Something special is happening in the Bronx at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. The more than 75-year-old organization has been a fixture in the community, helping generations of residents with free and affordable programs.
With services for toddlers to senior citizens, MMCC offers programs in the city’s most-in-need borough, including pre-K, daytime senior activities, after-school to summer day camp and employment assistance. MMCC is an epicenter for lending a helping hand.
MMCC operates programs at public schools, public housing projects and its own facility on DeKalb Avenue in the Bronx. Its flagship 35,000-square-foot building, which includes a gym, various classrooms, community space and a computer lab, is not affiliated with Montefiore Medical Center but has a 99-year lease with the health facility next door.
The roots of MMCC got back to the early 1940s, when the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. Programs were run from a storefront on Gun Hill Road, from basements on Wayne Avenue and from rented rooms in a local school. Today, MMCC’s reach can be felt across the Bronx, improving social conditions the residents of the borough face.
“We touch the lives in different ways of 35,000 people a year, whether it’s child care to the adult services,” said MMCC Executive Director Donald Bluestone. “We are helping young people with how to be better citizens, learning to care about their neighborhood and their communities and develop positive lives.”
The community center operates Boys and Girls Clubs in its main building, Co-op City and Parkchester, with teen programs for high schools students that include homework help, college entrance assistance and test prep. Teens can participate in the Young Adult Internship Program, fitness programs and culinary arts training.
Teens also get mentoring and life skills through the Passport to Manhood and Smart Girls programs. The Youth Council shapes the program on the basis of interests.
“We are protecting them from violence and gangs when they are here,” said Lester Thornton, director of the MMCC Boys and Girls Clubs. “The teens participate in community service, and we have discussions on issues that matter to them.
MMCC is also a project sponsor for the Summer Youth Employment Program, which recently began its citywide application process for young people aged 14 to 24.
On weekends, children can participate in creative and education classes that involve dancing, photography, music lessons and fitness. Students in need of extra help with school work can also take advantage of reading and math tutoring. In the summer, students from kindergarten to the sixth grade can attend Mosholu Day Camp from late June to August, an opportunity for students to travel out of the city and experience the wilderness and nature. MMCC holds the day camps at Harriman State Park.
Director of the MMCC camps Mike Halperen said that 600 to 700 campers in the summer come from the Bronx and Westchester. Students participate in swimming, sports, music and art and they learn about nature.
“Our whole philosophy is giving them new experiences, and right away the atmosphere itself is the newest experience for them,” he said. “Nature is a big part of our program.”
Expanding on its plethora of programs, MMCC is in the process of trying to acquire a grant for a music program called “Hit Makers.” Students would learn about music production and songwriting and would record original songs. Using “The Vocal Lounge,” young artists would also learn about voice types in music.
At the end of the program, students would receive a CD of their work and stage a final performance. “Hit Makers” would cost $86,000 to pay for teachers, software, computers and supplies.
“The goal is to inspire students to be creative and design unique pieces while enhancing their literacy by focusing on music creation and production,” said Laurie Bandremer, MMCC director of development.
To learn more about MMCC, call 718-882-4000 or go to www.mmcc.org.