Career Opportunity: Maintenance Technician

Maintenance Technician position open at RUPCORUPCO is looking for a Maintenance Technician to join its team of property professionals. This full-time, hourly position (35-hour work week plus rotating on-call responsibility) assists in the day-to-day maintenance of all RUPCO owned/managed properties. The Maintenance Technician reports directly to the Maintenance Supervisor. Duties may include, but are not limited to:

Position Responsibilities:

  1. Use of work order system to accomplish maintenance tasks as assigned.
  2. Accomplish unit turnarounds including make ready time.  Provide unit inspections as required.
  3. In association with the Property Management Supervisor and Maintenance Supervisor, contribute to the development and implementation of preventive maintenance plan. Maintain high-quality maintenance standards.
  4. Maintain rental units to include preventive, daily cleanliness and condition of grounds and common areas, emergency repairs or services.
  5. In association with the Property Management Supervisor and Maintenance Supervisor, assist with vendor relations, including obtaining Hold Harmless Agreements and ensuring compliance with insurance requirements.
  6. Complete required reports. Maintain maintenance files as required.
  7. Provide research and initiative in the area of maintenance or property management.
  8. Maintain compliance with all federal, state and local regulations and other mandated guidelines and policies relevant to property management and operations including safety and quality assurance.
  9. Provide ‘on-call’ after-hours weekday, weekend and holiday coverage as scheduled.
  10. Perform additional duties as assigned.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Education and Experience

  • Basic knowledge of general maintenance repairs (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc.)
  • Basic knowledge of equipment used to perform general maintenance repairs
  • Able to lift at least 50 lbs., climb stairs and ladders, not afraid to get hands “dirty”
  • Valid and acceptable driver’s license endorsed by agency insurance company
  • Reliable transportation to get between worksites
  • Enthusiastic, friendly and positive attitude
  • Able to work independently but also as part of the team in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent communication skills: written and oral
  • Experience in a customer service environment (our tenants are our customers)
  • Tolerance and sensitivity to a diverse population
  • Strong work ethic

Attractive benefits package and working environment. Please submit notice of interest for this position to rkozlowski@rupco.org — applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

RUPCO-RCAL Summer Intern Sorts Data for Deeper Knowledge

John Krom, Sacred Heart UniversityRUPCO welcomes Sacred Heart University junior John Krom as a summer intern addressing issues of poverty in the local area. Krom will work closely with experienced staff in Program Services to help identifying families eligible for the Family Self-sufficiency Program, explore resident population statistics, and determine other demographic data. A recipient of the American Legion Scholarship Award, Krom is also a part of Sacred Heart University’s Junior Achievement group, which focuses on teaching young children the aspects of business and what careers are available to their generation. Krom’s internship is a result of a partnership between RUPCO, RCAL and New York State  Education Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES).

Bonnie Dumas, ACCES Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, coordinated the summer work experience. “We hope this opportunity at RUPCO will give John work experience and provide him soft skills in a career field he is interested in.” She sees this as an opportunity for John to gain the workforce experience he needs to transition from college schedules to business structure.

RUPCO oversees paid and unpaid internships each year as part of its commitment to the community. “We believe in providing valuable work experience in the nonprofit sector,” notes Tara Collins, Director of Communications of Resource Development. “In just the last three years, RUPCO has hosted a dozen interns from SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, Kingston High School, Sacred Heart University and Walden School District. Students gain skills and a resume addition, but the real value comes with their increased knowledge about their communities and how nonprofits support their neighborhoods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonprofit sector accounted for 11.4 million jobs nationwide in 2013, 10.3% of all private sector employment. That employment number is rising each year. Interning is a valuable experience for future young professionals and helps them understand the mechanics of nonprofit business in general, and RUPCO’s community engagement specifically.”

