Greenwich Village Youth Council
The mission of the Greenwich Village Youth Council (GVYC) is to engage at-risk young people in activities, mentoring, and counseling in a warm and supportive community in order to help them avoid substance abuse, delinquency, and other risky behaviors.
History: Since 1969, GVYC has been empowering at-risk youth. In our 41 years, we have worked in every aspect of youth development, always focusing on meeting the needs of the children in our community, whatever that might take. We have established a reputation for being able to reach and engage the most at-risk, isolated, and disenfranchised young people and families in New York City. With a unique ability to structure free programs that youth enjoy, and with a strong history of service to all youth in need, GVYC has repeatedly stepped forward to serve those youth populations that other agencies would or could not reach or engage, each time filling crucial service voids.
Goals and Objectives: The overall goal of all of our programs is to help at-risk young people build healthy lives by supporting them to prevent substance abuse, delinquency, and other risky behaviors. The objectives that support that goal include: 1) connecting youth with supportive, nurturing adult role models; 2) engaging youth in productive activities in order to both keep them off the streets and to connect them with our other services and mentoring; 3) providing counseling, food, housing and other social services as needed to support youth where they are.
Our Roots: In 1969, John Pettinato was an 18-year-old college student and cardiology technician living in Greenwich Village. He saw the small pockets of youth gangs that had arisen throughout the Village disrupting education and controlling parks. So he stepped in. GVYC began in the gym at Our Lady of Pompeii on Bleecker Street, then as the program grew, expanded into several other sites, some still open today (e.g. the J.O.Y. Center). GVYC quickly became a successful sports and counseling-oriented agency. Over the years, GVYC took on new challenges as we saw needs arise.
Today GVYC runs six main programs offering comprehensive services to at-risk youth. We serve approximately 750 youth each year. Our program units include:
- The JOY Center, established 1986, a community center providing after-school and summer programs for children living in public housing on the Lower East Side, including individual and group counseling with licensed social workers, homework help, recreation, and free daily meals.
- The West Fourth Street Summer Basketball League, established 1975, serving 150-200 at-risk youth each summer at the famous “Cage” basketball courts in the West Village.
- The Greenwich Village Girls’ Basketball League, established 1994, which combines supportive volunteer coaching, a spirit of teamwork, mentorship opportunities, and strong community and parental support for 9-15 year old girls.
- After@ICE, established 1993, the after-school program at the Institute of Collaborative Education, a 6th-12th grade public school, offering counseling as well as academic, arts, athletic, and other enrichment.
- Essex Street Academy’s Out-of-School Time programming on the Lower East Side, established 2008, including Saturday and after-school enrichment and evening gang-prevention programming at this public high school.
- Family House, established 2010, a supportive housing option in Brooklyn for youth in crisis.
All our programs and services are free to youth. We also offer:
- On-site prevention counseling services for all our programs, with a concentration on substance use/abuse prevention for adolescents. All of our sites are OASAS certified substance abuse prevention sites.
- Crisis intervention services for the most vulnerable of our youth members, including intensive counseling; court and police station visits; hospital visits; and home visits.
- Free meals and snacks during after school and summer programs