By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
An organization that grew from the deaths of two teenage boys last year has revamped its mission statement as it evolves into something more.
"We all came together last year in response to the murders and at that time our initial purpose was to prevent violence," Mayor Ann Thane said about the killings of Paul Damphier, 16, and Jonathan Dejesus, 13, last July. "In that year, so much has happened that is positive and our purpose has changed."
ACT, which is comprised of members of agencies like Centro Civico, the Amsterdam Police Department, Neighborhood Watch, the Greater Amsterdam School District and W1SHFUL:TH1NK1NG, gathered last week to update its mission and vision.
"Now, our mission is: To nurture and support the youth of the Greater Amsterdam area by advocating for equal access to resources and opportunities," she said.
Thane said this statement describes the group's goal now that it has morphed from "a very tremendously difficult tragedy."
"We've had the founding of the Bacon center and the summer program," Thane said, "the swimming program and the art center, the community garden. It's just so amazing to see that this is working. It's so incredible,"
The group also changed the vision it has for the Amsterdam community: A safe and vibrant community where all youth become positive contributing citizens.
"What we're seeing also from the kids is that they're engaged and they care these things," Thane said. "Some kids are mentoring younger kids which is incredible. Those are kids that W1SHFUL:TH1NK1NG has mentored, maybe middle school or high school, they're mentoring younger kids. I see that down at the art center."
Thane said ACT will meet near the end of August to discuss how to keep its productivity high.
"Now we'll work on what action steps we'll take to continue to engage young people and bring more people into the loop," Thane said. "And then also to raise the resources that we need through fundraising and grants to ensure that we have the equipment and staffing in place to do what we need to do."
Thane said she's excited to see that a connection between the city and the school district exists.
"It's so positive," Thane said. "This is the first time in a long time that time that the school district and the city are working together. We've never had a partnership like we have had over the past year. We're going to be deepening that. It's beneficial for all the residents."