Hilary Nichols of RCAL is glad John has the opportunity to share his skillset at RUPCO while also being open to learning new skills that will cross connect in other spheres of the workforce. “John will brings a sense of eagerness and a way for people to re-look at their own job so they have a renewed sense of importance. I hope it will bring a sense of satisfaction within the RUPCO agency to have him there. I hope John will gain a sense of what the culture and climate is within an office or business environment so he learns how everyone needs to come together as a team to get things done. He can take what he learns and also apply it to college.”

John Krom and familyKrom’s previous customer service experience will come in handy this summer. A former line cook at Hurley Mountain Inn and waiter for Olivebridge’s County Inn, Krom also assisted with planning and organizing college activities. These jobs have prepared him with organizational skills and attention to tend to customer needs. Along with data entry and demographic research, Krom’s investigative skills will help RUPCO better understand its client base and how to serve them better in the future. Krom hopes that through collaborative work, he can help RUPCO clients and program participants advance to “better living, so people can move on, to lead more independent lives, and to help them save money.”

For Krom, Home Matters because it “shelters and protects you. It’s your sanctuary, and it makes you feel safe.” He emphasizes the importance of having a stable family life within home. “Family is what motivates you to your best. It helps you grow into the best human you could be, and provides a safe environment for you to live in. Family teaches you the foundation of life and pushes you to never give up. Without my family, I don’t know where I would be or where my motivation would come from.”

Digging Deep for Community Connection

Karen Miller has a special mission: to steward the Rondout and Liberty Street Community Gardens. Conveniently located in Kingston, both areas boast rectangular raised beds of fertile soil, a watering system, and opportunities to get your hands dirty while helping the Earth in a positive way. Miller hopes that these gardens will relieve residents of stress, so that these special places will offer them something in return other than a tangible product.

Miller sees community gardens as a way for people to “have success at what they are doing, that they see their efforts, and that whatever they put in there, they get something out of it. I want people to come back because they feel good about themselves. It’s exciting that they get excited.”

A local resident interested in the gardens called Miller one day and asked for two plots. Miller calls him her “wow guy.” He figured spending time gardening with his ill wife would enhance their relationship and give them something meaningful they could share during an emotionally turbulent time in their lives. Unfortunately, his wife died before they could start together, but he continues to tend the most productive patch on Liberty Street. There’s something therapeutic, digging deep, getting your hands into the soil.

Even children can benefit from the fruits of gardening. Miller hopes that adults who burrow sections of allotted land and soil—solely at the Rondout—will relay practices to children, such as youthful interest in weeding or watering. For example, Miller watched a mother come to the Liberty Street garden recently to show her child the flowers in bloom. The mother put the compost in the flowers and spoke of the purpose of her actions while the child watched. Miller believes that teaching children important life lessons early on is essential towards healthy growth. “I encourage the kids to come and help.”

Miller states that she gets personal pleasure from gardening: a way to recycle a day’s worth of stress or negativity and harness a positive sustenance that heals the mind and body. Miller is mindful when she gardens, “I am a sensualist person. I love the feel of the soil, the smell of the soil. And I like that when I plant something that there is a vegetable or plant that comes from it. I also like the feeling of having a little bit of control of where you put a plant, but also the lack of control.” This perspective has a spiral effect into other areas of life, being aware of control is central in developing a realistic sense of the world. Paradoxically, she hopes people “will lose themselves in gardening,” so that they can pay more attention to things that are in the immediate surroundings and not worry about the past or future. Gardening allows us to develop a sense of where we are, who we are, and what we are doing. It’s about digging deep, making a connection, simply being in that moment with nature.

Miller hopes these personal successes and life lessons wrought by gardening will provide fertile ground for future development and joy in unexpected ways. When life’s struggles and stressors cloud our outlook, gardening can cultivate something rich and beautiful within. This light can yield good energy for others to connect with—and therefore create roots in sustainability and livability in an increasingly digital, abstract world.

Residents interested in gardening a raised bedsat either location can email Karen Miller to get started.  Beds are $5 and include access to the garden space, compost, and a fair share of weeds. Bring your own plants, seedlings, seeds, and garden tools; water provided at both locations.

