Council salutes COCOA House’s 25 years

William Rivas works with kids after school at the COCOA House on Stanley St.

William Rivas works with kids after school at the COCOA House on Stanley St.

SCHENECTADY – During its final virtual meeting of the pandemic, the City Council saluted COCOA House and its quarter century of service as an after-school program that serves children in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood.

Also, Council President John Mootooveren said the council’s next meeting will be held in person at 5:30 p.m. July 6 in City Hall Room 110.

For the past 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic meetings were held virtually. Mootooveren said Monday was the last such meeting.

There was no discussion about whether the council would continue to allow virtual participation.

McCarthy said City Hall also would be open for in-person business July 6. It has been open by appointment only. McCarthy is still encouraging people who want to conduct city business to make appointments and take advantage of the ability to do things online.

The council also voted its support of state legislative bills that aim to enhance cricket throughout New York. Cricket is popular among the city’s Guyanese community. Two leagues compete at Grout Park, and the city is in discussions with one of the leagues about a lease agreement for upkeep of the park.

William Rivas, executive director of COCOA House, or Children of Our Community Open to Achievement, accepted the council and mayor’s resolution, which was read by sponsoring Councilwoman Carmel Patrick.

The citation honored the organization’s 25 years of continuous operation after its founding by Rachel Graham Summer, a native of the Hamilton Hill neighborhood whose “love for her community and understanding of the struggles of youth in her hometown” prompted her to start the nonprofit while she was a sophomore at Union College. She graduated Union College in 1999.

The organization now provides mentoring for low-income children and youth in Hamilton Hill, charging no fees for its services. It’s served more than 1,000 low-income children in Hamilton Hill the last 25 years.

Rivas grew up in Hamilton Hill, is an alumnus of COCOA House’s mentoring programs and has acknowledged that his participation in those programs saved his life, Patrick said.

COCOA House is renovating property adjacent to its facility to double its capacity.

“We are very thankful to have a city that believes in us and is willing to work with us to where you guys have, and we look forward to 25 years of expansion, growth, and continued support of our youth in our community, in education, economic status,” Rivas said.

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said the city was still in discussions with the Schenectady Softball Cricket Association, which is proposing to maintain and upgrade Grout Park through a lease agreement.

Porterfield expressed optimism that the city would eventually have a venue designated for cricket competition.

The council also signed off on the city’s extension of a contract with the University of Albany Center for Technology in Government for improving information collection in code enforcement. The original contract with the center has expired.

The new contract, from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2022, has an associated cost of $123,475.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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