Palmesano, O'Mara visit Hornell Area Concern for Youth

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Andrew Poole | Categories:
Hornell, N.Y. — Tuesday afternoon two state representatives visited a local youth organization that’s feeling a financial pinch from the state’s budget cuts. Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R-C-I, Corning) and state Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) stopped in at the Hornell Area Concern for Youth’s East Main Street office for an update on the organization’s programs and whether slashes to state funding has hampered the offerings. Concern for Youth offers programs ranging from alcohol, drug and tobacco prevention to outdoor learning to relationship building. It also works with children in academic fields, focusing particularly on math and science. Even with the serious topics, children attending the center after school still have time for fun with pool tables, outdoor trips, and using the gym and yard at Bryant Elementary School. “It’s a place where we can all hang out, make friends, and have fun,” said 11-year-old Zachary Fox. Steuben County Deputy Administrator Jack Wheeler said the before recent state cuts, the Hornell facility received approximately $20,000 from the Office of Family and Children Services. Funds still come in from other areas, he added, including the Department of Social Services. But with the state announcing a 50 percent cut in funding spread over two years, the available money will be shrinking. “Everyone will be seeing the same cut, unless something changes,” said Wheeler. “It’s more equitable that way, and it’s easier for everyone to budget.” And while funding has indeed forced Concern for Youth to tighten its belt, said Executive Director Susan Hooker, after school and Saturday activities are still regularly available. Hooker said trips for children have already been cut back, and some excursions have been redirected to an area cabin where programs focusing on science and the environment are offered. Along with scaling back trips, fundraising efforts have been increased where possible to combat the state cuts. “It will be a challenge this coming year. We’ve been very thrifty,” said Hooker. “I hope we don’t have to cut staffing. We’re trying to stay open six days a week.” Palmesano said that funding for organizations like the Hornell Area Concern for Youth could be more stable once the state’s finances are in better order. “This is a safe, reliable place that isn’t just a place to hang out. Kids can do school work here and there are other educational opportunities,” he said. Concern for Youth has five full-time employees, one part-timer, a full-time Americorps volunteer, and other community and high school volunteers. Through September, the program has worked with 8,669 children in 2011, duplicates included. Hornell Area Concern for Youth, located at 76 E. Main St., is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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