Celebrity Parrots Find Paradise in Ruby

KINGSTON, NY—Gloria Waslyn has been a successful career counselor, a long-time peace advocate, and a professional photographer; but her most important priority is to provide a comfortable and healthy living environment for her parrots who promote messages of peace. Indeed, campaigning for peace and the environment have been at the top of both Gloria’s and her parrot’s to-do list for nearly 20 years. The Parrots for Peace are the primary reason why she moved to the Woodstock area. Waslyn pursued this move from NYC seven years ago, and she and the birds now live in a house in which they feel safe and secure which they were able to purchase with the help of RUPCO’s Homeownership Center. They are also working towards the next steps in promoting peace, effecting equanimity with spirits as light as a feather, strong as a Buddhist mantra.

The family’s origins began at the Urban Bird parrot store in SoHo 18 years ago, where Gloria chanced upon a female parrot who was then three months old, and immediately, she knew their paths had crossed for a reason. Waslyn promised the parrot that “I’d give her the best life I could so she could do the work she crossed my path to do: together, we would work to educate people that we are all inter-connected.” Waslyn named her Merlin, because she could “make the best kind of magic… to make children smile.”

While vacationing in Cape Cod and perusing a shrubbery store, one-year-old Merlin fell in love with a six-month-old male parrot, and Mr. Baby was adopted. Mr. Baby and Ms. Merlin soon became a power couple, rainforest ambassadors, and spokesavians for nature and wildlife. Their portfolio demonstrates an active role in the United Nations’ International Day of Peace as well as Human Rights Day. Since September 11, 2001, their official title became “Parrots for Peace,” which attests to their huge undertaking of national and international cooperation. Since then, the parrot couple have had two beautiful children, Peace-nik and Ara, and they travel together as a family to participate in Peace and Green Festivals.

First-time homebuyer Gloria Waslyn & Parrots for PeaceThough the birds have an impressive track record, getting there cost Waslyn financially and emotionally.  She met a man involved with the peace movement and made the move to the Woodstock/Phoenicia area. Gloria soon became involved in the anti-fracking movement, instead of working solely on Parrots for Peace. Gloria was not earning enough income, and simply ran out of money.

With RUPCO’s assistance, Waslyn took the homebuyer education course, found a home, and qualified for grants that would cover some of the costs necessary to make her new space livable. She secured part of her closing costs and a mortgage. Now, Waslyn is delighted to have monthly payments that are far less costly than her previous rent. “This allows me to have the opportunity to focus completely on the next chapter of my mission; the Parrots for Peace, comprising environmental education, social justice, and advocating for the interconnectedness of the planet.”

Her feet are firmly planted in her home in Ruby, showing stability after not knowing if an opportunity for homeownership would arise in the community. “I have developed real roots here. The idea of going somewhere completely new would be an adventure, but everyone I know is here and is right down the street,” states Waslyn.

The birds have also managed to attract recognition through making lasting friendships. Their presence has made some of the most powerful connections that animals can bring to human lives through a one-time meeting, bound to a child’s memory. Waslyn described a memorable outing with the birds, when they provided love and support to people who convened at Rockefeller Center at Christmastime. A young girl ran up to them, asking them if they remembered her from a few years back. She dug her toes into her shoes, like a tree roots itself in the soil, and spread her arms to catch the sunlight while they perched on her “branches,” and promised to help create world peace. Waslyn was taken aback by the magic that radiated from the connection that lasted between a young child and the parrots over the years. These moments of impact are constituent components of real change, like how a small pebble dropped in water creates ripples. She may not remember the specific event as she matures, but, Gloria states, “…something will stick” and spark a response that will unfold as concern for animals and nature. Perhaps seedlings of animal or environmental activism will sprout, bloom into local efforts, and pollinate far-off areas to achieve a more naturalistic world.

Waslyn is also optimistic about RUPCO’s future and its staff’s determination to carry out a mission for safe, affordable housing for all. Upon reflection, Waslyn states, “RUPCO was one of the many helpful pieces in a long chain of family, friends, and former clients who offered ideas, loans, gifts, and work to make my dream for the Parrots for Peace unfold as step one of their bigger plan.”

