One day my father and a few friends were sitting at the bar at a Manhattan restaurant they would frequent for lunch. The topic of conversation came around to all the things that were wrong with the world. Everyone had their own complaint to add to the exchange. After a while, one of my fathers friends, an Italian waiter who wasn’t part of, but happened to be listening to the conversation, decided to contribute his own observation, “Non è il mondo, è le gente.” (It’s not the world, it’s the people.) Considering that few other professions allow you to observe people more closely than waiting and bartending, they all quickly agreed. The world is fine, the problem is with the people in it.

Okay, you’re asking where I am going with this. What does this have to do with the The Yorktown Teen Center? Well, if you want to see how the actions of a few individuals can affect a little corner of the world, you’ll want to view this story.

I consider myself an optimist. Sure, we all have our problems, and there are plenty of evil, rude and selfish people crawling around, but I believe the world is in as good a shape as it has ever been in and that most of the people out there have good hearts and intentions. Unfortunately, the bad news and jackasses seem to get all the press.

When I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for a subject to cover for my next Westchester Project video, he immediately told me of the good work done by his friend, Yorktown resident Helena Rodriguez.

For years The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester operated the Yorktown Teen Center. It provided a vital service to the community, giving the working parents of Yorktown a safe place to send their kids for the few hours between school dismissal and the time the parents got home from work. In early 2009, due to extreme budget cuts, The Boys & Girls Club was forced to close their satellite units in Yorktown and Tarrytown. Fortunately for Yorktown, Helena Rodriguez recognized that losing the Teen Center was not an option. Although her children are both of college age, and the closing of the Teen Center had no impact on her personally, Helena took on the challenge of keeping the Yorktown Teen Center open. It became her “mission”.

I envisioned a short video with Helena as the interview subject and a little b-roll of the Teen Center cut in around her. It wasn’t until I drove up to Yorktown to meet with Helena that I realized there was so much more. I found that one of Helena’s many great qualities is her ability to draw from the unique talents and passions of the people around her. I interviewed board members, supporters and volunteers. Each one has made a significant contribution to furthering the successful rebirth of the Yorktown Teen Center. Each one stated that they have gained as much as they have given from the experience of working with the Teen Center and with Helena.

For now my optimism has been bolstered. It’s not the world, it’s the people.

I hope you have time to visit the websites listed below to learn a little more about some of the people interviewed for this story.

Yorktown Teen Center

The Justin Veatch Fund

The Harrison Apar Field of Dreams Foundation

Esteban Rivera



  1. Barbara Cutri on Tuesday 19, 2010

    BRAVO.

    Great Job to the Volunteers, parents and Yorktown Teens.

  2. Sal Lagonia on Tuesday 19, 2010

    Fantastic – Great work!

  3. The Melillo Brothers on Tuesday 19, 2010

    Enjoyed playing at First Fridays last week! We look forward to playing again and letting more people know about what’s happening with The Teen Center & Veatch Fund! A really good job by all for a really good cause! Thanks for having us! =)


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