Alumni Feature: Robin Webb
Working for the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB) was more than just a job for Robin Webb. It was the foundation for her professional career and the start of lifelong friendships. Robin says she was fortunate to have been hired as a Senior Account Clerk in 1983, working alongside Chris Wilbur and Carol Wilson to manage payroll and prepare financial statements for the IYB and Greater Ithaca Activities Center. During this time, the three of them formed a tight-knit team, quickly learning the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and customer service.
As part of the IYB, Robin worked to provide quality programs, often with limited resources and facilities. For example, when asbestos was found in the Old Tin Can building, she shared that they had to relocate to a temporary location in a strip mall. The YB was then housed in the City Hall Annex until the current building was completed in 1987. Despite challenges like this, they still continued to provide programs and services to residents.
The IYB was not just a place of work for her but also a place of learning. When Common Council decided to buy each department a computer, Robin was one of the few staff members who had any training in Computer Science, so she worked across departments to decide how to use the new equipment, which led her to discover how much she enjoyed Information Technology.
Robin also shares that her 16 years of working at the IYB gave her a unique perspective on customer service, which she carried with her for the next 21 years as part of the county and state government. The teamwork and collaboration required to provide quality programs at the IYB were addictive and became a cornerstone of her professional career, and she is thankful that her initial work with people started at the local level in Ithaca.
Today, 40 years later, she is still in touch with her former colleagues from the IYB and they often meet for lunch and to provide support to one another. The experience has taught her that building professional relationships is just as important as building professional skills.
For Robin, the IYB was more than just a place of work. It was a place of learning, growth, and lifelong friendships. Her time at the Youth Bureau has been invaluable in shaping her approach to teamwork, collaboration, and customer service.
Staff Spotlight: Caitlin Lawrence
We’re celebrating Youth Employment Service (YES) program leader Caitlin Lawrence as she celebrates her fourth year of working with area teens, helping them to navigate the world of work.
Since she was a teen, Caitlin has known she wanted to work with adolescents in a youth bureau or youth center setting; helping to plan a weekend-long teen event at her hometown youth bureau helped her realize this. She says, “It provided me with a much-needed sense of belonging and I recognized the lasting impact that a group like this can have on a young person. That was the first time I remember thinking, ‘I want to work at a youth bureau!’” Though she has held a variety of other jobs in the years that followed, ultimately she found her way back to her original goal of working at a youth bureau.
YES is impactful to its participants in many ways, but the biggest impact according to Caitlin is, “The relationship and one on one support provided by the YES Rep...I think many teens appreciate that kind of care and attention with a mentor.” Along with the dedicated support of YES staff, being part of the program also allows teens to gain real-life experiences and real-world knowledge through workshops, trainings, and summer jobs.
Caitlin and her co-workers continually ensure their program is as equitable and efficient as possible, while also providing teens with the support they need in their first work experience. Empowering participants and watching them flourish and grow into young adults is rewarding to her and gives her hope for the future. Although Caitlin is passionate about every aspect of the program, one of the things that gets her most excited is when a YESConnect teen gets hired for a job they applied for.
Her fellow staff members also make the job fun. Recently when one co-worker left for a new job, Caitlin shared how they gave her a proper send-off. “We gathered a few instruments, conjured our musical talents, and gave Charlene the performance she deserved on her last day of work! We sang and played to the tune of "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, even included some chilling harmonies.” Sounds like a proper send-off, indeed.
Cheers to Caitlin on her work anniversary! The Youth Bureau is grateful for her continual support of area teens and for helping them build a solid foundation for their future. Congratulations!
Alumni Feature: Daquan Rockett
Daquan Rockett (AKA Rockett) first got involved with the IYB in 2005, when he played basketball in the YB Rec Department’s youth basketball league. Soon after, he enrolled in the College Discovery Program (CDP) which he remained a part of until he graduated high school. CDP participants are able to take part in a number of different components while in the program which range from mentoring and family dinners to campus visits and a 3-week summer program. As a participant, Rockett’s favorite memories are from his first summer trip with the program.
Fast forward to 2019 when he began working with another YB department, the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program (PSMP), as a seasonal employee until he once again joined CDP as a full-time staff member in June of 2021.
When asked about his time with the Ithaca Youth Bureau Rockett credits the organization for shaping him into the man he is today. Through his experiences, he learned how to approach things with an open mind and to be non-judgmental. He emphasizes the importance of treating everybody with respect and doing the right thing, as many positives can come from it.
As he transitioned from a participant to a staff member, he gained a new perspective that created an appreciation for the job and helped him to realize the patience that is sometimes needed in working with different personalities of the youth in the program.
Being a part of the Youth Bureau has created friends and connections that he will have for the rest of his life. Above all, he wants people to know that the Ithaca Youth Bureau is about inclusivity and that all kids have the opportunity to be a part of this organization.
