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.
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
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.
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!
Big congratulations are in order for Kristin Letourneau, Recreation Support Services (RSS) staff member, as she celebrates her 31st year at the Youth Bureau, with 28 of those years being a rostered employee. Kristin started at the YB as an intern with RSS while she was a junior at Ithaca College studying therapeutic recreation. Her journey of supporting and serving others started before that, however, when she worked as a nurse's aide in senior living facilities and home care during her high school and college summers.
There are many reasons why Kristin enjoys working with RSS Program Participants. Being a witness to the connections that they make with one another, the life skills that they learn, and just having fun together are all very rewarding to her. Kristin says, “being a civil servant of the City of Ithaca and a local community member, my job serving people in our community and also living side-by-side with them feels very meaningful to me.”
When asked about a favorite memory, it was hard for her to pick just one, however, the one that jumped out is special to her, not only because of what the RSS participant achieved that day at the Cayuga Nature Center’s Jacob's Ladder, but also because she learned something about herself, too. “Long story short…I was correct that I would physically struggle doing this challenge myself. What I didn't realize was how strong physically and mentally [the RSS participant] was and that she was going to take charge and assist me more than I assisted her to climb four of the five rungs of this giant ladder TOGETHER!!! I learned a really important lesson that day…do not make assumptions about other people and their ability to do anything. Also, remember we are stronger together than we are alone.”
The RSS Program is a unique one for a variety of reasons. Because it offers lifelong programming for adults and children with special needs, participants are able to grow up together, go to school together, and, as adults, reconnect with one another despite living in various parts of Ithaca and Tompkins County. “It’s a very emotionally moving moment when a ‘new adult participant’ to our program attends an adult program for the first time and sees a long-lost school friend”, states Kristin. “Our participants are amazing human beings. They are honest, empathetic, sincere, and fun individuals. They are also community members just like everyone else and deserve the same opportunities for connection, belonging, and living their best life.”
We completely agree, Kristin. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the Ithaca community and to the participants of the Recreation Support Services program!
This May, we’re celebrating the work anniversary of Tito, a beloved member of the IYB Recreation Department. Tito has been an employee for eight years, however, he has been part of the YB for much longer, as he was a volunteer before that. Tito enjoys working with the Recreation Department as a program specialist because “It's important to have kids socializing, playing, and having fun. These are tough times, and the kids need to have that space to be kids.”
Tito initially started working with kids and IYB Rec in 2003, when he coached his cousin’s kindergarten soccer team. He continued his volunteer work and when the opportunity became available, he became a staff member because “I get a unique perspective seeing the kids grow up in the community. I see kids that started in a Pre-K program with me in the newspapers for local high school sports. That’s rewarding!”
The uniqueness of Rec Dept programming is another reason Tito enjoys being a part of it all. “We try to make every program accessible to all the kids in the area by keeping costs low and working with parent and college volunteers. Sports are a great unifier. This is a place where we come together for the enjoyment of sport and comradery” and states that the “experience of playing with kids from all walks of life” has a big impact on participants.
While Tito has many great memories of his time working at the YB and noted that it is hard to pick just one, he stated, “An experience that I get reminded of often is when our little league baseball players got to take the field at Auburn and Binghamton stadiums to throw out the 1st pitch. The joy it brought the kids and families is why we do what we do.”
The Youth Bureau is happy to celebrate Tito and is grateful for the work has done, the lessons and skills he has taught, and the fun he has had with countless children in the Ithaca area. Congratulations, Tito!
This March, we are celebrating Ever’s 11th year of work at the Ithaca Youth Bureau. Ever started out with Youth Employment Service as a seasonal YES Rep in the summer of 2011 before moving into a full-time role. They have now been the coordinator of the YES program since 2015.
Ever has known they wanted to work with teenagers for most of their life, though they started out on a more traditional education route. Ever attended Ithaca College studying Music Education and realized at graduation that a different approach to helping and teaching teens was more their style. “I sort of stumbled into my work with YES, but it was the perfect fit,” they said.
“If the YES Program didn’t exist, teens would still get jobs. But which teens? And what jobs?” Ever says.
“The YES Program provides a really unique experience that seeks to make the job search process less competitive, more equitable, and also connects teens with a much wider diversity of work opportunities than they would have on their own. As adults, we spend most of our working lives trying to fit ourselves into the mold of a position’s qualifications— YES is one of the rare times where a group of people try to mold a job around a teen’s strengths, skills, and needs.
Through the YES Program, Ever has been able to really harness their passion for teaching and learning with the needs and learning styles of teens. “I love working with teenagers. They are eager and motivated to learn about it in a way they might not be about school. And since they are always at the beginning of their working journey, I feel like we have real, valuable information and guidance to give them.” The impact of the YES Program and Ever and their team can be felt across the community. Youth Employment Service has been a part of the Ithaca community for over 50 years and Ever says after 10 years working with the program, it’s hard to go anywhere without bumping into a current or former YES Teen.
“My favorite moments are always the ones where I see a former YES teen thriving in their adult life,” Ever says. “Recently we had an alumni of our leadership program, Youth Council Ambassadors, speak to the current members of the group as an adult guest. Seeing him being able to offer his wisdom to the next generation of youth leaders was incredibly inspiring.”
The Youth Bureau is happy to celebrate 11 years with Ever and is grateful for the work that they have done to help teens in the greater Ithaca community.