UNITED STATES: Salesians Support Local Youth through Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester, NY
(MissionNewswire) The Salesians of Don Bosco are known for their vast network of programs for poor youth around the globe but often the work it does in its own backyard goes unnoticed. The Don Bosco Community Center located in Port Chester, New York has been providing local community services for more than 80 years, benefitting low to moderate income residents as well as advocating for immigrants and their families.
The Center provides a soup kitchen, food pantry and educational programming for youth and adults. It also offers services to new immigrants and Port Chester’s long-time residents who have lived near or in poverty for years. Services are open to all adult men and women including parents in need, the elderly, the unemployed, the working poor, the immigrant and day laborers as well as the homeless.
“The primary goal of all our programs is to facilitate integration, increase self-sufficiency and decrease community tension while promoting the healthy development of youth, families and immigrants in Port Chester,” said Father Richard Alejunas, the executive director of the Don Bosco Community Center.
Since 2005, Salesian Missions has made substantial contributions to Don Bosco Community Center youth outreach programs by providing funding for building improvements and most recently, scholarship and financial aid assistance for its youth summer day camp.
Specifically for youth, the Don Bosco Community Center provides a Boys and Girls Club during the school year which offers a hot meal program to its members after school and on weekends. During the summer, the Community Center runs a youth recreational camp that operates from late June into August.
While camp costs roughly $700 per camper, past funding from Salesian Missions provided enough scholarships to enable 150 youth to attend camp free of charge. There, youth are able to participate in team sports, socialize with their peers and engage in skill-building activities. In addition, campers are provided breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. For working parents, both before care and after care are available.
“The entire Village of Port Chester benefits from this project as well as all of the Community Center’s activities,” said Fr. Alejunas. “Our local community is becoming younger and poorer at the same time. Anything we can do to alleviate poverty and increase the quality of life of the young and our neighbors is not a luxury or an extravagance, but essential to building civic society.”
Most recently, the Don Bosco Boys and Girls Club launched Café Alma, a new culinary arts training program at the Community Center. The new program is part of a $2 million expansion aimed at enhancing the quality of life and providing future career prospects to the more than 1,000 youth that utilize the center each year. In June, a culinary educational pilot program for teens ages 13 to 19 began in the existing kitchen at Don Bosco. The hope is that the program will move into its new home when the building addition is constructed in 2013.
The expansion has drawn the attention of numerous Port Chester restauranteurs including Chef Rafael Palomino (owner of Sonora), Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer (owners of Bartaco) and Chef Andy Nusser (co-owner of Tarry Lodge). Local chefs will help develop the curriculum for the new culinary program and Chef Palomino has pledged his support to outfit the new culinary arts training center with state-of-the-art equipment.
“Our kids have big aspirations from owning restaurants to running their own businesses,” said Fr. Alejunas. “The expansion and this educational initiative will provide them the resources they need to achieve these goals.”
Don Bosco Community Center Port Chester, NY – Website