Local Artist Finds Solace in Lace Mill, Continues Artistic Journey Despite Setbacks

Lace Mill resident-artist Dawn BisioDawn Bisio’s home environment is stable now, but that was not always the case just two years ago. Recently divorced and motivated to redirect her life path, she moved to the Hudson Valley from Westchester, coincidentally at the same time RUPCO announced a call for artists to #WhereArtistsLive. After financial upset with divorce legal fees, she found opportunity at The Lace Mill to be the silver lining in turbulent times.

“The Lace Mill has been motivating for me artistically and the creative community has helped me feel secure and supported, and turned around the worst times,” she remembers.

However, landing an apartment wasn’t straightforward. At first, she missed the first lottery round of new tenants. But she stayed within the area, stayed positive, and reflected on possibilities that might arise if an applicant dropped out or didn’t follow through with a lease. So she waited, and checked in with RUPCO from time to time. Luckily, during RUPCO’s second lottery wave for the newly finished East end—which was under final construction—she got the call. Ecstatic, she agreed to move in and start fresh in her career and home life. She now shares memories with fellow tenants who moved in the same time she did, and they bond over communal living quirks and resident building meet-ups.

Besides sharing the trickle-down effects of administrative check-ins and construction work during the renovation period, Bisio shares other fond thoughts of residents at Lace Mill. “I run into people who are truly fascinating, kind and supporting, and if we [my husband and I] were out by ourselves, we would feel isolated and lonely sometimes—here we can have a glass of wine outside with people we live with, and that’s really nice to have.”

Of course, there are periods when communal living is a bit overwhelming, and Bisio states she sometimes “just needs to retreat and find my own source of peace. I personally like peace and quiet, but I wouldn’t trade this living.” She finds serenity in her own company when she is not spending time collaborating on art shows or conversing with neighbors.

The outside world beckons her attention in between these solitary times for exploration and discovery. “Shapes, people outdoors, moments of reflection, and also things that happen to me personally,” provide sparks of insight into subjective reasoning.

In the larger social domain, things that may not make sense immediately are great catalysts for creative energy. The mystery is what may be alluring to contemplate, like an unsolved riddle that provides more questions than solutions. Bisio notes that maybe things—and people—can convey interesting truths to examine without making sense. “I always try to find a way to process things, especially things that I can’t figure out. Art and writing helps translate experiences or questions, and leads me to an answer—not the answer—but it helps me to make sense of the world and to create things of beauty.”

Allowing herself to branch out is also a large part of being inspired. She finds that while she is toning down on writing, she is able to explore other art forms that clue in on aspects of herself that weren’t revealed before. A recent piece entitled “Mobile Home,” made of a globe that is evocative of the Sun, explores her identity being a Korean adoptee. Another piece featured in the upcoming Dirty Laundry exhibit is a mixed-media work on a canvas box that opens up and allows viewers to see “inside her dreams,” which are written in text on a tree background. Many of her pieces are a result of abstract ideas that echo memories, and are difficult to convey in the real world.

“A lot of my pieces involve construction, and part of the challenge is knowing ‘how do I suspend it correctly, what materials do and don’t work, and how do I translate the pure idea into a work of art?’”

Though home is “like a base,” the foundation that promises security while figuring out the mechanics of her ideas, she hopes to travel in the near future, and have Lace Mill as a part-time home. But with Kingston’s arts district on the rise, she may have incentive to stay here and develop further. “It’s exciting to see where we are going. People are doing all sorts of events: kids events, different workshops, and Midtown Kingston’s growing arts district, so in 10 years from now, who knows what will be happening.”

For now, Bisio continues to shine her light in The Lace Mill gallery, displaying works that reflect her background and experience. Her pieces are testaments to what she has seen and felt, and the light she often utilizes in her works parallel the beauty and strength in her journey of self-knowledge.

