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NEWBURGH – With more than a dozen community leaders participating, Mount Saint Mary College and Mid Hudson Construction Management (MHCM) hosted a hard hat tour highlighting the extensive renovations to the college’s Guzman Hall, the future home of the Desmond Center for Community Engagement and Wellness.
Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey MSEd ’03, Newburgh Councilwoman Giselle Martinez ’20, Newburgh Councilman Anthony Grice MSEd ’07, Newburgh Ministry Executive Director Colin Jarvis, and others toured the building on Friday, July 8. On hand from the Mount were Jason N. Adsit, president of the college; George Abaunza, vice president for Academic Affairs; Nikki Khurana-Baugh, vice president for Advancement; as well as Scott and Ray Travis, owners of MHCM. The tour was led by Jim Tierney, project superintendent.
Funded in part by grants from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and New York State’s Higher Education Capital (HECap) program, the Desmond Center will provide accessible and equitable educational, health, and wellness services for community members and families in the local area, including the uninsured, while also creating learning opportunities for Mount students. Once completed, the college expects the center to serve more than 4,000 residents per year.
MHCM is renovating the first two floors of Guzman Hall to help support the Desmond Center’s mission. The finished space will include a two-story glass atrium, exam rooms for patients, and offices for healthcare staff and students. The former Founders Chapel is being transformed into a multipurpose room with expansive windows, providing views of campus and the Hudson River. Stained glass from the chapel will be incorporated into the new design to preserve the character of the former structure. The top floors will house resident students.
While standing in the new multipurpose room – with workers smoothing out concrete by the windows and tour participants snapping photos of the gorgeous views of the Hudson River – Harvey said that the Desmond Center “will be a home run” for the local community, “a home run out of the park.”
Although construction is expected to continue through December 2022, Desmond Center programming is already underway, spearheaded by Genesis Ramos, executive director of the center. Recent events included a COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinic, online health equity talks discussing healthcare disparities faced by women of color, and more.
“Our aim has been, and continues to be, to create wellness experiences not readily found in the community of Newburgh,” Ramos explained. “We want to identify and fill in the gaps and offer education and holistic wellness experiences that community members may not otherwise have access to.”
Future Desmond Center offerings will include a smoking cessation program, a program designed for young women of color centered around self-esteem and empowerment, service provider training on mental health topics, and health education events.