Mary Mitchell Center Program Description
Overview – The mission of the MMC is to improve the lives of families and youth in the Crotona section of the Bronx through programs that expand opportunities, develop leadership and build community. All the board members and staff are connected to the Crotona neighborhood and there are over 30 neighborhood volunteers who provide mentoring, tutoring or activities for youth and families. Each year 400 youth and over 1,000 families use the Center for programs and activities.
After School Enrichment Program – 60 children five to fourteen years old attend our program Monday though Friday from 2:30 to 6:00 pm during the school year and full days during the summer. Children are picked up from school, they have a healthy, home-made meal, they get tutoring and/or homework help and they participate in fitness, arts and/or community improvement activities. There are many group projects and special events, like our multi-cultural sharing day, the holiday parties, and over the summer at least two field trips per week. The older children 13 to 14 are in the Social Justice Club that includes leadership skills development and community improvement projects. On Friday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 pm the Center is open for recreation and life-skills workshops for teens.
Outcomes for the Children –
1. Develop skills in studio art, arts and crafts, sports, piano playing, leadership, teamwork and community improvement.
2. Learn about the importance of eating healthy and regular exercise. They get a healthy meal every day and participate in fitness activities at least twice per week.
3. Eligible elementary school children and youth in the Social Justice Club have one-on-one tutoring at least three days per week. Every child is given general help to complete their homework each day.
4. Learn teamwork, community building and life skills through group activities and workshops.
5. Learn civic responsibility through community improvement projects.
Partners – Fordham University Department of Applied Psychology provide program development assistant through a doctoral candidate internship. Fordham University and Lehman College provide tutors. Lehman College has begun a program to have students tutor for four semesters in a row (2 years). SMARTIES Tutoring Services provides education enrichment to eligible students from local schools. Bronx River Arts provides studio art classes for children. Bronx District Attorney’s Office provides life-skills workshops for youth. The National Office of Drug Prevention provides activities through the Above the Influence project.
Nutrition and Fitness Campaign – In 2007, a group of teens at the Center began the Health to Know Committee (H2K). They identified health problems in the Crotona section of the Bronx and decided to focus on the health crisis around diabetes and obesity. For two years they worked with youth and families at the Center to help families make healthy decisions. They told people to “Eat one more Fruit and Vegetable each Day”, they held a health fair, they ran a Walk for Health and the teens received training through many sources including Hunter College Health Equity Project. The Center established a “Zero Tolerance for Crappy Food” policy to support their effort and began serving meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk. Children grew their own food at a local community garden over the summer and the Center sponsors a Farmers Market in the neighborhood. Once we get our kitchen certified by the DOH, community gardeners will be able to make value added products at the Center out of food that they grow. We continue to try to find ways to promote eating healthy food and regular exercise.
Outcomes for the Community –
1. Children in the after school program eat health food every day and participate in fitness activities at least twice per week.
2. Hundreds of families purchase healthy food from the Farmers Market.
3. 20 children learned to grow food and ate the food they grew.
4. Staff of the Center are aware of the health crisis in the community and are working together to promote and increase good health and healthy decisions.
5. Teens at the Center have a leadership role in addressing a community health crisis.
6. The Center is developing ways to increase access to healthy food, encourage healthy choices and increase education for the broader community.
Partners – Hunter College Health Equity Project provided training for youth. The NY Botanical Garden provided supplies and curriculum for our gardening activities. NYC Land Trust provided space in the garden. La Familia Verde provided management for the Farmers Market. Just Food provided assistance for the Farmers Market and a VISTA intern. The NYC Department of Health provide statistics and training for the children and staff of the Center. Montefiore Hospital and St. Barnabas Hospital provided information about making health choices. The Health Alliance provided staff for a community meeting about health. Cornell Cooperative Extension provided staff training.
Community Access and Support – The Center is open in the evenings and on weekends to provide access to space for community groups that want to provide activities for youth or families in the Crotona area. “Fight Back” martial arts and self-defense classes run Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday for 45 youth. Tanima Productions’ dance classes run Monday through Friday for 120 youth. Youth United/ Joven Unidos has marching band practice on Sunday afternoons for 15 youth. We sponsor a basketball team for 30 boys. And, there are many groups that use the Center once per month or less including 18 new immigrant groups from Ghana.
Outcomes for the Community –
1. Youth improve their dance, martial arts, self-defense, and band/baton skills.
2. Youth improve their self esteem by mastering specific skills and winning at competitions and/or performing for others.
3. Youth increase leadership skills through trainings and getting support and modeling from mentors.
4. Develop civic leadership in community members who provide activities at the Center by giving them support to run their program and help them with publicity.
5. Increase options for over 250 at-risk youth in the community by providing space for activities.
6. Over 1,000 adults participate in an activity at the Center each year.
Partners – We are fortunate to enjoy the support of many of our elected officials, Congressman Jose Serrano, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, and local Community Board (CB6). We have met with staff from Senator Gillibrand’s and Senator Schumer’s offices. In addition, the community groups contribute to the Center to cover staff and opening fees.
Safe and Healthy Neighborhood Campaign – As mentioned above the Center has a real concern for the health of families in our community. After a shooting next to the backyard of the Center in November 2009, we started the Safe and Healthy Neighborhood Campaign to bring together community organization to address the violence in our neighborhood. Living in a safe neighborhood is part of being healthy. We are working with religious organizations, school representatives and non-profits to find ways to share language and work together to reduce violence and increase health.
Outcomes for the Community -
1. Develop shared language and common activities to address violence and ill health in our community. We hope to run a week-long training in the spring with GATE, a gang and violence awareness program.
2. Increase communication between community leaders of over 30 organizations through quarterly meetings, workshops and regular emails.
3. Decrease violence by talking to youth and families about prevention and providing activities for youth during out-of-school time so that they are otherwise engaged.
Partners - Phipps Housing,
Aquinas Housing, St Barnabas Hospital, the Bronx River Arts Center,
Masjid Adams Mosque, La Familia Verde, Bronx River Alliance, Caribe
Little League, Crotona Community Coalition, Hood Watchers Network,
Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCO), St
Martin of Tours Church, Redeeming Love Church, Iglesia Christiana
del Bronx - Jesus Cristo es El Senor, Wings Academy High School,
KAPPA II School, Community Board 6, and representatives from the
Police Department and DA’s Office .
Expansion - Our proposal to exchange the building we own located at 2107 Mapes Ave. for the building that we use at 2007 Mapes Ave. will result in our ability to expand our space by turning the backyard basketball court and play space into an indoor basketball court and a larger, teaching kitchen. This new structure will also have an ostentatiously green roof that we can use to teach youth and families about energy conservation and making both sustainable choices for our selves and our community. They gym will be used for sports practice, tournaments and events. The teaching kitchen will be used to instruct children in our programs, cooking classes for adults in the community and to make value added products by community gardeners.
Contact Information – For more information about programs at the Center please contact Heidi Hynes, Executive Director, at (718)583-1765 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website at themarymitchellfyc.org