**photos courtesy of Daquan Rockett
Alumni Feature: Karen Friedeborn
For over three decades, Karen Friedeborn worked tirelessly at the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB) to serve and empower the youth of Ithaca. Her journey with IYB began in 1981 when she started working with Youth Employment Service through a federal jobs program called CETA. Over the years, she held various roles at IYB and created programs that had a significant impact on the community.
As a Special Projects and Events Coordinator, Friedeborn created new programs and helped bring them to an underserved population. She was also an administrator, serving as the Youth Development Division Coordinator. Friedeborn's children were also involved in many IYB programs, from Kiwanis Baseball to Expressive Arts to summer day camps.
One of Friedeborn's favorite memories of her time at IYB was starting new programs and securing funding for them. She brought in over $1 million in grant funding and was instrumental in creating several programs, including the Youth Employment Service Municipal Jobs Program, Café Cayuga, Youth Council, and the Urban Rural Adventure Program, among others. Friedeborn was also involved in addressing racial tensions in the community, including leading weekend retreats with diverse groups of teens to promote cross-cultural understanding and address racism.
Friedeborn's experience at IYB impacted her life significantly. She worked at the YB for 34 years until her retirement in 2015, and she loved every minute of it. She appreciated the flexibility of her role and the ability to work towards social justice in every role she held. Additionally, Friedeborn was able to balance work and family life when her children were young, which was a significant benefit of working at IYB.
Reflecting on her time at IYB, Friedeborn recalled one person who stood out in making her time at the YB memorable: Sam Cohen. “Sam Cohen was Youth Development Coordinator in the first part of my career and then IYB Director for many years,” Karen says. “He really helped me understand and develop my strengths and inspired me as a boss.”
Overall, Friedeborn believes that people should know about the great diversity of programming at IYB and the diversity of children served. She attests that there is something for everyone, and the impact of IYB on the community is immeasurable.
Alumni Feature: Mary Grainger
Mary Grainger and her family have been an integral part of the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB) community for many years. As parents of three girls who participated in various IYB programs, Mary and her spouse quickly learned the importance of volunteers in creating positive experiences for youth sports. Over time, Mary's involvement with the IYB grew as she became more invested in the organization's mission.
As the Friends of the IYB was being established, Mary became involved in helping with the organizational steps such as naming the nonprofit, developing a logo, and starting social media accounts. She has worked tirelessly to increase public awareness of the FIYB mission and how they can financially assist IYB programs and facilities. When FIYB was asked to help IYB raise awareness and funds to enclose the Cass arena, Mary became the campaign coordinator.
The "Enclose Cass" campaign was successful, and Mary played a significant role in achieving its goal. As the campaign coordinator, Mary worked with other volunteers to organize events and create graphics to promote the cause. She became known as the "Cass Campaign," and her efforts were vital in making the dream of enclosing the Cass arena a reality.
Mary's experience with the IYB has been fulfilling. She shares her experience in project management, fundraising, and community outreach gained through her involvement with other local organizations, As a municipal representative on the Tompkins County Youth Services Board in the 1980s, Mary learned about the central role IYB plays in delivering recreation programs and camps for residents of adjacent communities as well as Ithaca.
In reflecting on her time with the IYB, Mary fondly remembers working alongside the other FIYB board members to achieve their goals. She credits the organization's success to the hard work and dedication of its volunteers.
For those who are unfamiliar with the IYB, Mary believes it's essential to know the positive impact the organization has on the community. From providing after-school programs to sports and summer camps, the IYB is committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment for youth in the area.
Mary's time with the IYB has left a lasting impression on her and the community. With the "Enclose Cass" campaign complete, she is eager to see what the future holds and how she can continue to make a positive impact on the Ithaca community.
As 2022 slips away, I want to extend my gratitude to everyone who connected with us in some way this year. This issue of Happenings will give you a glimpse of the many programs and opportunities we offered youth and families over the year. I am proud of our staff and programs, and the role they play in making lives better.
In 2023, the Youth Bureau turns 75 and Cass Park Pool turns 50! We can’t wait to celebrate with you. We are excitedly planning for 2023 and look forward to creating new memories, meeting challenges, developing friendships, experiencing accomplishments, and welcoming new learning.
I hope you all stay warm this season as you welcome in the New Year!
~ Liz Klohmann, IYB Director
College Discovery Program
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca and Tompkins County
Paul Schreurs Memorial Program
The Outings Program
Ithaca Bike Rental
Recreation Support Services
Youth Employment Service
IYB bids farwell…
Nancy Bower our long-term Fiscal Manager retired at the end of last year and came in on a part-time basis throughout 2022 to train our new office manager. After nine months, she is officially fully retired from the Youth Bureau. We thank her for all her service to us and for her work to make sure we are well prepared to move forward. We hope you enjoy retirement Nancy!
Jake Buschman began working as our office manager in January and worked through some very busy claiming and budget seasons here at the Youth Bureau. He has the opportunity to return to school to study environmental conservation. We wish you the best as you follow a new direction, Jake.
