Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Manhattanville Celebrates its Ten-Year Partnership with the Westhab Mentoring Project

WestHab: Building Communities. Changing Lives.For the past ten years, Manhattanville College's Duchesne Center has participated in a close partnership with the Westhab Mentoring Project. The focus of the partnership is for Manhattanville students to provide underprivileged youths with inspiration and educational enrichment through programs such as Boys to Men, Ladies Room, Mentoring Kids, Teenage Enrichment, SPEAK Improv, CAST KIDS, Helping Hands College Prep, and Guardian GED Prep.

Westhab, a housing and service provider for the homeless in Westchester County, works to break the "cycles of poverty and homelessness" by having Manhattanville students interact with the young people in their programs to convey to them that college matriculation is attainable, realistic and a worthy goal. While Manhattanville students develop a better understanding of the plights of others by exposure to the impact of extreme poverty, the youths from Westhab on the other hand are able to participate in programs through a supportive college setting that encourages them to strive to achieve higher education.

In his letter to the Manhattanville community, Richard Nightingale, vice president of Youth and Family Services for Westhab, states "An institution of higher learning has a responsibility to its students beyond the classroom, and Manhattanville truly embodies this, investing in building well rounded, community-minded individuals." One such individual is Gabriella C. Barnes, a student coordinator for Creative Expression Through Art. "This experience has really allowed me to take on a new role on campus and in the kids' lives," Barnes explains, reflecting on her involvement in the program. "I want to encourage and inspire them to create art and have a sense of pride about their artwork."

Carrying out the program's mission to provide the children of Westhab with enjoyable educational opportunities, Barnes exposed her young mentees to various artistic techniques. She also had them meet with Manhattanville's art professors, who further encouraged them to explore their creative processes. "The Gallery visit with Professor Randy Williams," an educational consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Neuburger Museum, who is an active visual artist and educator developing new ways to present the visual arts to children, "was not only educational, but inspirational to the kids. They asked if they could get their artwork hung up." Barnes said, describing how spending time with art professors elevated the children's pride in their own creations and increased their desire to showcase their accomplishments.