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Mount Vernon Sounds Off On 'Lack Of Opportunity'

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Panelists expressed frustration with lack of opportunity in the Mount Vernon ranging from jobs to youth programs at a community forum held at the Doles Center Wednesday night.

Henry George Thomas, a Mount Vernon firefighter, said that when he was younger, there were more training programs in the city and school district, such as auto body and photography classes. Formerly a worker in the Department of Public Works (DPW), Thomas said hiring outside companies to do work the city can do is part of the problem.

“They used to send us out for training on wiring and fixing street lights,” Thomas said. “They don’t do that anymore. “Millions of dollars in tax money is going away because the city is contracting services outside of our community. The money belongs in Mount Vernon. I’d rather the city pay the money to send kids for training.”

Shawyn Patterson-Howard, executive director of the Yonkers YMCA, said youth programs are lacking in Mount Vernon, noting how Yonkers offers programs like the Police Athletic League, which Mount Vernon doesn’t have anymore. Patterson-Howard said one of the reasons for this is a lack of consistent space and said that a lot of youth get complacent when a program starts and ends suddenly.

“We need the city, the school district and the churches to come together for things such as vocational education training and creative arts programs,” Patterson-Howard said.

Mount Vernon resident Pete Monsanto teaches photography in White Plains because there isn’t an opportunity for him to teach the craft in his home city.

“We need to be more involved,” Monsanto said. “A lot of our youth don’t understand the concept of being an adult yet.”

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