Celebrating its 17th year, the Pine Hill Community Center is a unique gathering place for people in the Central Catskills. We are still living up to our mission of responding to community needs, "Celebrating what we have, responding to what we need, together." The Center offers an ever increasing roster of activities to an expanding community. From Delhi to Phoenicia, it is the only true Community Center in a 50 mile range.
The Pine Hill Community Center was founded in 2000 when a group of local residents, concerned about the lack of opportunities for young people, banded together to create a community space.
Florence and Bernie Hamling offered the use of the former Zircar Products building on Main Street. The Hamlings made a major contribution to the costs of renovation and fund raising effort in the community added more. The Center opened on December 2, 2000 with a pending application for non-profit status. Laurie Baratta, the Vice President of the Center and its defacto first Director, stated, "This is a community center. You can use this space for meetings or for gatherings. We want people to make it what they want it to be." This founding principle continues to this day.
Very quickly, the Center began offering workshops ranging from archery to watercolor classes to woodworking, with activities for everyone from toddlers to seniors. Open Mic nights and house concerts, seasonal parties, movies and nature walks proved popular.
In June of 2002, James Krueger became the Executive Director of the Center. A singer songwriter with a special interest in children's programming, James quickly added programming and expanded communications with the wider community.
James and Laurie Baratta, with the help of Eve Smith, secured a $9,000 grant to gather oral histories of local residents. The project, "I Remember When ... Children and Elders Explore Catskill Life and Lore," engaged a group of elementary school students from the Phoenicia school. The project culminated in a community potluck and presentation. A recording of the interviews was made and distributed as part of the project.
Music, Dancing, potluck dinners, arts classes of all kinds, and lectures ranging from wildlife topics to financial well-being continued throughout 2002. A new partnership with the Big Indian Native American Cultural Center brought native american lore, crafts, and gatherings to the Center.
In 2004, the Oral History Project continued, this time with adolescents from Margaretville and Onteora schools. The project included a bus tour of Rte. 28 in which elders shared their memories with the participating youth.
In 2005, the Catskill Community Radio streamed a variety of programs and was the original home of the now legendary Catskill Cabaradio, the Community Center's signature quarterly event.
In 2007, Ulster Savings Bank pledged $2,500 toward the purchase of computers for public use. Today, the public computer lab boasts 4 state of the art Apple computers donated to the Center by Techserve of New York City.
In July of 2009, Florence and Bernie Hamling, who had been leasing the building to the Center for $1 a year, donated the building to the Center. In July of 2009, the entire community celebrated the gift with a free dinner.
In August 2011, just before the flood caused by Hurricane Irene devastated the surrounding area, Ann Epner became the new Executive Director of the Community Center as James Krueger moved on to pursue other interests. Pine Hill did not lose electricity, cell phone service, or internet connectivity and so became an ark for residents needing services from the basic to the more essential.
In 2011 PHCC received a grant from Enerpath, through NYSG, to install energy efficient lighting. Additionally, new lightweight, stackable, and comfortable seating for events was funded by Ulster County Community Bank and by the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O'Connor Foundation.
The Center has also introduced a number of successful children's programs such as Kid Stuff that brought over 30 local artists, musicians, and naturalists to do workshops with local children; We are in our third summer of Kool Kamp for Kool Kids, a free day-camp offering games, arts & crafts, and outdoor fun for children ages 6-12; and Super Saturdays, afternoon fun for children and their families.
The Center freshened up their Arts and Crafts room with new display cases and furniture. A redesigned Thrift Shop, now full of carefully curated and sensibly priced items, are eagerly sought after. Both efforts have benefited from generous donations and from the continued hard work of dedicated volunteers.
Todd Spire was Executive Director in 2015. And in January of 2017 Moe Lemire assumed the role of Executive Director. As an avid hiker and outdoorsman Moe looks forward to bringing outdoor activities to the center and continue Pine Hill Community Center's growth. PHCC looks forward to bringing continued growth and opportunities to both the Center and the surrounding Catskill community.