By SANDY LONG
BARRYVILLE, NY — Sometimes the perfect partnerships come together like pieces of a puzzle falling neatly into place, solving a problem while uniting people in a common goal.
That’s just what happened at New Hope Manor (NHM), an all-female residential substance abuse treatment community in Barryville that is one of very few such facilities that also accommodate residents’ infants and young children, allowing mother and child to remain together.
The problem was that the facility lacked a playground for the children, who played instead on tennis courts outside the main building. NHM mother/infant coordinator Julissa Quezada felt that something should be done. “As childcare providers, there was a need to offer outdoor programs in an appropriate setting for the children,” said Quezada. “It was something we needed to do, but didn’t have the resources for.”
Quezada sought grants and other funding without success, but didn’t give up. She discussed the situation with NHM childcare provider Bonnie Watts, who suggested contacting Matt Donnelly, a local Boy Scout looking for an Eagle Scout project. Donnelly readily accepted, and coordinated various aspects of the project, such as site preparation. Fellow scouts from Troop 102 in Glen Spey provided labor along with scout master Brian Worzel and scout leader Rich Watts, Bonnie’s husband.
Other community volunteers and local businesses lent their support as well. Friends of New Hope Manor got involved by donating the white picket fence that surrounds the playground.
Additional funds were needed for the two tons of eco-friendly mulch that provides a safe surface for the children, and items such as the sandbox, slide and swing set.
For this, Watts reached out to the members and pastor of her church, the Barryville United Methodist Church, where some of the NHM residents bring their children when attending services there. The women participate by doing readings, and church members have embraced them into the community. “They love the girls and they love the babies,” said Watts.
The generous response was astounding, with approximately $2,400 given in support of the playground.
“There was such an outpouring of people willing to give, whether it was money, time, materials or labor,” said Watts. “We’re a giving church. If there’s a need and we know about it, we take care of it.” In gratitude, the women organized the dedication ceremony for the new playground.
The entire effort is testimony to what can be achieved when a gift of the heart is actualized through the efforts of a community working together.
“To see the children expanding their skills and abilities—no amount of money can buy that sense of satisfaction,” said Quezada. “This has been a hope and a dream come true,” added Watts.
Since its founding in 1970, NHM has served approximately 3,000 women age 14 and up, along with many of their children. Its graduates include university deans, medical doctors, attorneys and more. Visit www.newhopemanor.org  for more information or call 845/557-8353.
[Every once in a while you hear a story about someone who gave or received a life-changing gift during the year-end holiday season. The River Reporter is looking for an individual with just such a heart-warming personal story to share. We are calling this feature “A Gift from the Heart,” and we want to tell several of these stories in our newspaper during December. If you are someone with such a story to share or know someone, kindly contact email@example.com  or call 845/252/7414 ext. 29. Join us in celebrating the joy of the season with our readers.]