Several community sponsors distributed free food, school supplies, and over 300 backpacks to Nyack school district students at the community’s annual back-to-school barbeque on Aug. 28. The Nyack Center, Village of Nyack, Nyack NAACP, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Nyack Teachers Association, Hanneman Funeral Home, and other sponsors participated at the event. The generous efforts of the village also included a $3,000 donation from Nyack Rotary, and physical donations from People to People.
“We believe very strongly that every child matters,” said Kim Cross, Executive Director of the Nyack Center. “This barbeque ensures that every child has an equal chance for success.”
The event, although cancelled last year due to the pandemic, was attended by several community leaders. Following safety protocols, this year’s barbeque was allowed to continue in its ninth year.
“We created what we hope was a safe environment for the school district to come together before classes begin,” said Nyack Mayor Don Hammond. “Events like this barbeque demonstrate how important the community is to us. However, it is the local sponsors who put this on for their fellow neighbors. The entire community is included.”
“The joy is being together and having a good time is what makes this special for me,” said Nicole “Nikki” Hines, President of the Nyack NAACP. “Seeing smiles on people’s faces is what this barbeque is all about.”
One of the chief organizers, the Nyack Center, hosts programs throughout the year to assist Nyack families. Over the past year, the center distributed 70,000 family-style meals with the “goal to support working families,” said Cross. In addition, the Village of Nyack aims to fund the center for after-school activities, food drives, and frontline workers ensuring that children are being fed. “So many families would not be able to live in Nyack without the Nyack Center,” said Cross. “It takes all of us.”
“This gathering sets a precedent for community relations and development,” said Reverend Carl Washington III, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Nyack. “This is about bringing students back into community spaces and being connected to one another. This community desires to invest in its childrens’ future. The great diversity of kids demonstrated here today reveals that we must look out for each other.”
The Wonder Girls made an appearance at the community barbeque, as they host most of their volunteer programs in the Nyack Center.
“We are strengthening our presence in the community by being here today,” said Christine Favata, a Wonder Girls Ambassador. “We invite high school girls here in Nyack to join our program. It is crucial to see girls empowering other girls.”
The Wonder Girls is an after-school program for high school girls that teaches them leadership, business, and community skills. “Wonder Girls gives them the support, knowledge, and resources to stand on their own two feet,” said Natalie Maniscalco, Co-Founder of Wonder Girls. “We are excited to be a part of Rockland County that will benefit the community and the next generation of girls.”