Monday, August 22, 2011

Clean Up Squad Focus Group Notes

The following are notes from this year's Clean Up Squad's Focus Group. The purpose was to find out what youth are dealing with on a daily basis that impact how they feel about their community.

Focus Group Notes

Red Team-

Issues that affect youth
Littering, cursing, graffiti, yelling from grown ups, destroying or damaging property, people harassing me and my friends, people insulting us for no reason

Fun things to do without money:
Playing with friends
Hiking in areas around Kingston
Playing in the leaves
Going to parks
School trips

With money, what would they want to do?
Go to the movies
Adopt animals and take care of them
Eat ice cream
Clothing shopping
Food in general

Issues that in the community are seen as being caused by youth
“Sometimes I just feel like I’ll be made fun of if I don’t do the bad things everyone else is doing”
“I get pissed off. I want to damage things so I feel less bad”
Showing off, getting popular

Connection between the community services we have performed and seeing a friend vandalize property:
“I would tell them I worked hard on it and to back off”
“Ask them to stop”
“Help them find something else to do instead of destroying what I did”
“Put them in my shoes, ask them how mad they would be if someone did that to their work”
“I would tell them it’s like going into someone’s house and painting all of the clothes the person was wearing and owned. It’s just a violation of space and its rude”

Are you proud to live in Kingston?
Majority said No.

What would you change in Kingston?
More places to shop and an arcade or skating place in Kingston, where we can WALK
More parks and easier access to the zoo
Water park!
“WE NEED JOBS. We need to help out our moms and dads and buy things for ourselves too”
“I would change some of the people here.”
Take away the guns.
Stop all this violence.
Make walking places safer.

What is your favorite place to hang out in Kingston?
Mall, home, Boices, Lauren Park, Dietz Stadium,

Where are you scared of in Kingston?
Henry and
Cedar St
“I hear gun shots sometimes, those places scare me”
“Some people drive crazy and I’m afraid they’ll hit me”

Describe your group of friends that you hang out with the most
Loud, some like/some hate school, honest,
“Some are disrespectful to their parents, like real bad, and it makes me feel uncomfortable and sometimes mad at them for it.”

If you saw someone get pushed around, yelled at or beat up- what would you do?
Tell an adult
Break it up
Try to help them come to a compromise
Mind my business and stay out of the way

Gold Team

Issues that affect youth
Second hand smoke, littering, graffiti, guns

Fun things to do without money:
“Nothing except borrowing stuff from other people”
“sometimes stealing if it gets bad”

With money, what would they want to do?
Shopping for clothes and sneakers
Buy food I like

Issues that in the community are seen as being caused by youth
Bee Bee guns and firecrackers, trespassing, graffiti, harassment

“Frustrated, treated badly at home so I treat everyone else badly”
Feeling mean

Connection between the community services we have performed and seeing a friend vandalize property:
I would tell them it wasn’t a joke
It would make me feel like garbage
It would make me feel disrespected

Are you proud to live in Kingston?
“It’s dirty/filthy”
“violence- shootings, criminals on the street messing with me and my friends”
“Bad influences around me”
“Instigators trying to get me to do bad things”
“Physical, emotional, verbal and sometimes sexual harassment”

What would you change in Kingston?
Less violence
More community clean ups
More stores
More jobs for kids

What is your favorite place to hang out in Kingston?
YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and Everette Hodge Community Center

Where are you scared of in Kingston?
Basically from
St. James St.
down to Dunkin Donuts

Describe your group of friends that you hang out with the most
Adventurous and funny

If you saw someone get pushed around, yelled at or beat up- what would you do?
“call the cops”
“help out and try to stop it”
“beat them up back to even out the fight”
“walk away if it didn’t have anything to do with me”

Silver Team-

Issues that affect youth
Not enough exciting things to do, people yelling and not getting anything accomplished

Fun things to do without money:
"Hanging with my friends. It's free!"

If I had money:
Go roller skating
Go to McDonald’s
Go to the Movies
Go Kart Racing
Mini golf
Eat at the buffet
Buy things for my family and friends
Treat others with gifts they don’t usually get

Issues that in the community are seen as being caused by youth
Damaging property, starting fights

“If they don’t get the love they need at home, sometimes they want to destroy things to feel better”

Connection between the community services we have performed and seeing a friend vandalize property:
“It makes us feel like they’re no longer our friends. Now they are criminals.”

