by Bill Batson
On November 14, 2015, the Nyack Center will celebrate 25 years of service at their Legacy Gala. The annual event recognizes residents who have made a difference in the life of the Nyack Center and our community. This year’s Legacy honorees are Chris & Bert Hughes and Sally & Roger Seiler. As the Legacy Gala draws near, here is the story of how the Nyack Center came to be and how people are rallying to support their 25th Anniversary.
Nyack Art Collective
As part of their First Friday monthly arts festival, the Nyack Art Collective mounts group show at Prohibition River. On Friday, September 4, the exhibition will honor the Nyack Center’s 25 Anniversary. Thanks to generosity of the participating artists, 50% of proceeds are being donated to Nyack Center. The opening reception is from 8-10p at Prohibition River.
Weekly Blog Sings the Praises of The Nyack Center
Each Tuesday up until the end of the year, the Nyack Center Blog will feature a post from friends and supporters extolling the value of the organization to our community. So far, Peter Lang, Win Perry, Jan Degenshein and the Nyack Branch of the NAACP have submitted testimonials.
Visit the blog post weekly at Nyackcenter.org
25th Anniversary Legacy Gala
On Saturday, November 14 at 7p, Nyack Center will hold their annual Legacy Gala. This year’s Legacy honorees are Chris & Bert Hughes and Sally & Roger Seiler. For ticket and journal information visit Nyackcenter.org
To contribute, contact the Nyack Center at Nyackcenter.org or you can send a check to the Nyack Center, PO Box 764, Nyack, NY 10960
Nyack Center operates from the oldest surviving house of worship in our village, the First Presbyterian Church. The original sandstone building that stood on this spot was erected on land deeded by Peter Depew in 1816. It was torn down and replaced by today’s familiar wooden edifice in 1839.
There is a life force emanating from the building that stands at Broadway and Depew Avenue: an aura from almost 200 years of uninterrupted community activity. If it were not for an enlightened congregation and a dynamic woman, this building would have been demolished in 1990.
Jane Sherman knew that a dwindling number of congregants could no longer sustain the church. As a Presbyterian elder and the head of Nyack’s Park and Recreation Committee, Sherman was also acutely aware of the need for space for young people in the community. Finding herself at the intersection of need and opportunity, Sherman was able to convince the Presbytery of New York to confer the church property to a non-profit for $1.
A less principled religious body would have been happy to sell this prime parcel to a real estate developer. Instead, they embraced the piety of allowing the not-for-profit function of this property to endure. In response to Sherman’s bold gesture, the community stepped forward to help secure this legacy by donating funds and volunteering labor: people like Jo and Peter Baer, who made substantial contributions to help transform a 19th century church into a 21st century community center.
The task of continuing the epic tradition of good works at the site now falls on the skilled shoulders of Kim Cross, Executive Director of the Nyack Center. Here are just some of the programs that Cross and her Assistant Director Nicole Hines oversee:
- A Breakfast Club that ensures that 44 children get a healthy start each day.
- An after school program that provides 87 children with a safe place for instruction and recreation.
- Late Night Friday Events for Teens, a collaboration between the Nyack Center Teen Council and Our Community Against Drug Abuse (OCADA)
- A computer time program gives internet access to 40 young people.
The entire community is a stakeholder in the future of Nyack Center. The building houses celebrated art programs like Rivertown Films. Important civic institutions, including the NAACP and Gay Pride of Rockland use the facility for meetings and special events. There is no other venue that has both the capacity and the mandate to open its doors to every segment of the community, sometimes at a moments notice.
An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Center Celebrates 25 Years of Service” © 2015 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.