YONKERS N.Y. - After years of working out of schools and churches in Yonkers, a group of young Hispanic artists have now found a place to call their home.
The real estate development firm Marathon Development Group has donated office space in the Jackson Terrace Apartments to the Dominican Cultural Association’s student art program. The program provides more than 60 children ages 6-15 with art classes and instruction.
Marathon, which specializes in the development and renovation of affordable multifamily properties, previously donated the adjacent office to CLUSTER Community Services, to provide local students with after-school homework assistance.
Marathon consciously tries to build a sense of community in the property it owns, said its president, Mark Soja.
"These kids didn't have a home base before this space, so I would say it's definitely going to make a difference," Soja said. "I was approached about the possibly of donating some space to the community organization, but when we checked this space out it literally had no floors and the walls needed restoration. We really worked hard to put everything together in two weeks for these kids."
Amber Jiminez, 9, was one of the many children at the celebration, and said she was beyond excited to have a new home.
“I really feel like this space is just so beautiful,” said Jiminez. “I don’t know why, but coming in here and seeing how everything was set up really made me feel like an artist. I’m happy to finally have our own space, it’s something we can all be proud of, and feel safe coming to. I just can’t wait to be back in here and really do what I love most.”
The space will make a giant difference in the community, said Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Wilson Terrero.
“I am thrilled that Marathon is donating a space that The Dominican Cultural Association of Yonkers can call home for their arts and crafts classes," Terrero said. "We're just so lucky with how generous Marathon is. These kids don't have to run around anymore; they now have a home. This is a gift, and we're here to make sure they're given the best education as possible here in the City of Yonkers."
It's because of acts of generosity like this that children have the opportunity to do great things, said Dominican Culture Association President Piedad Abreu.
"It really has been a journey for so many years for these kids," Abreu said. "We finally have a space for these kids, and it's going to really impact their lives. We're here to help guild lives in the right path and this new space will help do that. We're not only a Dominican group, but we're open to all Hispanics. We believe that anybody has the right to be a part of what we're doing, and we're doing great things."