Are you proud to live in Kingston?
“my family is here”
“I never get lost here, I just know my way around”
“the food is good here”
“it’s my home, I don’t worry too much about the bad things because there is a lot of good things too”

What would you change in Kingston?
Free, fun activities
A place where I can be with my friends and not be yelled at for being a big group of kids (we’re not doing anything, we just need someplace to be!)

What is your favorite place to hang out in Kingston?
Hodge Center, at home, Boys and Girls Club, Metro Park (this is actually Barmann Park)

Where are you scared of in Kingston?
“I’m not really scared of places here. It’s just kind of normal for me. I don’t know any other way than it is now”

Describe your group of friends that you hang out with the most
“My friends are actually a lot more responsible than people give them credit for. We just look bad”
“My family is my best friend”
“I surround myself with people who act like me”

If you saw someone get pushed around, yelled at or beat up- what would you do?
“I would let it go for a bit, but if it was getting serious, I would stop that bully”
“I would scream really loud to stop it”
“I wouldn’t tell anyone, they won’t let us hang out there anymore then”

Blue Team-
“We spent most of the time talking about why the work we are doing this week matters. Here is what we came up with:”

The Van Buren St. Park is a good place to be, but it was kind of wrecked before we got there. We made it look a lot better.

If someplace looks better, we are less likely to make it look bad. But if there is already litter, why would I worry about my bag of chips on the ground

It was really nice to hear from people that we were making Kingston look better. I had a neighbor who told me I was doing a good job (she has yelled at me before for stuff I’ve done in the past, so I felt a lot better about seeing her now)

It was nice to be able to afford some new clothes for school and I didn’t mind working hard for it.

It was nice to be able to be in a group of our friends, working but also getting to be with eachother, without being yelled at because we were a big group

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kingston Jr. Common Council Application


Kingston Youth Common Council
Junior Representative Application
Eligible Ages 14-20




Phone number:

E-mail address:

If attending school, where do you attend?:

If working, where do you work?:

Volunteer Experience:


Why are you interested in becoming a Junior Representative for your ward? (Attach separate sheet of paper if needed)

What are some skills you feel you have to offer to the Kingston Youth Common Council?
(examples: computer skills, flyer/poster design, street outreach/getting the word out about an upcoming event)

What are some skills you would like to learn from your peers or our adult mentors? (examples: public speaking, organizing meetings, formal letter writing)

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Junior Representative! Applications are due by July 14th and applicants will be notified by July 18th. Selected youth representatives will meet every other Thursday from 1pm-3pm.

Kingston Youth Common Council Summer Schedule is as follows:
July 21st, August 4th, August 18th, September 1st

Send your application one of the following ways:
PO Box 3516 Kingston, NY 12402
Fax- 845-331-0526 (Attention: Kingston Cares)
Any questions, please call Megan Weiss at 845-331-1110

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sustainability Meeting #1 minutes

June 21st
Sustainability Meeting
Respectfully submitted by Megan Weiss

Megan Weiss- Kingston Cares/Family of Woodstock
Michael Berg- Family of Woodstock
Kristen Wilson- Healthy Kingston for Kids
Cheryl DePaolo- Ulster Prevention Council
Maureen Bowers- Kingston School Board
Ellen Reinhard- Tobacco Free Action Coalition
Jennifer Brien- Mid-Hudson Prevention Resource Center
Ruth Staber- Kingston Cares/Family of Woodstock
Mariel Fiori- La Voz

Federal funding for Kingston Cares will cease on September 29th and a series of groups are being brought together to discuss what the end of this funding means and to strategize creative ways to keep some initiatives going. This is the first meeting in that series.

It was noted that while some initiatives Kingston Cares offers do not cost money, they do require time and coordination. The committee agreed that all avenues should be explored, including searching for additional funding (which happens on a daily basis), outreaching for volunteers- perhaps even a volunteer coordinator, and media campaigns to alert the community and gather support.

Kristen Wilson is working with Megan Weiss on the Kingston Youth Common Council. A part time worker from her partnership will also be working on this initiative. An outreach effort for applicants for the Jr. Common Council is being launched right now, and Maureen Bowers is inquiring about sending out a flyer and an application through the Kingston High School mailing list. She will contact Megan as soon as she has found out. Training for new Jr. Common Council members will start July 21st. Efforts are being made to include representatives from the Saugerties Youth Council (Roland from the Boys and Girls Club and Ruth Staber from Family) so that resources are available for both projects.

