the Club strives to keep fees low and offers scholarships to those who need assistance. www.bgcnw.com
“The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester is always looking for ways to expand their offerings to children in the community,” says Board Member Robert Levine, “These are children who are not only looking for a place to go after school, but a place to develop friendships and grow as individuals. I’m proud to be part of the Club’s continuous effort to provide a safe place for kids. Whether it’s through an educational program, nutritional program or physical fitness program, the Club understands the need and continues to develop new ways enhance the lives of children.”
6. Neighbor’s Link
In 2000, Neighbor’s Link was founded to meet the needs of the Latino immigrants who represent 26 percent of Mt. Kisco’s total population. Concerned citizens raised private funds to convert a masonry warehouse into a community center for low-income working people. That was just the beginning of a remarkable transformation for the whole community. Today, Neighbor’s Link offers a fully-staffed center with comprehensive programs for all facets of personal and professional development. www.neighborslink.org
“I consistently marvel at the opportunities Neighbor’s Link provides to the Latino immigrant population,” states Hildy Sheinbaum, a longtime Neighbor’s Link advocate. “From ESL classes, to computer skill training, to sewing instruction, to job placement, to tutoring of elementary school children, to family counseling and more, Neighbor’s Link has given so much to so many. It’s difficult not to want to be a part of a force so transformative to a community in need.”
5. New Castle Historical Society
The mission of the New Castle Historical Society is to discover, collect, preserve and communicate the history of the town of New Castle. The Society and Museum are located within the Horace Greeley House, the Greeley family’s country home from 1864 -1872. The Horace Greeley House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a celebrated town landmark for 150 years. The Society provides exceptional education programs to the community and is now featuring a wonderful exhibit entitled “A Stroll Down Town: Then and Now,” an eye-opening look into the King Street of the early to mid-20th century. www.newcastlehs.org
“When I moved into a historic house in Chappaqua, I felt that it was important to find out about it and to learn more about the other historic places and landmarks in our town,” says longtime supporter Fran Osborne, who has held nearly every volunteer position imaginable, from Secretary to President to Landscaping Manager. “I’ve been involved with the Historical Society for more than 25 years, and I find that it’s the most wonderful group of people who truly appreciate one another.”
4. Mount Kisco Child Care Center
The Mount Kisco Child Care Center (MKCCC) is a licensed nonprofit, non-sectarian childcare organization that has served the working families of Northern Westchester since 1971. MKCCC provides exceptional and affordable, childcare and early education to a diverse group of 160 children aged three months to 12 years. The Center promotes each child’s intellectual, physical, emotional and social development while always emphasizing self-esteem.
Recently, MKCCC earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)–the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals. This prestigious stamp of approval can only be boasted by 8% of all preschools and other early childhood programs. www.mkdcc.org “We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” says Dottie Jordan, Executive Director, MKCCC. “NAEYC Accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”
“Mount Kisco Child Care Center is a unique and inspiring place,” says devoted volunteer Karen Arrese, “The warmth is felt immediately as you walk through the front doors. A compassionate group of professionals and volunteers combine to create an educational experience that surpasses that of a regular classroom. Life skills, from personal responsibility to intergenerational interaction to gardening and nutrition, are taught and reinforced with the utmost care and attention. As a volunteer, I am fortunate to watch and participate in this ardent effort for the children of our community.”
3. Hope’s Door
Hope’s Door, formerly The Northern Westchester Shelter, is a private non-profit organization which provides a safe haven and caring services to survivors of domestic violence. Hope’s Door also provides support through a 24/7 hotline and counseling for those who are seeking safety but not living at the shelter, and education for the broader community. Staff members speak at colleges, schools, businesses, houses of worship and community organizations. The organization’s programs are free, confidential and offered in English and Spanish. www.hopesdoorny.org 24/7 hotline: 888-438-8700
“Because domestic violence can be a tough topic for some people to discuss, it is vitally important to open up a conversation so that women and children who live in fear for their safety will not be afraid or ashamed to seek the help they need,” says Martha Kohn, a vice president on the organization’s board of directors. “Domestic violence insinuates itself through all economic levels, age groups, races, religions, educational backgrounds, nationalities and professions. One in four women in the U.S. will be abused in her lifetime, and there were almost 13,000 reported cases of domestic violence in Westchester County last year. It is imperative that these women and children can seek out support, counseling, and skills to empower them to escape their abusive lives so they can heal, achieve safety and independence.”
2. The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center
The Holocaust & Human Rights Edu- cation Center works to enhance the teaching and learning of the lessons
of the Holocaust, to promote the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect, and to encourage students to speak up and act against all forms of bigotry and prejudice. New York State requires all schools to teach the Holocaust, slavery and other human rights issues.
H&HREC has developed education and training programs that enable teachers to present this complex subject with confidence and sensitivity. These programs are recognized nationally for making history’s lessons applicable today, and for helping combat the ignorance, fear and distrust that breed bigotry, hate and violence. www.holocausteducationctr.org
“Having lost many relatives in Poland during the Holocaust, I have always felt that remembrance of the past entailed responsibility for the future,” says Howard Unger, a member of the board of directors. “One of the most important missions of The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center is to bring the lessons of the Holocaust to schools in our region, which I believe will develop our teenagers into future leaders who understand the importance of not being passive bystanders but active resisters in the face of prejudice and hatred.”
Founded 40 years ago as the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, today Riverkeeper is New York’s clean water advocate, setting worldwide standards for waterway and watershed protection. Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect the environmental, recreational and commercial integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and safeguard the drinking water of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. www.riverkeeper.org
“My husband and I have been members of Riverkeeper for the past twenty years, because we care about the environment and the river,” says Nancy Syrop, a longtime Riverkeeper supporter. “Riverkeeper continues the fight to replace nuclear power with safe, renewable energy. This organization is so important because they are dedicated to the future of our children and their families, who deserve to inherit a safe and clean environment.”
Jennifer Leventhal is a Millwood-based freelance writer and editor. www.jenniferleventhal.com
SPRINGTIME: Save the Dates!
March 15- Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund’s Annual Fundraiser, honoring Lyndall Boal, at Crabtree’s Kittle House, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 19 – New Castle Historical Society’s Annual Spring Luncheon at Whippoorwill Country Club, noon to 2:00 p.m.
April 26 – Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball at Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, 6:30 to 10:00 p.m.
April 27 – Chappaqua School Foundation’s Annual Spring Benefit at Trump National Golf Course
June 2 – Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester’s Humanitarian Award Dinner, honoring Richard J. Smith, at Lexus of Mt. Kisco
June 5 – Food Bank for Westchester’s Hunger Heroes Awards Breakfast at Tappan Hill Mansion, Tarrytown, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.