Searching for a good home

Spark is fundraising and hoping for a permanent location

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 7/21/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY — By the time you read this, Spark and its youth programs will have lost their present space.

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Searching for a good home

Spark is fundraising and hoping for a permanent location

Posted

SULLIVAN COUNTY — By the time you read this, Spark and its youth programs will have lost their present space.

Renting in Liberty, Spark, the umbrella organization that contains the Youth Empowerment program, Cociendo Culturas (sewing culture) and the Bags for Justice programs, has moved four times in 10 years; this will be the fifth.

As a solution, Spark is raising funds to buy a building rather than rent once again.

“It’s a permanent home for permanent change,” program coordinator Juanita Sarmiento said.

The program “is about nurturing leaders,” Sarmiento said. “It’s about finding ways to empower youth.”

Open to all school districts, the program currently has students from Liberty, Monticello, Fallsburg and Tri-Valley.

The pandemic caused some problems, but the groups kept going, meeting virtually and, during warmer weather, they got together outside, socially distanced and masked.

“We were actually pretty resilient. This year, we were empowered to feed the community.” During the season, they provided full holiday meals, she said.

Money has been raised toward the new space and $100,000 more is needed.

“This program here is very special and very unique,” Sarmiento said. “We are one of a kind.”

Spark is looking for a space that’s large enough for the youth programs and to include the sewing cooperative, which made masks during the pandemic. It would house the Bags for Justice, a youth-run cooperative that silk-screens designs onto bags and T-shirts that are produced “sweatshop-free,” as their website proudly says. The designs reflect issues that the group cares about, according to the Bags for Justice website. They then sell the shirts and bags.

A great bonus would be residential space for an intern, Sarmiento said.

Ideally, it would be “anywhere central,” perhaps in Liberty or Monticello.

The new space would let them keep building on their mission: “to provide the tools for youth’s future,” Sarmiento said. “It’s jobs, it’s financial literacy and so much more.”

Rural & Migrant Ministry, Spark’s parent organization, is a nonprofit that builds community in rural areas, getting past prejudice and poverty to fight for dignity and opportunity. 

For more information and to contribute to Spark, visit www.saveourspark.causevox.com.

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