Getting to a place of comfort and acceptance isn’t always easy. Bisio has been criticized for being an artist, a general stereotype and stigma still surround the “artistic” label. Those labels — lazy, disorganized, scattered — weigh on her confidence. Instead of focusing on the negative that would drain her livelihood, she states, “I think it’s best to be true to yourself—you have to do what inspires you and not be influenced by other’s opinions. People will think differently about what’s good and bad. So just do the work, no matter how slow the process, even if it’s just one step a day.”

Applying to and inquiring about The Lace Mill proved to be winning leaps in a lottery draw of applicants, and her current endeavors in participating at gallery exhibits are antecedents for growth in a supportive setting—who knows where these little steps will take her next.

Lace Mill resident-artists collaborate, artists receptions, gallery exhibits Aug. 5

Dirty-Laundry-lefttoright-Bisio-Lockhart-Cardenas-CulpepperAn integral part of MADKingston’s First Saturday attractions through the City of Kingston, The Lace Mill hosts three artist receptions this Saturday, August 5 from 5 to 8 p.m. at 165 Cornell Street. Resident-artists at The Lace Mill will collaborate on three distinct shows in three distinct onsite galleries. Artist receptions are free and open to the public this weekend.

The first exhibit titled Dirty Laundry appears in The Lace Mill’s East Gallery and Mezzanine. Resident-artists Dawn Bisio, Dan Cardenas, Chelsea Culpepper, and Aaron Lockhart will be showing their multidisciplinary works, featuring several mobile or suspending pieces, mostly made from fabric, plaster, and other objects sculpted together. Through immersive installation, drawing, and sculpture, Dirty Laundry investigates ways of navigating public and private spaces, personal histories, discreet eccentricities, social taboos, and cultural schisms. “Dirty Laundry is the happy result of a community of artists coming together. I wanted to do a dynamic show about secrets and lies, identity and privacy,” says Dawn Bisio. “As our fraught relationship to privacy continues to evolve, these works are a reflection of our precarious disposition in an increasingly porous world.” Her husband and world-renowned recording artist Michael Bisio will entertain gallery visitors with live bass music that evening. For separate viewings of Dirty Laundry through August 19, contact Dawn Bisio at (845) 616-7133 for more details.

Lace Mill resident-artist James Martin with The Watercolor ExhibitJames Martin, another Lace Mill resident-artist, is curating The Watercolor Exhibit with an opening reception also from 5 to 8 p.m. in The Lace Mill Main Gallery and Boiler Room. The Watercolor Exhibit features some of the region’s best watercolor artists including Claudia Engel, Staats Fasoldt, James Martin, Naoko Oshima, Kazuma Oshita, Susan Silverman, Charlotte Tusch, and Lexi Williams. The group will showcase mixed abstract and realism art. Private viewings of The Watercolor Exhibit are available through August 26; contact James Martin at (347) 387-6874 for more details.

Lace Miller Lexi Williams curates the third show with assistance from neighbor James Martin. Entitled The Yellow Spot Tickle Dot Exhibit, this show’s opening reception is also open from 5 to 8 p.m. in The Lace Mill’s West Gallery. This family affair highlights folk art and photography from Williams, her family, and friends. Martin is thrilled to have all three shows happening at the same time. “Rarely do we have all three galleries used at the same time—I know it’s going to be powerful.” Private viewings of The Yellow Spot Tickle Dot Exhibit are available through August 26; contact James Martin at (347) 387-6874 for more details.

Built in 1903, The US Lace Curtain Mill boasted a long history as a major 20th-century employer and fine lace fabricator. RUPCO purchased the vacant shell, boarded up for the better part of three decades, in December 2013, setting in motion adaptive reuse of the historic building with a vision for creative placemaking. A community block party in August 2016 celebrated the opening of 55 apartments of affordable living preferenced for artists, officially anchoring the City of Kingston’s artistic community at the north end of Cornell Street. In addition to residential space, The Lace Mill shares 8,000 square feet of public gallery space as cultural activity centers open to its residents, local community and visiting public audiences. The Lace Mill has received six prestigious awards for design and historic preservation including Preservation Action’s “Best of 2016” and NYSERDA’s Trailblazer Award for housing the City’s largest solar array (160Kw).

