by Tom Pedulla –
As Kids’ Club of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow nears its 10th anniversary in June, its impact on local girls and boys who are striving for better lives is profound.
The organization estimates that it helps fund approximately 20 programs and assists 1,500 children per year as it approaches $1 million in donations since its inception. Most of that money was raised through individual donations.
“When people think of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, they don’t always expect that there is need here,” said Jennifer Liddy Green, president of Kids’ Club. “When you open people’s eyes to the fact that there are a lot of low-income families who could use additional support, it really seems to strike a chord and the response has been wonderful.”
Theresa Kilman, Linda Viertel and Laureen Barber founded Kids’ Club to fill a void created when the Boys and Girls Club of Tarrytown closed in June 2009.
“We didn’t have a facility at which to run programs,” Liddy Green said, “so we decided to become more of a support for other programs.”
There is no paid staff. The Board of Directors covers all administrative costs, ensuring that every dollar donated is used to assist an array of programs.
“We help kids basically from birth through high school and into college,” Green said.
The first initiative allowed 100 children to attend a local summer camp in July 2009. Many of the programs funded emphasize education, starting with early literacy for infants and toddlers and continuing into middle school and then into the latter years of high school when students are preparing for college entrance examinations and need assistance with the college application process.
“We enable students to have opportunities they might not otherwise have, sort of level the playing field in the community,” said Maryann Gallagher, secretary of Kids’ Club.
Recent years brought into focus the need to begin to develop skills at an early age and to provide tools necessary for advancement.
“Some deficiencies you just can’t make up in the college prep process. At that point, the catch-up is vast,” Gallagher said. “You have to start early.”
Kids’ Club supports the Advantage After School Program, which hires juniors and seniors at Sleepy Hollow High School who are from low-income families to help 100 children from Sleepy Hollow Middle School with homework and engage them in other worthwhile activities.
When Warner Library needs laptops and iPads so children who do not have those at home may use them for school work, Kids’ Club is there. A Breakfast for Bedding event is held every June to provide college-bound students with bedding and other dorm room necessities.
“We are funded on the principle of helping those who have trouble helping themselves,” said Ray Endreny, chairperson of the Outreach Committee.
His committee conducts site visits to evaluate the effectiveness of various undertakings. The visit to summer camp, the sight of children splashing in pools or romping in jumpy castles, is always delightful.
“When you are helping kids, the joy on their faces can be transparent,” Endreny said.
He experiences a very different vibe when he observes the stress and strain on the faces of students preparing for the college entrance exam.
“The joy isn’t apparent,” Endreny said, “but you know the work is important.”
The Hudson Independent presents “Unsung Heroes,” a series of articles profiling those who provide extraordinary service to the communities in the readership area. If you wish to suggest someone or some organization for this feature, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of that person or group’s background.