Megan Weiss is currently training volunteers of the Basement Prodigy youth show program how to provide a safe and alcohol-free opportunity for youth to enjoy local music. Staff will be trained on the dangers of alcohol ads and working with teen volunteers.

The Mayoral Awards require a few steps- Sending out and reminding schools/agencies/adults to nominate deserving youth, calling the selected youth, writing the short speech, outreaching to local businesses for a prize for youth, and sending press releases to media. The City of Kingston pays for certificates and frames and organizes time/date of awards. Mariel Fiori expressed interested in utilizing her media skills to help with the writing portion of this project. Kristen Wilson stated that she could commit to sending out monthly reminders to people for nominations. A central location for nominations to come in is needed.

Maureen Bowers is also going to look into the new Dignity for All Students Act and how that relates to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Project. Cheryl DePaolo stated that she would share with Family an RFP for evidence based practices funded by UPC.  

Ellen Reinhard stated she will working with John Miller from the Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force on a semi-regular basis (2-4 times a year) to continue to link alcohol and tobacco prevention as Kingston Cares has done.

Jennifer Brien offered the resources of the PRC to help train a volunteer coordinator if need be and/or continuing to be a connection national technical assistance such as CADCA.

The second sustainability meeting is scheduled for June 22nd at 4pm at the Everette Hodge Center.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sustaining Kingston Cares

Attached is a letter being sent out to community partners and local residents. Please read below. It's not too late to get involved!                                                                                                                   

   May 26, 2011
Dear Friends,
                The funding that has supported Kingston Cares from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration will end at the end of September of this year. While we have been actively seeking alternative funding, to date, we have not identified other sources to continue the operation as it is currently constituted. While we will continue to apply for and seek funding to continue, we feel it is time to start to plan for the possibility that Kingston Cares will have to become a non-funded collaborative.
                Over the last few years, the principle achievements of Kingston Cares have been as follows:
·         The Mayoral Awards- a youth recognition award given for positive decision making, courage, selflessness, community service and personal growth. To date this program has acknowledged 140 Kingston youth and has been emulated in Ulster County and in other communities throughout the country.
·         The Olweus Bullying Prevention Initiative- leadership of Kingston Cares initiated and fundraised to implement the evidence-based Olweus Bullying prevention curriculum in 5 schools in the Kingston School District and 3 schools in the Saugerties and Onteora School Districts. The instruction and assistance with implementation was provided by the NYS Center for School Safety.
·         The Midtown Project- the collaborative has focused on studying and addressing the issues confronting residents of the Midtown portion of Kingston. Toward this end:  the collaborative implemented a bi-annual door to door survey of Midtown residents to get their input on quality of life issues which has been used for planning and evaluation purposes; helped to organize Midtown Make a Difference Day, a community celebration which includes information dissemination and fun activities for all residents; developed beautification projects including plantings on Franklin Street and more recently being a co-sponsor of the Dig Kids project with the Kingston Land Trust, which promotes healthy eating and an understand of where our food comes from through sponsorship of youth mentors who educate younger youth about the values of hard work, nutrition, growing your own food and beautifying the community.
·         Sponsored healthy recreational activities for youth- Kingston Cares has been a cosponsor of the Summer Sizzle Basketball League, created a free music and arts program for youth in the Midtown area at the Hodge Center and helped coordinate the efforts of Rob Stango, who has utilized his facility, The Basement Music  Venue, to hold alcohol-free all-ages music shows, which have showcased young local musicians.
·         Promoted healthy behaviors to prevent the early onset of tobacco and substance use- in collaboration with Tobacco Free Action Coalition, Kingston Cares advocated for limiting tobacco and alcohol advertising targeted to young people and advocated to curtail smoking in public parks and municipal facilities; implemented T.I.P.S. training at alcohol serving establishments, in conjunction with the Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force, advocated for the passing of the Social Host Legislation, and sponsored community forums for both teens and parents to discuss the dangers of youth substance use and underage drinking.
·         Assisted young people to rectify past mistakes and gain life and worker readiness skills- towards this end, staff of Kingston Cares organized and supervised community service projects required to fulfill the sentencing of participants of the Youth Court, held life and worker readiness trainings connected to the Kingston Youth Job Fair, and facilitated access to needed services for youth including: emergency shelter; anger management; substance abuse prevention; healthcare; and employment assistance. Lastly, Kingston Cares has served for many years as a sponsor for interns who gain skills while helping improve the community.
·         The Jr. Common Council- we have recently begun to recruit and train youth who will serve as representatives of their ward and be mentored by members of the Kingston Common Council. Not only will the youth be learning such skills as public speaking, community planning, budgeting and formal writing skills, but they will be able to give significant input to local leaders on the needs and views of our youth community.
It will take significant planning and personal commitment to be able to sustain these important initiatives without paid staff.
                In order to begin the planning for the future of Kingston Cares, we are calling two meetings of the full consortium which we hope all interested participants of the collaborative will attend, to explore possible additional funding sources and/or how we move forward without funding. In order to encourage attendance, we have decided to hold two meetings, one on Tuesday morning June 21st at 9am and one on Wednesday June 22nd at 4pm. Both meetings will be held at the Everette Hodge Community Center. Please R.S.V.P. us at 845-331-1110 or at and if you can’t make the meeting, let us know how you would like to participate.
                We can all be extremely proud of the achievements that we have collaboratively made. It would be a grave loss to the City of Kingston and the Kingston City School District if we cannot find a way to continue this worthwhile collaboration. See you at one of the two meetings at the Everette Hodge Community Center.
Best Regards,                                                                                                    Best Regards,

