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“Our Program is a Family”: Joe Impeduglia on HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services McKinley Beacon After-School Program

September 30, 2016

Community, Families, In The Media, Youth

Each year, HeartShare’s leadership selects dedicated employees to participate in its Management Training Program (MTP). MTP is for both new and seasoned professionals who lead teams at the agency. This is a series highlighting those people–to acknowledge their personal accomplishments and to share the breadth of what HeartShare and its Family of Services does in the community every day.

This is great! I can’t wait to do this feature on you.

Joe Impeduglia: Please don’t! Throughout the years, my colleagues have tried to nominate me as an Outstanding Employee and I’ve told them not to.

Well, you do a lot for our children and you’re not getting out of this.

joeheadshot2-1JI: Fine! Okay, I did about 25 years of government service before I came to HeartShare, now HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services. About 20 years ago, I was an Activities Specialist at P.S. 329 in Coney Island. Then, our after-school program moved to P.S. 288, where I became an Activities Supervisor. Six months later, I was designated as the Assistant Director at the McKinley Beacon Program. I’ve been Director for 9 years now.

That’s a long time! What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at the program?

JI: Well, it’s the diversity of the kids who attend and luckily, our staff to reflects the diversity of the neighborhood to create that trust and mutual understanding. You see, our kids are smart, so they can translate select information to their parents about report cards and things of that nature. Also, the focus of after-school programs have changed. Two decades ago, the programs focused on athletics and art. Today, that’s still a component, but the focus is educational. There’s also a lot more on health and wellness. It’s all about adapting our program to what our kids need and what our community needs.

What’s been new at the program then?

JI: Building on that translation concept, we’re opening up computer classes to parents, which will teach basic skills, like Excel. We also recently applied through DYCD to have our kids create their own comic books and possibly have them published. We also hope to bring the Rangers back to McKinley Beacon.

Are there any other initiatives you’ve launched recently?

JI: My team and I are creating something called “Teen Lounge,” which means that after our older kids have finished their homework and participated in structured activities, they’re free to spend 40 minutes to do whatever they wish–talk, text and spend time with their peers.

Why did you create that?

JI: I think it reflects how we treat our children overall. We are here to help and to nurture, but we’re not going to tell our kids what to do. Like parents, we show them the doors they have to choose from and the consequences of each. It’s their choice to do the right thing. It’s offering both guidance and independence.

See 5:37 for segment on McKinley Beacon Program.

HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services has several Beacon and Cornerstone programs offering after-school, evening and summer programming for kids and the community. What makes McKinley Beacon special?

JI: Like my former boss, Roger Mazolla, I am transparent with my team. I’m also constantly learning from my Assistant Director Sarah Lanza, who really bridges the generation gap between the kids and I. Our Beacon program is like a family. I’m the dad, the uncle, whoever the kids want me to be! And everybody eats!

I know! You’re always trying to give us pizza when we visit!

JI: But seriously, they’re my family. Including the 1,000 to 1,200 kids we serve. Being a part of that community is very special.

Thank you, Joe Impeduglia and the McKinley Beacon team, for offering a family-oriented, educational space to the children and youth of our Brooklyn community.