Many people are familiar with the Sisters of the Divine Compassion from their work teaching young women at Preston High School. There is, however, another ministry sharing the school’s Schurz Avenue property offering counseling, tutoring, and social services to women and children.
The Sisters of the Divine Compassion’s Preston Center of Compassion, was incorporated in 2003 to meet the needs of women and children living in Throggs Neck.
Founded by Sr. Anne Kelly, the ministry gradually grew out of the high school’s programs through the formation of a summer camp and counseling services in the 1990s. The center received its first grant from the Archdiocese Drug Abuse Prevention Program in 1999, and is now located at 2780 Schurz Avenue.
The center meets the needs of the community with out-patient mental-health care, low-cost tutoring for children and teens, mentoring of low-income and at-risk children, safe and affordable care of children, and spiritual development activities under the leadership of executive director Sr. Patricia Warner, and an independent board of trustees.
“We are looking to expand our outreach to women and children in the Throggs Neck community through our counseling, Big Sister, tutoring, and employment services,” Warner said. “The sisters have been in the neighborhood since the 1920s, and our neighbors know about the fine work done at Preston High School. We want to establish our own identity for this separate mission of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion.”
One of the largest components of the numerous programs offered at the center is a Big Sister program, which currently enrolls about 35 young women paired with children recommended from P.S. 72’s third, fourth, and fifth grades.
The Big Sister program includes tutoring and mentoring. In addition, the center also works with at-risk children from Mosholu Parkway, providing many with summer youth corps jobs during the break from school. This helps between 40 and 60 young people to earn $1,200 over the course of the summer as camp counselors.
Sr. Carol Wagner provides low-cost counseling at the center.
“We saw that there were not a lot of options when it came to finding quality mental health counseling in Throggs Neck at affordable prices,” Wagner said. “We think that the Preston Center of Compassion can fill a need in this area.”
The Preston Center of Compassion also runs a low-cost tutoring program that provides general homework help. Eight graduate student teachers from the College of New Rochelle tutor children for $7.50 an hour.
For more information on the center, please call (718) 892-8977.