Newburgh Armory Unity Center Celebrates Progress through Parental Involvement

Newburgh Armory Unity Center 4th Anniversary and Groundbreaking

Over 400 children, their parents, and community leaders celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Newburgh Armory Unity Center (NAUC) on Saturday, December 6th with festivities, food and fun. The educational community center has served as a much-needed safe haven for children and their parents to enjoy educational and sports programming in the heart of Newburgh since late 2010.

Just before Thanksgiving that year, the New York National Guard turned over the former Armory to the City of Newburgh for the sum of $1, after significant negotiation led by New York State Senator William Larkin. The City had already agreed to lease the property to one of Orange County’s great philanthropists, William Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan, in turn, with Habitat for Humanity and local unions was already hard at work overseeing the renovation of the facility into a community center and organizing literacy and sports programs there.

The central theme of Saturday’s celebration was Progress Through Parental Involvement. Mr. Kaplan, Founder and Chairman of the Board of NAUC, singled out parents as the main contributor to the success of NAUC. “The parents who bring their children to the Armory each and every Saturday morning are the real heroes of this story,” he said. “It’s difficult to work hard all week and then wake up early each Saturday morning and dedicate three hours to athletic and educational programs which support our basic mission of saving our youth.”

Senator William Larkin and his wife Pat

During the festivities, community members thanked the volunteers and staff for affecting positive change in the local community. There was a spontaneous, heartfelt, outpouring of appreciation from parents and children when Mr. Kaplan was introduced to the crowd.

The event also included a groundbreaking in the former garage at the Armory, now dedicated to classrooms, an activity center, community room, and a concession stand. Named the Bill & Pat Larkin Learning and Activity Center, in honor of Senator Larkin and his wife, is expected to open in 2015. Both the Senator and Mrs. Larkin, who spent 23 years as an educator in the Newburgh City school district, have been active in the renovation and promotion of the NAUC.  

US Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was also on hand for the anniversary celebration. “Having visited the Newburgh Armory frequently with my two little girls I have seen the impact it has on our children, families, and community – providing educational programs, classes, and activities for kids and adults is a critical step in getting Newburgh back on track. I look forward to continue working with Bill Kaplan and Senator Bill Larkin to strengthen our community and revitalize the City of Newburgh,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

According to NAUC Director James DelViscio, “Our programs are constantly growing and we are at capacity in our current space. Opening this Center will allow us to serve more of Newburgh’s youth through expansion of our literacy classes, new physical activity classes, and increased summer camp programming.”

NAUC has two primary areas of focus:  1) Education with programs for K-6th grade including reading, athletics, arts, and health and wellness, and 2) Pathways to Citizenship programs leading to naturalization including English as a Second Language, GED, computer usage, and preparation for citizenship.  

Headlining Photo: Founder William Kaplan at podium with Senator William Larkin and Pat Larkin and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney on the occasion of the groundbreaking for the Bill & Pat Larkin Learning and Activity Center at the Newburgh Armory.