Lace Mill Couple Host Dance Festival Fundraiser on July 23

Bon Dori Dance Festival 2016Youko and Kazuma Yamamoto work together to raise awareness of nuclear energy issues that will ultimately impact the livelihood of future generations. They are hosting a festival, the Bon-Odori Dance Festival for Peace, at Kingston Point Beach on August 6th, 2017 from 1-7pm, (dance at 6:30pm) and they welcome everyone to come and have fun while raising funds for an important cause. What better way to shake off unnecessary usage and preoccupation of nuclear energy than to create good vibes through dancing?

Back to the grim: statistics reveal that over 75,000 people in Nagasaki, and 150,000 in Hiroshima have been killed since the nuclear bombings of each city. And these numbers likely don’t accurately measure the true number of lives taken; many Japanese have the concept of shame attached to physical or mental disabilities, and so they don’t report theirs or their children’s issues in analytical studies.

With nearly 450 reactors worldwide, mostly located along water and even more being constructed in America and China, Youko and Kazuma are concerned that we are cornering ourselves in potentially dangerous conditions, especially if our nuclear energy usage only increases.

Most recently, a nuclear meltdown disaster resulting from a tsunami and earthquake in Fukushima shocked residents and worldwide onlookers, enforcing the anxiety that nuclear energy is valid. Though Youko and Kazuma were involved in anti-nuclear campaigns before, disaster Fukushima sparked a renewed interest in advocacy and led them to ways in which to promote peace and environmental justice.

Youko & Kazuma Yamamato, resident-artists at The Lace MillWhile Youko was at the family restaurant, Gomen-Kudasi located in New Paltz, NY, Livia and Billy of the Vanaver Caravan dance company asked her, “”Youko, do you know ‘Tanko-bushi’?” from the traditional Japanese coal-mining song. While singing, an idea for a dance festival came to mind. “Why not do something locally?” Later tying the idea of her routine spiritual ritual of chanting Buddhism suturas with the impromptu vocal performance, Youko states, “chanting heart sutura is a good practice, but it isn’t so popular, especially among young people. I thought if I transform it as a fun dance festival, it could invite a lot more people to join us to think about those who suffered in the radiation disasters, such as Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and a lot more.” She figured a dance event would bring people together to participate and learn effectively, since there is more power in numbers than there is in individuals trying to make changes.

Youko states that when dancing together, “the best part is, even though it is a Japanese folk dance, it’s simple! Our feelings, heart, and spirit unite and our ancestors are with us… we all feel it together.”

A pre-event fundraiser for Bon-Odori Dance Festival for Peace will be held on July 23rd at Lace Mill, 165 Cornell Street, from 2-5pm. Preparing for both the fundraiser and the festival is no easy feat. Youko says costs determine what activities and supplies will be undertaken or purchased. “All the money raised will be used to host the event: insurance, fees to the professional helpers and performers, equipment rental (one large tent cost $2,500!), legal fees, printing all promo material including registration packets, cards, posters, programs, banners, road signs. We usually need more than $5,000 total.” Youko hopes to raise $1,500 at the Lace Mill Fundraiser.

What’s the big draw to the June 23rd Lace Mill fundraiser? The food! Youko, a restauranteur, will “prepare amazing, high quality food with my own recipes.” A plethora of Japanese cuisine and the preparation to make the foods will reflect old traditional practices—down to the ice, which will be hand-shaved and put in drinks, including cold brew tea. Cuban jazz music from the 30’s and 40’s will fill the atmosphere with a different flux of energy to add to the cultural celebration.

