With the Canajoharie Community Youth Center closed to the public since March, the CYC Board of Trustees have used the downtime to make improvements throughout the facility, also creating plans for the center’s potential re-opening in September with in-house after school and remote learning programs.
When the CYC officially closed its doors alongside the Canajoharie Central School District on March 13, “We thought it’d be a good opportunity to get some things done and make improvements for the kids before, hopefully, things turned around,” explained Director Janice Dillenbeck.
New padding has been installed on each wall of the gymnasium, “So, now if kids run in any direction and run into the wall, there’s padding, so no injuries,” said Dillenbeck, a CYC Board of Trustees member who was hired as the center’s director in January.
“Basically, everything has a nice, fresh coat of paint,” she continued, noting that the front room, computer room, entryway, and downstairs walls and floor have all been newly painted. Various floors were also cleaned and shined, Dillenbeck pointing out, “With all the foot traffic, they get kind of rough,” though with the recent polish, they’re now “nice and shiny.”
The painting and cleaning was accomplished by 4-5 “very dedicated volunteers,” according to Dillenbeck.
The CYC will also soon have new carpeting installed in the computer room, thanks to “an overwhelming amount,” of generous donors that came forward in response to a Facebook post requesting funding for the purchase.
Earlier this year, Canajoharie artist Jennifer Veit painted a massive mural for the center titled “The Giving Tree.” The mural depicts a leafless tree with a brick wall behind it. The CYC’s goal was to unveil the mural during an April open house, wherein the center’s various donors would be listed on leaves and bricks, highlight ing supporters who Dillenbeck said have formed “the foundation of the center.”
“Because we didn’t have our open house, the poor tree is still bare,” Dillenbeck said. The CYC is hoping to host the event in the future, though its scheduling remains uncertain, as the Board of Trustees doesn’t want to schedule a function that may have to be cancelled.
The CYC is currently requesting that Canajoharie Central School District residents with children complete surveys they’ve published on their Facebook page, assessing the need for after school and remote learning programs.
The remote learning program, which would be for 7th through 12th grade students, would allow kids to spend remote learning days at the center, which would provide a safe environment with internet access. This would be especially useful for parents who work during the day and have to leave their kids home alone.
“Here,” said Dillenbeck,” “They’ll have a nice place where they can be signed on all day and get their work done.”
If it’s determined that there’s a community need, the programs would coincide with the opening of school in September, starting shortly after the first day of school, with the CYC sending students home with a letter detailing each program.
The surveys will be accepted “for as long as we can,” Dillenbeck said, explaining that “We have to have as much interest as possible, so the more people that respond, the better.”
Dillenbeck noted that “It’s been rough,” not having children populate the center for most of 2020. With safety a concern, and CYC attendees being integral in assisting with fundraising endeavors — boot drives, candy sales, dances, Summerfest, and the Boiling Pot 5K — the center hasn’t had an opportunity to fundraise this year.
“Funding is definitely an issue,” Dillenbeck stated, “Because there’s so many new regulations that we have to keep up with” including regular cleaning and disinfecting, “in order to stay safe for all the kids.”
“It’s been hard for us, but we’re hopeful,” said Dillenbeck, continuing, “As long as we get enough interest in the after school program and remote learning, hopefully we can keep going.”
She appreciatively stated, “the community has been great,” in supporting the center, adding that in this current, challenging climate, “We definitely can use support from anybody that’s willing to support us.”