Michael Berg                                                                                                     Megan Weiss
Executive Director                                                                                            Project Coordinator
Family of Woodstock, Inc.                                                                               Kingston Cares

Community Perceptions and Media Committee (Meeting Minutes)

Kingston Cares
Community Perceptions and Media Committee
Everette Hodge Community Center
May 18, 2011

Megan Weiss
Cheryl DePaolo
Michael D’Arcy
Lei Isaacs
Kristen Wilson
Ruth Staber
Frank Nazzaro
Michael Berg
Gerald Berke
Matthew Brownlee
Jocelyn Monroe
Sandra Thompson-Hopgood

Meeting Minutes
The meeting started with a go-around and introductions and a recap of the April meeting.

Megan Weiss presented a short (2 minute) video of an interview she performed with Joshua Thomas, an intern at the Hodge Center. The purpose of this project was to show how positive views of Midtown can be documented and promoted easily through video and social networking. This video was an experiment (and done on a low quality computer camera) and teens were asked questions such as: “why do you like living in this community”, “when you’re not at school or work, where do you like to hang out?” and “why do you come to the Hodge Center”. It was recommended that future videos include questions regarding whether or not individuals plan on remaining in Kingston after high school or college graduation. The video was uploaded on the Kingston Cares facebook as an example of how quickly we can generate content and share it with others.

Anezka Sebek was unable to make the meeting but has volunteered to help coordinate a photography project along with other volunteers. Kingston Cares will purchase disposable cameras and distribute them to youth and adults. Participants will be given instructions on using media releases (when faces are being shown in pictures). Kristen Wilson volunteered to collect information regarding similar photography projects by other organizations, including the use of Photovoice. Appropriate photos will be posted on a Midtown-specific facebook and some may printed and shown at local landmarks as well.

Michael D’Arcy has volunteered to lay the groundwork of a Midtown specific facebook and act as “moderator”/administrator while we start this project. A large portion of Kingston residents use facebook and this is a free tool to use. Matthew Brownlee and Jocelyn Monroe, both interns at the Hodge Center, brainstormed some ideas for names of the facebook that included: Midtown Cares, I <3 Midtown, Midtown Makes a Difference, Midtown Express, Midtown+, Midtown Matters, Midtown Highlights, Midtown Kingston Explorers, Explore Midtown Kingston. Committee members agreed to continue the conversation of issues regarding appropriate content and a description of the mission of the facebook page through e-mail.

Next meeting scheduled for: Wednesday June 15th at 4pm at the Everette Hodge Community Center

Monday, May 16, 2011

Local interviewers needed!

Hello everyone! Up above is a short welcome from the Kingston Cares Coordinator, Megan Weiss. Send us a question about Kingston Cares and Megan will answer ASAP. Future guests will include local teens, policy makers, community leaders and neighbors. Let us know if you have a question (or volunteer to be a Kingston Cares news correspondent!)

Call us at 845-331-1110
Skype us at Kingston-Cares
Or e-mail us at

Friday, April 1, 2011

April is National Alcohol Awarenss Month

It's April 1st but this is no joke. April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. Take a moment to think about the dangerous risks associated with alcohol and how you as an individual and we as a community can reduce alcohol related tragedies. Our funding source, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has designated this month's theme as "One too many":