Former Yankee slugger Bernie Williams opens rehabed Millbrook Community Center

New York Yankees legend Bernie Williams was on hand to unveil renovations to the Millbrook Community Center.

The baseball slugger came to the community center at 201 St. Ann’s Avenue in the Mill Brook Houses on Wednesday, August 3. The center was one of five $50,000 nationwide winners of “Drops of Good: The Maxwell House Community Project” contest.

Maxwell House teamed up with non-profit Rebuilding Together NYC to install a wheelchair lift in the basement of the community center, which houses after-school and education programs, and other major enhancements.

Williams joined in on the last day of the four days of renovations by volunteers, and helped to paint the music room in the basement, as well as jamming on the bongos there. He also signed the wall in the music room.

“Working on this particular project is fitting because it is near where I used to play ball for 16 years,” Williams said. “It is just the right thing to do.”

The retired ballplayer now has more free time to devote to charitable causes, and wanted to help out, he said.

Renovations included the painting of the entire basement and upstairs dinning area in the center in bright and inviting colors, as well as new overhead lighting, study areas, flooring, air conditioners, and the wheelchair lift, which makes the center ADA accessible and allows the center to apply for more federal grants, said Leslie Mantrone, a manager for East Side House Settlement, which runs Millbrook Community Center.

“These renovations are going to enable us to expand the kind of programming we offer, and we are specifically going to seek funds for job training for people ages 18 to 24,” Mantrone said. The summer school and after-school programs are going to be the immediate beneficiaries of the renovation, and they will come back tomorrow to a new center.”

Helping organize the scores of volunteers who did all of the work on the project, as well as a month of work by contractors prior to the volunteer portion of the project, was Rebuilding Together NYC.

“Aesthetics and function are the goals here,” said Rebuilding Together NYC executive director Matthew Lang. “It would be dark down in the basement without the new lighting. Air conditioning here is a must.”

The settlement house won a national contest by Kraft Foods’ Maxwell House where it placed in the top five in Internet voting. The top five vote getters in the nationwide contest won $50,000 in renovations, while the five runners up got grants of 5,000.

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