RYE, N.Y. -- When Rye YMCA member Stuart Reis visited Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester last winter, he was impressed by the range of the organization’s activities and the dedication of its staff to the low-income, mostly Latino families the center serves.
However, it was Don Bosco’s vision for a new early childhood language and literacy program that caught his attention. Helping this center become a reality, Reis thought, might be the perfect project for the Rye Y’s Togetherhood program.
On July 8, a group of Togetherhood volunteers, working with local artist Daniel DeNapoli, put the finishing touches on a large, vibrant triptych that will brighten the walls of the language and literacy center when it opens this fall.
The project, a collaboration between the Port Chester-based Don Bosco, the Rye YMCA and the Rye Arts Center, involved 25 adults, teens and children who spent a total of three days filling in DeNapoli’s three-panel sketches.
Togetherhood is a national YMCA social responsibility initiative that engages Y members in community service. Since its formation in May 2014, the Rye Y Togetherhood Committee has organized five projects involving 100 members.
In addition to Don Bosco, the organizations served include St. Ignatius Middle School (in the South Bronx), The Sharing Shelf, My Sister’s Place and the Rye Nature Center.
Martha Sud, an independent language and literacy specialist working with Don Bosco, explained that the new program has a twofold purpose: to prepare 20 prekindergarten Latino children with the skills and knowledge required for a successful entrance to kindergarten and provide immigrant families with simple daily practices to boost their children’s school readiness.
"The triptych mural expresses the importance of early childhood education as the stepping- stone for a successful future of minority youth,” Sud said. “Concurrently, this vivid mural hopes to inspire children and their immigrant families to become engaged in using literacy artifacts during their time at the center."
For more information about the Togetherhood program or upcoming projects, contact Denise Woodin, the Rye YMCA’s director of community impact and social responsibility, at 914-967-6363, ext. 101, or firstname.lastname@example.org.