From Vic: a visit to The Door!
Vic and Jadrien ready for their tour!
In April, I got the chance to visit The Door, our member organization in New York City. The Door has been a PYTA member for many years, offering a variety of programs to New York City youth! I had met Jadrien, Assistant Director of Arts Programming, on accident when we both attended the National Guild for Community Arts Education Conference in November 2017, so I was excited to be able to make another connection. A lot of the PYTA member relations are remote, often only getting to connect in person once a year at the PYTA Conference. Since New York is so close to the main PYTA Office in Boston, New York seemed to be a viable, valuable opportunity to connect in person.
I took an Uber from my hotel to 555 Broome Street. The building is on a corner near a Lebanese restaurant, a deli, a pizza shop and a couple of other places. Inside, the wall of the building reads “Broome Street Academy”, the name of the charter school that operates in the same building. There is a check in desk, so I told them I'm there to see Jadrien, and they buzzed me in to wait on the bench. I got there early, so I sat in the waiting area with 15 or so young folks who were also waiting for 2:00pm. The Door’s programming structure means that the schooling/internship work happens in the morning, and then opens up into an afternoon recreation time at 2 o-clock. Here’s an example of their daily schedule. At 2pm, the sound of transition fills the halls and door ways. Jadrien emerged from a small group of people and invited me into the building! The moment I’d been waiting for! The next two hours were absolutely FULL.
The floor we’re on is wide open, with doors to various rooms lining the walls. There is a staircase in the middle of the room that leads down one level. I’ll share more about that in a bit. Jadrien starts by telling me about all of the programming and schedule of the main floor (THERE ARE 5 FLOORS). I learn about the morning schooling, the “free time”, the lunch/snack time, lunch time, the time frames where there’s various activities available, and the homeless youth space. Jadrien tells me that every young person utilizing their services is a registered member. Each person meets with a counselor to get to know them better, gives them a tour of the place, and orientation of space agreements. They get a card that allows them access to the space.
We go down the staircase to check out the health center. Fully functioning physical clinic, health care, testing, etc. It’s one of the older foundational elements of The Door.
We get back up to the main floor, and then take a staircase up to floor 2. (Or maybe it’s 3?) We’re about an hour in and Jadrien shares all of the art rooms with me! We check out the recording studio where the music program happens. The Door is a part of another alliance called MYDA, and they work to create music projects with other youth around the country! I also get to see the visual art room, and a sneak peek at the performance room. They were doing yoga in there, so we couldn’t go in. This floor also hosts the cafeteria. Jadrien told me they ALSO have a culinary arts program, and those students cook the meals for the space! We stop in the hallway (decorated with youth art) to say hello to Anthony, another Door employee, which was nice, seeing as how although we also met at the Guild Conference, Anthony was a name behind an email!
Jadrien continues, telling me a little more about their theater arts program, which isn’t queer-only, but a group of theater practitioners called The Drama Club hold workshops consistently, and it’s going great. We curve around the hall, and there are college counseling rooms, classrooms and computer rooms, all in conjunction with the charter school. Finally, two hours later, he shares that there are other floors, including the charter school administration, and mental health offerings. We end in his office, where we get to chat more about The Door and PYTA. (Which, by the way, Jadrien is very popular and busy – folks coming in and out of his office every 10 minutes!) Ultimately, the visit helped us clarify The Door’s membership in PYTA, the upcoming conference, and just generally get to talk face to face about the work they’re doing.
This visit helped me understand more of The Door’s place in youth services, New York, and PYTA! I’m hoping that other member visits are on the horizon because they truly support the connections, and wonderful people who are a part of PYTA (or adjacent!) Thanks to Jadrien, The Door and the folks who were around and allowed me in their space!
Until next time,
Find out more about The Door on their website
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