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Monday, October 26, 2020

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Community Hub receives $200K grant

Sep 24, 2020

By Joseph Abraham - co-editor

New York State Senator Jen Metzger presented a $200,000 check to the Monticello Central School District on Tuesday for the St. John Street School Community Hub. Pictured from left is Monticello Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans, Community Hub Program Manager Marty Colavito, NYS Senator Jen Metzger, Monticello Mayor Elect George Nikolados and Monticello CSD Board of Education President Lori Orestano-James.
MONTICELLO -- Monticello Central School District Board of Education President Lori Orestano-James reminded those at Tuesday's press conference at the St. John Street School Community Hub of the building's history.
The far end was built in 1894, and the portion they were standing on [in front of the theater] opened during the Works Progress Administration in 1934. One takeaway she had is that they just don't make buildings like it anymore.
“We are very blessed to have this right here in the middle of our community,” she said.
Due to the hard work and shared vision of the school district and partnering officials, organizations and agencies, the building has seen new life, as a place to provide much needed services to students and the local community.

And the collective effort hasn't gone unnoticed.
The Hub, which opened its doors in the Fall of 2019, is receiving $200,000 in State and Municipal Facilities Capital (SAM) grant funding through NYS Senator Jen Metzger's office to defray the cost of renovations.
“With this money, we will be able to start a much needed rebirth of this building, so that we have this for years to come as a centralized focus in our community, for all, to be able to have a safe place to come, a place to be able to get the services they need and a place for students of all ages,” said Orestano-James.
Even though the Hub is located in Monticello, it serves the entire district, whose residents stretch several miles beyond the county seat.
“Our kids face many challenges, and if we want to truly give them the opportunities they need to succeed, we have to think about education differently and the kinds of resources we need to make available to students and their families,” Metzger said. “This is precisely what the Monticello Central School District and community partners are doing through the Monticello Community Hub, and I am thrilled to be able to secure funding for this inspiring project. The idea is to provide a safe space for socializing, recreation, learning new skills, and being creative, and if I had a resource like it as a kid, I would have been there every day.”
According to Monticello Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans, when the Hub expanded last year the district saw upwards of 60 students per day visiting for after school tutoring, enrichment opportunities, mentorship, or even just stopping in to shoot some hoops, play a board game or ping pong with friends.
“While the pandemic has unfortunately put our after school programming on a temporary hiatus, there is no question that our students want and need opportunities to develop new interests, learn new skills and grow in a safe, supervised and supportive environment,” Dr. Evans said.
He noted that the funding secured by Metzger will help improve the Hub's technological infrastructure, increasing WiFi capabilities, adding laptops, iPads and other devices.
They will also begin to make physical improvements to the building that he said will allow the district to move closer to their ultimate goal of evolving the Hub into a true multi-generational community center, providing resources, activities, medical care, and opportunities for all of Monticello's residents.
“We know that by strengthening our community, we strengthen our students' potential for success in the future,” Dr. Evans said. “We are fortunate to be surrounded by local leaders, the village, [Community Hub Program Manager] Marty Colavito, Cornell Cooperative Extension, organizations and agencies who share this philosophy, and who have been eager supporters of this endeavor every step of the way. And we are especially grateful for Senator Metzger for her work in this process. Together, we will continue to weave a tapestry of resources, services and opportunities to meet the needs of this community and improve the quality of life for all.”
Community Hub Program Manager Marty Colavito said that while listening to everybody, the first thing he said to himself was ‘this is a blip.'
“There's a pandemic, people panic, but the thing we have in our favor, the strength we have, is that we're not panicking, we're planning,” said Colavito. “We're taking the time, we're using this as an opportunity to stay together and to make it better.”

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