COVID19 is devastating our community and the world. Right now, New York City is the American epicenter of COVID19's destruction. This pandemic has resulted in the closure of schools indefinitely. In response and in the interest of the health and safety of our families and staff, we closed our community center doors for our daily community programs. Unfortunately, this has left our entire program staff without work and without any income.
As a small non-profit and one of the only last standing community centers in NYC, we rely heavily on program fees to operate. Our center is a small humble structure and we have limits to how many kids we can serve daily. This limitation often excludes us from federal and city funding, which is more likely to fund bigger youth programs that are capable of serving hundreds and thousands of kids.
We believe in the quality of work that we do, and are proud of the unique types of youth programming that we offer. For the past few years, we have been working to become the first zero waste youth program in NYC and we boast an urban sustainability and climate justice curriculum that we hope will inspire our youth to become active and engaged leaders in their community. Since our youth program's inception in 2012, we have been urban farming with the Sixth Street kids through a longstanding partnership with the Fifth Street Farm Project. Through this work, we support the youth in developing an understanding of local circular economies, how they are more sustainable, supportive of our communities and how they can also support food justice in our community. We also offer creative expressive arts, visual arts and mindfulness as part of our youth curriculum. We serve families at varying income levels, offering services at a sliding scale based on household income. Many of our families are also struggling and we simply cannot ask them to cover fees for the months of non-service.
The last day of our youth program was on March 13 and since we've closed our doors, we've been taking the time to check in with our neighbors, families and each other. We've taken some time to process and absorb the feelings of this collective loss we are all feeling on varying levels. We understand the fragile nature of our society's structure and see how people are being impacted. People are struggling financially and are deeply stressed about housing and healthcare. Many of our families have found themselves in unstable situations due to COVID19. We want to continue to bring community together in any way that we can and we are hoping to continue to offer new creative ways of programming digitally for our community and beyond. We have already begun developing workshops that we can offer digitally and are actively supporting campaigns to advocate for housing rights and other issues we believe need to be addressed during this time. We signed onto a letter in support for the evictions moratorium that passed, are hoping for the rent suspension bill that Senator Gianaris just introduced and are offering our organizational support in any capacity that we can.
We are asking for financial support from our community to get us through this crisis. We are unsure how long this pandemic will continue to impact us, but if we achieve our funding goal, we will be able to ensure our programs staff of 6 people are supported through the summer. We know this is an extremely difficult time to be asking for money, but deeply appreciate any support you can offer— thank you for reading and please share this fund widely with your friends and family.
Wishing you all health, safety and stability. <3
With profound love, thanks and gratitude,
Sixth Street Community Center