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Shinnyo-en Foundation Receives Teen Spirit Award

web5The City of White Plains, New York and Shinnyo-en Foundation have over a decade-long history of working together. One of the first Shinnyo-en temples in the US was built in White Plains and over the years, the Foundation acted as a link between the temple and the White Plains community, supporting the city’s Youth Bureau, Recreation & Parks, Public Schools, Library and various other projects. The Foundation’s goals are not only to support programs that nurture youth through service, but to also directly support the US communities that Shinnyo-en temples call home. In 2005, the Foundation supported the renovation of the children’s space called The Trove in the White Plains Public Library to promote early literacy. Most recently, The Foundation supported the development of The Edge, a space in the library dedicated to giving teens access to state-of-the-art technology and media education. It is our hope that the space will become a hub for collaborative projects that will encourage teens to become engaged and responsible citizens.

In early November, program staff from the Foundation met with teachers and students from the White Plains Middle Schools and High School, White Plains Library staff, and temple leaders to hash out ways in which existing middle school and high school service-learning programs could work together with the library. While schools and libraries seemingly have a natural fit, collaboration doesn’t always come easily, and in the coming year, the Foundation hopes to play a small role in convening the school district and library at the 2014 National Service-Learning Conference in Washington D.C. to showcase this city-wide collaboration.

During the November meetings, small groups came up with ideas ranging from technology classes for elders taught at the library by teen volunteers to expanding the existing work of the middle and high school program called Global Ambassadors. Youth expressed their excitement for the new space, which will be accessible even when school is out in the evenings or in the summer.

Rev. Eitaro Hayashi accepts Teen Spirit Award

Rev. Eitaro Hayashi accepts Teen Spirit Award

That same weekend, the White Plains Library Foundation held its annual Fall Gala to show off The Edge to its many supporters. Over 200 guests walked through the space that will soon be filled with a new media lab, books, places to lounge, and even a 3-D printer! The Edge is scheduled to open to the public on December 14, 2013. The Foundation was humbled to be one of three award recipients that night and was honored with the Teen Spirit Award for our contributions to support educational programs that engage youth in meaningful acts of service. Foundation board member and White Plains Temple Manager, Reverend Eitaro Hayashi, accepted the award on our behalf, and was even presented with a declaration that November 2nd is officially “Shinnyo-en Foundation Day”. Other honorees at the Gala included long-time library volunteer Yuki Itoh Haynes and the White Plains Youth Bureau Executive Director, Frank Williams, Jr. We thank the Library Foundation for the recognition and look forward to continue building upon our relationships in the City of White Plains.