Riverdale Neighborhood House (RNH) and Riverdale Community Center (RCC) are community-based organizations in Riverdale that joined forces in 2018 in order to better serve communities from Marble Hill to the Yonkers border. Our mission is to listen to the needs of the Riverdale community and develop educational, recreational, and community programs and services that will help our diverse community members thrive at every stage of life.
Riverdale Neighborhood House was originally established in 1872, by Grace Dodge, a philanthropist and education advocate, to serve as a lending library for neighborhood workers. RNH evolved to become a settlement house, part of the settlement house movement that aspired to bridge gaps in struggling urban neighborhoods. Today there are 40 settlement houses throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. Over the years, RNH helped launch a number of important institutions: The Riverdale Press, Riverdale Senior Services, and the local branch of the New York Public Library. We continue to provide a welcoming place for community members of all ages to participate in services and activities that help build a stronger, healthier community.
Since our founding in 1872, Riverdale Neighborhood House has united and augmented our community’s strengths toward a greater social good:
1872: Grace Dodge launches RNH as a lending library for neighborhood workers.
1890’s: Spanish-American War: RNH serves as headquarters for the Relief Society of Soldiers & Sailors at the Front.
1910’s: World War I: RNH coordinates the community’s war effort, houses Red Cross Civilian Relief Committee, undertakes food cooperative, pays hospital bills for soldiers’ families, and establishes War Gardens on donated land.
1930’s: RNH Board of Directors acquires our present site.
1940’s: WWII: RNH supports Victory Gardens and training in emergency nursing, home repair and food canning.
1950’s: Newly-founded Riverdale Press covers RNH news and activities. Swimming pool opens for the community.
1960’s: RNH provides first floor to kindergarten classes to relieve overcrowding at P.S. 81.
1970’s: RNH responds to changing needs of community with Day Care facilities for working families, Telephone Reassurance and Senior Companion programs, and Family Center for new parents and young families.
1980’s: Job Bank and counseling for teens helps in the war on drugs and combats chronic unemployment. Dodge Center for Community Services opens.
1990’s: Teen-Senior Bridge project provides wages to hard-to-employ youth while assisting homebound elderly. Family Center adds Lamaze, Family Safety and CPR courses.
2000’s: Accredited Early Childhood Education and Universal Pre-K programs give all Riverdale children access to free, quality education.
The Riverdale Community Center was launched by Ferne LaDue, a parent and community activist, in 1972. A cultural revolution was underway. More and more women were entering the workforce. Youth were rejecting the 1950s norms of their parents. LaDue was concerned that unattended children and teens would become vulnerable to high risk behavior. She proposed that keeping a public school building open for afternoons, evenings and weekends, would create “a home away from home” to offer cultural and recreational opportunities in a safe, structured environment. Working with the principal of MS 141 and the Parent’s Association, she created a program that has now been in existence for almost 50 years. In addition to serving middle school and high school students, it includes adult offerings and the RCC Teen Theater program which has produced a full-scale musical every spring since 1982, and more recently fall dramas and comedies.
That all lives are enriched by participation in a compassionate and supportive community
That the enduring strength of our community relies on cultivating a spirit of neighborliness and mutual respect among diverse populations
That we should work to bring groups and individuals together as an inclusive community
That families require lifelines of support and benefit from community services and programs responsive to their needs
That children and their families from all socioeconomic backgrounds should have equal access to quality early childhood programs
That children and teens should have a safe environment for their development in order to foster positive social interactions
That seniors, including the homebound elderly, need and deserve to be valued as individuals who are important to the fabric of community life
That an effective settlement house and community center must continually evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs of its community
Riverdale Neighborhood House (RNH) and Riverdale Community Center (RCC) are community-based organizations in Riverdale that joined forces in 2018 in order to better serve communities from Marble Hill to the…