By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – Senator James Skoufis detected a genuine need in the City of Poughkeepsie and a pathway along with vision for the way he could help out; another Senator, Rob Rolison, across the political aisle, took that initiative lead and carried the ambitious “baton” to the finish.
The result: $160,000 in funding for the City of Poughkeepsie, helping strengthen public safety, support our youth and prevent violence was officially announced last Thursday afternoon in front of Poughkeepsie’s City Hall. Here, the two Senators: Rolison a Republican and Skoufis, a Democrat, stood side-by-side, revealing the positive and productive results that can come from parties working together for the betterment of all as well as dispelling many of the fallacies connected with their seemingly sparse occurrences.
“The perception is sometimes that nothing gets done in Albany because of parties not working together, but the truth is James and I have been doing many things together,” explained Rolison about that united party approach.
Those critical efforts, which were targeted at a “whole community approach,” according to Rolison, will deliver much-needed monies to several organizations: The Boys & Girls Club of Poughkeepsie, The Poughkeepsie Performing Arts Academy, Rebuilding Our Children & Community Youth Services, SNUG Family Services as well as the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department. Representatives from each of those pivotal community organizations were on hand Thursday when the official announcement of the funding was unveiled. Also, present was City of Poughkeepsie Mayor, Marc Nelson, who was brimming with gratitude and hope at the promise that such help and support represents.
“I get the privilege of accepting this funding,” said Nelson. “It gives me great, personal pleasure to see times like these that are working and marrying non-profits with the community and government.”
That “bridge” will specifically result in improved equipment and training for the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, “making a big difference to do their jobs better,” according to their Captain. Those enhancements will ultimately provide integral assistance aimed at reducing violence.
Meanwhile for the City of Poughkeepsie-based Boys & Girls Club, the monies will translate to increased support services as well as help for Project Learn, the afterschool piece of the popular-critical youth not-for-profit for children in grades K-8 by improving reading skills, producing a spiked high school graduation rate, leading to opportunities for youth to pursue higher education preparing for the career of their choice according to the groups’ Executive Director, Kevin White. It will further assist White’s other Poughkeepsie-based youth program, the Performing Arts Academy, delivering instruction in such creative endeavors as; dance, theater, and visual arts, targeted for children and youth ranging from 3-8 years of age.
Another organization SNUG (guns spelled backwards), whose aims are to reduce violence, “change group norms,” through mediation and other proactive, hands-on means, the fiscal boost will bring still further help and hope.
“This is going to really assist with professional development of our nine people office staff, such as traveling fees involved in taking classes and training to do direct service work with the community,” explained Ykim Anderson, SNUG Program Manager at the Poughkeepsie site, who also pointed out the over 130 mediations the group has completed, all of which could have prevented potential shootings. On average, at least 10 mediations transpire, each carrying with it life-saving, prevented violence.
The whole community lift-entailing child and family resources and police monies to deter-prevent violence-reveals the potency of cooperation and inextricable links between multiple components in a City. It also portrays the beautiful things that can bloom when people from different political parties come together for the betterment of all they serve.
“I’ve always seen Rob Rolison as someone to approach things from a bipartisan angle; we actively seek out ways to work together at times like these,” said Skoufis about his colleague who he considers a friend. “A lot of these issues are not Democratic or Republican; rather they are about doing the right thing.”