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New Haven community center gets $550K grant to help reopen after 20 years

While the reopening has been two years in the making, the $550K grant in aid for the center will help children and seniors access resources and programs of all ages.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — New Haven city and community leaders united and celebrated a $550,000 grant to help a New Haven community center, once known as "The Shack," reopen after more than 20-years. 

"Every neighborhood deserves a safe community place where kids can gather where the community can gather," said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. 

This is why Honda Smith, a New Haven Alder, said reopening the center was vital. While it's in the exact location and has the same mission, there is a new name. 

"The name for the building is 333 Valley Street: An Intergenerational Organization," said Smith. 

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While the reopening has been two years in the making, the $550K grant in aid for the center will help children and seniors access resources and programs from ages 12 to 102.

"Well, the oldest person in the neighborhood is 102," said Smith. " And we're dealing with kids who are 12-years-old because it's the crucial age of where the kids are getting in trouble. And that I found out that there's a lot of 12-year-olds and above that are failing in school, so we want to reach them at the critical age."

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Carolyn Kinder, the center's Executive Director, has lived in the area for 45 years and said she's eager to see this center turn her neighborhood into a community. 

"This is big because it's a way of getting people together to learn and to learn to appreciate one another and to trust and care for one another," passionately explained Kinder. 

While teens like Nashalie Nivies never experienced The Shack in its prime, she's excited for what this means moving for the community moving forward. 

"This is important because it allows kids to engage in like, everything that's going around everywhere," explained Nivies. 

Nivies had a role in painting the center's game room, and she said leaving her mark while others make their mark on the community through the center is a great feeling.

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333 Valley Street: An Intergenerational Organization has some programs and activities available to the public for gaming and community meetings at limited capacity. With tutoring and homework programs scheduled to begin in January and February.

You must present your vaccination card and receive a temperature check before entering the center. 

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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