October 27, 2015
HORNELL, NY – In response to the Monday night letter and statement from 6th Ward Alderman Dan McManus, and public comment made at the Monday night Common Council meeting by Mark and Connie D’Arcy, Hornell Area Concern for Youth Executive Director Susan Hooker sent out the following statement.
Hornell Area Concern for Youth has been serving the Hornell Area since 1975. We have a number of issues we work diligently at to assist the youth in our area. During the last school year we were in 125 classes in Western Steuben School serving 2,307 children with monthly substance abuse prevention lessons from research based curriculum, such as, Too Good for Drugs. Currently we are working in the area junior and senior high school with the RED Ribbon Campaign to encourage children to pledge not to use drugs. We actively participate and attend the Steuben Prevention Coalition, which is trying to bring awareness to drug and alcohol issues affecting our youth. We provide free counseling services to Western Steuben youth.
Over the past year we have served 4,200 dinners Monday through Saturday during the months children attend school.
Through our youth center we had 514 youth attend for over 8,500 visits. We had 13,772 activities that were planned. We provide education on a variety of topics relevant to teens, arts and crafts, service opportunities, field trips, mentoring, cultural activities, nutritional activities, and physical activities.
Since 1975 we have been asked by the community leaders to assist those youth who need support. There are a number of disturbing issues that teens have to face; from drug and alcohol use by peers and family; poverty; emotional and social problems like depression and bullying. Many of these issues bring on anger and when anger is expressed inappropriately that is when we step in to offer assistance and better choices. These youth have a variety of problems that many of us are glad to have never had to deal with in our life time. Some are temporary issues that with some support over the rough patch do exceptionally well. Others need our guidance for ongoing periods of their adolescents. These are not Hornell Area concern for Youth children that so many want to label them as if this is a negative aspect of their being. These are children who reside in the City of Hornell. Each child deserves the best that we can give them. I am proud that our Mayor and common council has understood this all these years and stood behind our work. I respond with a story of a youth who lives in the 6th ward who was probably one who was fighting in his neighborhood that the police had to respond to. When he first started coming he was very angry and not making the best choices. His friends were having a negative influence on him and exposing him to drugs and violence. He worked very hard with our counselor Paul Shephard who has been with the agency since 2006. He participated in positive programming like mentoring; visiting art museums; gardening and offering a safe place with a positive message. As he became older we encouraged him to do service work through the agency as a role model to other youth. We encouraged him to participate in athletics and sports teams at school as a positive outlet to his anger. Through our assistance he applied to the Proaction Summer Youth Employment and was placed at Concern for his summer job. He was very proud of his work and the success of earning his own money and did well on planning how to save and decide what were good spending choices. He is currently making fantastic choices. These are the kind of successes we work for everyday. We have many examples like this one. Do they come automatically- no. It takes months sometimes. The work is well worth it. Do we care about our neighborhood- very much so. We have gone to neighbors and asked them to call us if there is a problem with a youth to see if we know them and can assist. The Hornell Police Department has been an exceptional ally in helping us with situations involving children. The staff we have are exceptional and well trained and get continual education.
The Darcy’s issue is about a shared driveway that occasionally gets blocked by one of our volunteers who think it is a parking spot. We have always asked volunteers to move and are willing to work with them.
October 27, 2015