UTICA, NY December 20, 2013 -- Some of the families at the Johnson Park Apartments (JPA) Christmas Celebration will be spending their first holiday together in years. Some of the mothers and the children at the party would be hard-pressed to remember the last holiday they celebrated at all.
“I know my children were looking forward to the Christmas Party, but, honestly, I don’t think they were as much as I was,” Katrina Genier, a mother living at Johnson Park Apartments said. “I’ve missed so many of these moments, and I know how precious they are.”
JPC hosted its Johnson Park Apartments and Emergency Residents Family Christmas Celebration on Friday, December 20, 2013 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event was a culmination of the year at JPC, and program residents and their children received presents. The gifts were the courtesy of the Hamilton College, Carbone Auto Group, Dollar General in New Hartford, Bank of Utica, JPC & Funding Partners the United Way, NYS Children & Adults Food Program (CACFP), Oneida County Youth Bureau, the City of Utica and various businesses and individual supporters.
JPC’s program participants include all formerly homeless women – some of them are currently living in an emergency shelter, some have or are going through reunification with their children, and some are battling severe substance abuse problems, while all of them have been chronically homeless with mental health disorders and/or have been dual diagnosed.
“So, often, they’re struggling,” said JPC Chief Operations Officer Rev. Ursula Meier. “They’re struggling to be better women, they’re struggling to stay sober, they’re struggling to get their dignity back and, for our mothers, they’re struggling to be a better parent. We like this event because it gives them a break from struggling and allows them to celebrate.”
During the party, we shared a nutritious Christmas dinner, sang Christmas carols and opened Christmas presents. JPC Board members, staff and clients shared stories of thanks and positive change.
“Sometimes it’s good to hear and give to expression just how far JPC as come. It is humbling to hear just how grateful many of our program participants are,” Rev. Dr. Maria A. Scates, D.D. JPC’s Founder and CEO, said. “We’re all a family here and this event was so amazing. Together, those of us who were considered community liabilities have and/or are becoming community assets. We are making a difference for the better in Johnson Park-Cornhill. We are living examples of positive change. We’re also so grateful that so many good people, organizations and businesses in the community have the hearts to step up and think about someone else’s Christmas not in just in words, but with actions and good deeds. Thank you to our community for giving and making the 2013 Christmas so special for our JPC Family.”
ABOUT JOHNSON PARK CENTER
Johnson Park Center (JPC) is located in the Johnson Park-Cornhill community of Utica. In 1995, JPC CEO/Founder Rev. Dr. Maria A. Scates, D.D., a formerly homeless veteran, came to Utica and went to the worst area in the inner-city: Cornhill. It was known for drugs, crime, violence, gangs, murder and full of trash, garbage and debris.
Through vision, dedication, commitment and hard work and with our community development strategies anchored in affordable low-income safe and supportive housing, we've seen the revitalization of the Johnson Park-Cornhill Community. Today Johnson Park is a beautiful, clean and safe and place where the homeless, the poor and the needy can come get help.
Through supportive housing and our various programs we teach our program participants the ABC's: to be A-accountable for your actions, B-set boundaries in your life; C-be committed to positive change and we recently added D-make a decision to do it. It’s about changing people lives, attitudes and the community. Though supportive housing, people like Rev. Dr. Scates, who were once considered a community liability, are now considered and able to serve as community assets.
To date, JPC has receive over $10 million dollars for our capital projects & operations funds which has created a total of 33 safe & supportive housing low-income permanent housing for homeless mothers, children and single females. We also provide emergency housing services for traditional and non-traditional families and women. Our strategies for community development includes recreation/education/ positive socialization for children and their families, a food pantry, a community garden and a nutritious meal feeding program as well as mentoring/advocacy and life coaching.
This News Article was written by Mr. Marques Phillips, JPC Public Relations/Media Coordinator