Free 'kid stuff' at Pine Hill Community Center

By Pauline Liu
It’s been said that nothing in life is free. At the Pine Hill Community Center, there are free classes for children and professionals teach them. A class known as “Kid Stuff,” is offered every Saturday morning.

While it’s geared for kids ages 6-12, younger children accompanied by a parent will not be turned away. Each class covers something different. Upcoming classes include instruction on circus skills, face painting and weaving. They generally run from 10 a.m. to noon. 

The program draws many weekend residents and even visitors on vacation. Some parents see the program as a godsend. “It’s so isolated here sometimes,” said Marcy Brownstein, who has a weekend home in Phoenicia. “These things are really important, especially for weekenders.”
Her five-year-old son, Elias Sheldon, recently attended a class where he learned how to draw a self-portrait. His teacher was Andes painter Roshan Houshmand. She also teaches art at SUNY Delhi.
Walk-ins are welcome. There’s no need to sign-up ahead of time.

The program is the brainchild of the center’s executive director Ann Epner. She secured funding for the classes through a grant from the Ulster County Youth Bureau as well as “a private foundation that prefers to be anonymous.” When asked to elaborate, Epner would only reveal that the foundation has funded other programs at the center and is based in Ulster County.

The center marked its 10th anniversary earlier this year. According to Epner, it was launched for the primary purpose of providing programs for children. A combination of grants, donations, membership fees and volunteer support have kept the facility running. The center has about 300 members and about 50 volunteers. Epner was hired to run the center a year ago. “It’s awesome working here,” she said. “It’s the only real community center in what we called “Dulster,” which is Delaware and Ulster counties.”

Special gift
Recently, the center received a gift of $5,000 from part-time resident, Andrew Messinger.
“It was the result of his love of the Catskill Cabaradio program and because of his love of music,” said Epner. “He’d like more music.” Epner explained that the money will be spent on some much-needed sound equipment and to support an additional concert to be held later this year.

The next Catskill Cabaradio variety show will be held this Saturday, June 9 at 7 p.m. It will be preceded by a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. The event is supported by volunteers and includes one or two performances by children. “The quality of the kids of programs here is very high and that’s because people in the community are willing to give their time and talent to make that so,” said board member Jan Jaffe.

In late September, the center will launch another free kids program called, “Song Stage.” The eight-week-long workshop on singing and songwriting, will be taught by award winning, singer-songwriter Elly Wininger. New York State Council of the Arts funds it. Class size is limited. Parents are being ask to register their children early

While the children’s programs at the center are free, events for active seniors are supported by grants from the Community Foundation of Ulster County and the O’Connor Foundation. All active senior classes cost $1.50. The center will be adding T’ai Chi classes to its active seniors program. They’ll begin on Thursday, June 14 at 9 a.m. Gentle yoga and Zumba classes for seniors are already being offered every Friday morning. “There’s an aging component in all of these hamlets and serving the over 55 population is important too,” said Epner.

The Pine Hill Community Center is located at 287 Main Street in the hamlet. For more information, call 254-5469 or log onto pinehillcommunitycenter.org.