Bon Dori Dance Festival for Peace, August 6, 2017All are welcome to attend the Lace Mill fundraiser, which will only mark the beginning of a communal resistance effort. The ultimate goal of the fundraiser, festival and subsequent advocacy efforts is, according to Youko and Kazuma, “to see a nuclear free future.” Besides eating delicious food and getting your groove on, the Yamamoto’s suggest taking action as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and care for the Earth in a more intentional way. The other approach is to lobby against the building of nuclear power plants, since only a small number make large profits from the construction and distribution of nuclear energy, and the losses incurred from pollution and radioactivity emission risk are outsizing the gains. The Yamamoto’s carry on Pete Seeger’s message of having a peaceful world, eventually creating a movement that advances human relationships to each other and to the Earth in a determinedly holistic approach.

Make a donation online here; all contributions benefit the dance festival and the creation of a safe and enjoyable community event.

For more information about the Bon-Odori Dance Festival for Peace, visit BonOdoriKingston on Facebook, and be sure to like, comment, or share the page with your friends!

Contact Sakura Kojima at (845) 255-8811, or email gomenkudasainy@gmail.com for further details.

Couple Find Creativity, Privacy at Lace Mill

Youko & Kazuma Yamamato, resident-artists at The Lace MillBefore living at the Lace Mill, Youko and Kazuma owned a home in Gardiner with scenic views and remote neighbors. Never did they think they would receive housing assistance. But the day came when they could no longer afford to pay their mortgage and keep up with other expenses that piled up quickly. Eventually they found a place that suited their needs, in rural New York. They think living in the Lace Mill community experience helps them to focus their time and energy on their New Paltz restaurant, Gomen-Kudasai, and not on costly house maintenance or routine upkeep.

Rising taxes eventually squeezed the Yamamoto’s out of an affordable living space in NYC. They then moved upstate to Gardiner and began looking for other housing options as they could not afford the mortgage on their restaurant income. Thankfully, their son’s Waldorf School teacher suggested The Lace Mill for local artists. “We got the interview about two weeks later, and fortunately they took us in, and now we are very comfortable,” Youko says.

Youko elaborates that living in Lace Mill provides the same security as does a home without an assistance program. “I feel like it’s our nest right now,” she says. “We know that it is not our final home, but it is our hideout community for us.” The Yamamoto’s have a safe space to lead their own lives and artistically create in privacy.

“I know a lot of artists who don’t have comfortable living,” states Youko. “RUPCO is an excellent resource to utilize, especially for artists who want to continue their work but have limited means to purchase supplies or rent studio spaces.”

Following in good fortune with RUPCO’s help, Kazuma found a workplace in Saugerties in which he is able to continue his metalsmith career. His original studio was in an upstairs workshop in High Falls; residents below would regularly complain of the machinery noise. Now, he uses the space without worry about disrupting neighbors below.

Bon Dori Dance Festival for Peace, August 6, 2017Youko and Kazuma believe in community contribution and welcome opportunity for Lace Mill residents to feel like they are living as part of the real world. Youko and Kazuma believe it is wise to take responsibility for the space they rent, and not fall back on complimentary services to elevate their experience beyond typical means, otherwise complacency and a distorted sense of entitlement may arise. That’s why they’re hosting the Bon Odori Festival on August 6th, as a way to give back to the community.

The Bon-Odori Dance Festival for Peace, and other RUPCO programs fiber offer positive effects. People of modest means and their families contribute much to the community when given the opportunity to live peacefully amongst neighbors. Find out more about the couple’s fundraiser on June 23 and the Bon Dori Dance Festival on August 6.

Career Opportunity: Housing Counselor

For Sale - SOLD signs and handsOur HomeOwnership Center is looking for a special person to round out out team of housing counseling professionals. The Housing Counselor reports directly to RUPCO’s Homeownership Center Manager. This is a temporary (approximately 18 months)  full-time position, 35 hours per week.