Charlene Santos has worked in Youth Employment Service for many years. During her time at the YB, she has been part of the Diversity Committee and been a strong advocate for participants and families. While Charlene will be missed, she is transitioning to GIAC where she will be the Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP) Coordinator. We look forward to finding ways to collaborate with her in the future and know that HETP is in very capable hands. Good luck in your new role, Charlene!
The Youth Bureau is proud to welcome two new members to our team!
Blake Cute is proud and excited to join the Ithaca Youth Bureau Team as a recreation program specialist at Cass Park. He was introduced to recreation growing up in Cortland, NY where he played soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. His formal introduction to the world of parks and recreation came at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he studied commercial recreation management, co-founded my school’s club ice hockey team, and was a member of the Discover Outdoor Center Team and Leadership staff. While completing his master’s degree at SUNY Cortland, he spent two summers as a guide for Alaska Alpine Adventures. After seven years working as structural and wildland firefighter and EMT, he knew it was time to get back to his true passion: recreation. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking and appreciating the amazing Finger Lakes region.
Anthony Maggio is excited to dive into his new role of recreation program specialist after his summer directing the Cass Park Summer Camp. He holds a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from SUNY Cortland. He previously worked with various companies and parks settings in Colorado and Oregon. Some of his roles included programming and running swimming and skiing lessons and teams, juggling, coordinating book clubs, cooking, role-playing to build social skills, and much more. Anthony has always found joy in working with children and being part of their growth and development. His work experience has taught him to wear many hats and embrace diversity and inclusion. Anthony was born and raised in upstate New York, and is excited to return to the region with his wife and young son.
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
This quote seems fitting as we move from an uplifting and invigorating summer that was full of adventure, growth, fun, and learning experiences into our fall and winter seasons! The fall is a time for us to reconnect with and support our students as they head back to school, bring out the soccer balls and footballs, recruit new volunteers and participants for programs, and visit our regions favorite fall spots with our various programs.
We look forward to skating and celebrating the 50th year of Cass Park Rink along with the newly completed Rink Enclosure Project. We are excited to see old faces and meet new ones as our fall programs get off the ground. We continue our commitment to developing programming in a new creative way that invites all people in our community to learn, explore and experience; that ensures safety; that challenges us all to expand our knowledge around race, equity and inclusion; and that fosters the health and wellness of everyone. We hope to see you during the last few months of the year on the ice, in a program, or on a field.
Staff Spotlight: Liz Klohmann
Last month, Director Liz Klohmann celebrated her 23rd anniversary with the Ithaca Youth Bureau! Her time with the YB started long before this, however, in 1983 as a Fieldwork student from Ithaca College working with Therapeutic Recreation (now known as Recreation Support Services). She has worked with many other organizations in the community and in her time at the Youth Bureau, she has held many different titles, with her most current being Director, a position she has had since 2013.
Throughout Liz’s time here, the Youth Bureau has changed in many ways. The original building was nicknamed the Tin Can and was a former Naval Reserve Training Center. In 1986 it was torn down and replaced with a new Youth Bureau building. Programming has also changed and evolved in order to continuously provide support and services to the Ithaca community. “You will see this pattern of changing to meet needs and be a relevant resource to youth, families, and other organizations in just about every program offered at the Youth Bureau” states Liz. One thing that hasn’t changed in her time here, however, is “the creative, resourceful, and caring staff. We have had new faces join our team over the years as others have retired or moved onto other opportunities but the care and commitment to young people and the community that staff bring has stayed constant.”
When asked about a memorable experience, Liz shared this, “One of my favorite stories is when Kim Olsen, our Outings Program Coordinator came to my office door late one afternoon after a program and said, ‘Liz! I have to tell someone, I just taught my first person ever how to ride a bike! She is a 5th grader who has never ridden a bike and I just taught her how and she is so excited and so am I! I just had to tell someone!’ This is just one of many shared successes that I hear about at the YB.”
Liz is passionate about the Youth Bureau and hopes others are too because “we play a vital role in the health and wellness of the community and the development of our children.” The YB’s tagline of Building a Foundation for a Lifetime sums up the missions and variety of programs perfectly. “Youth Programming offers children and youth opportunities to learn new skills, develop relationships with others, experience success and failure, be nurtured, go places and see things they may not have had the opportunity to, learn about themselves, the world and others.”
When a few YB staff members were asked what they enjoyed about working with Liz, they said:
“One thing I appreciate about Liz is how calmly she listens and responds, even when the situation does not feel calm at all!” – Ever Stokes, Youth Employment Service
“I wanted to say thank you in this regarding Liz (with the rest of the administration, Suki & Jim) for their resilience through COVID and our IYB shutdown; in keeping the ship afloat and now we are back up and running full steam ahead.” – Kristin Letourneau, Recreation Support Services
“I was actually a student in the very first class at college that Liz taught and so I knew her walking into my interview and we have been working together for more than 20 years since…She has been a long-time mentor for me and the Recreation Department.” – Yolanda Marion, Recreation Department
Congratulations and thank you, Liz, for your many years of service to the children and families of Ithaca and Tompkins County. Here’s to many more years of shared successes at the YB!