Catholic Charities dedicates Hammondsport children’s facility - Catholic Courier
A photo collage of a ribbon cutting.

(Photo courtesy of Sue Byrnes)

Catholic Charities dedicates Hammondsport children’s facility

On May 17, at 48 Main St. in Hammondsport, Catholic Charities of Steuben/Livingston staff, along with community members and families, gathered to cut the ribbon for a new building for Laker Kids.

Laker Kids is an after-school child-care program open to students in prekindergarten through sixth grade.

Along with the ribbon-cutting, Catholic Charities honored James Keena with a special award for his donation of the new space and efforts to remodel the building for child-care regulations. He was given the the “Andrew Mazzella Compassion Award,” established in 2014 to honor Andrew Mazzella, who dedicated many years to Catholic Charities as both a volunteer and paid staff member to help low-income families in the community who were struggling. This award gives special recognition to individuals in Catholic Charities or the community who have given selflessly to improve the human condition.

The Laker Kids program began in 2017 in a school room in the Hammondsport Central School District with 12 children and two teachers. By the next year, it had grown to 24 children and moved to the school cafeteria. It was clear that new space was needed.

Keena owned a building in Hammondsport that he wanted Catholic Charities to look at, as he wanted to contribute to his town and make sure his building would be used for a much-needed service. Immediately after looking at the building, Catholic Charities staff knew this would be an excellent location to continue to grow the Laker Kids program.

A plan was put in place and the work began. Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay, Keena continued to collaborate the entire time to get the work done. He asked little of Catholic Charities and gave of himself selflessly to deliver a safe and comfortable environment for the children in the Hammondsport community. Continually his only question was, “What do you need and what do the children need?”

For these reasons, it was with great honor and privilege that Catholic Charities presented him with the 2023 Andy Mazzella Compassion Award in addition to dedicating the main hall in the new Laker Kids location as the “James Keena Activity Hall.”

Tags: Catholic Charities, Steuben County News
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