Position Responsibilities:

  • Responsible to support counseling services offered by the RUPCO HomeOwnership Center.
  • Responsible to conduct an initial assessment of income, credit worthiness and mortgage readiness.
  • Responsible to implement RUPCO’s Homebuyer Education program and facilitating orientations on and off site.
  • Responsible to ensure compliance with all grant programs when screening potential applicants for grants. 
  • Properly document and update information needed to determine funding for rehabilitation, down payment and closing costs.
  • Preparation of documents for funding.
  • Responsible to comply with all funding regulations through properly documented client files.
  • Responsible for all client-level data entry in all applicable data bases.
  • Assist the HomeOwnership Center Manager and Vice President of Housing Services in preparing quarterly reports on families served, status, and successful outcomes.
  • Provide additional reports as required.
  • Responsible for timely return of phone calls, follow up with clients, and excellent customer service.
  • Additional duties may be included but not listed here.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Education and Experience

  • Knowledge of mortgage loan products and documents, detail oriented with organized file management and communication skills helpful.
  • Must have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to work with diverse groups.
  • Computer literacy and data base experience in Excel necessary.
  • Must have current driver’s license and reliable vehicle for travel.
  • Ability to travel and attain training and certifications as needed.

Please submit notice of interest (cover letter and resume) for this position to saltomare@rupco.org or kgermain@rupco.org . Inquiries will be addressed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

RUPCO, NYS Rural Housing Coalition welcome VISTA member

Tara Collins, Monique Tranchina, Colin McKnightRUPCO welcomes AmeriCorps VISTA Member Monique Tranchina to its communications department this week. Volunteers In Service To America, or VISTA, is a 52-week program that focuses on “building capacity in nonprofit organizations to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty.” RUPCO secured its VISTA as part of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition (RHC)’s acceptance of 10 service members to support the work of rural preservation companies statewide.

Pictured here: Tara Collins (RUPCO Communications Director), Monique Tranchina (AmeriCorps VISTA Member), Colin McKnight (Executive Director, NYS Rural Housing Coalition).

VISTA members execute a national mission to “…promote literacy, improve health services, create businesses, increase housing opportunities, and bridge the digital divide.” As measured in 2015, about 13.5 percent of the population was in poverty: roughly 43.1 million people in the United States alone, according to government statistics, and Monique is determined to fight the war on poverty.

“I’m ready to serve those who deserve equal access to housing, and I wholeheartedly believe that even as a volunteer who works behind the scenes of RUPCO, I can effect change,” says Monique Tranchina, VISTA Member. “Through small efforts that ripple out in complex webs of support, intercommunication, and relationships, my service revolves around building a better  community. I hope to convey those messages through my editorial work, storytelling, and social media promotion this year.”

“We’re thrilled to have Monique on the team for the upcoming year. Not only does the VISTA experience offer her the personal opportunity to learn about work at hand in the housing sector and through nonprofit partnerships,” adds Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “Her presence also provides us the opportunity to increase our organizational impact, help more people, and improve our delivery of programs and services here in the Hudson Valley. As Editorial Assistant, Monique will work in RUPCO’s communication department on storytelling, social media channels, and behind-the-scenes support.”

Colin McKnight, Acting Executive Director of NYS RHC, adds in the affirmative that Monique will lend more awareness of the program, increasing the scope of people reached. “The Rural Housing Coalition is thrilled to welcome Monique to our statewide team of VISTA members working to address housing needs for rural New Yorkers. While gaining valuable work experience, these VISTAs will improve the quality of life for residents of our communities.” Founded in 1979, the New York State Rural Housing Coalition supports New York-based nonprofit housing and community development agencies to preserve affordable housing, develop new affordable housing units, and promote community revitalization. RHC further addresses the issue of homelessness or inability to afford housing without financial assistance, and works to secure local individuals or families with homes that suite their needs and income levels. RUPCO is one of 200 member organizations working in partnership with RHC to bring aid to Hudson Valley residents and homeowners.

On a smaller scale, Americorps VISTA members work within the United States to aid those within the nation who are underprivileged. Their sister program, Peace Corps, works more broadly to serve those internationally, and assists foreigners with professional training in their area of need while bridging the economic and social gap between other countries and the United States. While there are over 7,000 volunteers serving with Peace Corps, about 3,000 volunteers serve with the VISTA program this year. However, the impact of smaller organizations that designate smaller areas of assistance is equally as valuable as global outreach.