Prudence Nelmes, Fiber Artist

Headshot of Artist Prudence Nelmes“I cannot remember a time when I did not have a needle of some kind in my hand. I have always been interested in handmade items, sometimes knitted, sometimes crocheted, woven, or sewed.

I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, but after World War II, I married and traveled to other states. Tarrytown, NY was where I learned to rug hook. As I raised four children, I was interested in handmade clothes. When we moved to Maine in 1970, quilting was going strong with the Bicentennial Celebrations.

I joined a quilt guild and was fascinated by the variety of patterns and their history. So began my career of quilting. I learned a different form of quilting with every class I took. I loved matching colors and creating something of my own by following a pattern. I was even invited to make a square for Kennebunk, Maine’s Bicentennial quilt in 1976.

Prudence Nelmes' Flower workThen came teaching. I loved presenting a pattern and seeing each pupil create something totally different, all their own. We attended quilt shows and displayed our creations. A trip to Amish country influenced the next phase of my work as I began using more applique. On a trip to California, I learned the Quilt-in-a-Day method, which I later taught in a quilt shop. A trip to Hawaii is where I learned their unique quilting style. This led me to another form, the Baltimore Album Quilt, taught by a teacher from Washington, D.C.; the entire quilt is hand-stitched. For me, for the past 40 years, quilting has brought joy, new friends and the chance to be creative.”

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First-time Homebuyer Orientation Classes for 2016
Homeownership counselor Francisca Castellanos greets first-time homebuyers.Have you ever dreamed of owning your own home? Want to know if you qualify for a mortgage? Come learn about the basics of homeownership at the RUPCO First-time Homebuyer Orientation from 6:00pm-7:00pm. Attend one of the following free workshops open to the public:
Monday February 22, 2016
Wednesday March 9, 2016
Monday March 21, 2016
To register, contact Maru Gonzalez at 845.331.9864 ext. 220, by email at mgonzalez@rupco.org, or register online.
RUPCO is the region’s leading provider and advocate of quality, affordable housing, and community development programs aimed to provide opportunity and revitalize communities. For 35 years, RUPCO has worked to create homes, support people, and improve communities through supportive housing and related programs. RUPCO is one of NeighborWorks America 240 community development organizations. In 2015, RUPCO helped 75 first-time homebuyers to achieve their dreams of homeownership, bringing over $10 million in first-time mortgages with local lenders to the area. For more information on RUPCO, visit www.rupco.org.
What Home Means To Me

Susan Cagle, guest blogger “Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” ~ The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius IV, 43

As in a swiftly flowing river, we are led along by life and time whether we like it or not. In order to not just survive but thrive, we try to create as much stability and certainty as we can in an uncertain world. Home is a bulwark in the midst of all of the uncertainty.

My relationship with the concept of home is a strange and multi-faceted one. My parents were missionaries and musicians in a small Christian sect. They had 10 kids, of which I am second oldest, and as we came along, we were added to the family band. We travelled around the world singing and performing, each of us born in a different place (Aruba, where I was born, London, Miami, New York, Texas, Puerto Rico). We have lived in every kind of structure you can imagine. During our London stay, we had a beautiful three-story house with a rose-filled garden in the back, one of my favorite places we ever lived. We lived in hotels en route of our travels, in vans and buses that my father would gut and convert into campers, in a Swiss chalet at the top of the mountains with a view of a cascading waterfall and lake, and in trains and buses that would take us to the next town.

The river rolls on. When I was 12, we lived in a school bus that my dad converted into a camper. We would park on the a New York City side street and sleep. In the morning, we would wake up, unload our instruments, and busk on the street corner. I remember looking out of the window early in the mornings and watching the river of businessmen and women rushing to their jobs on their morning commute with their nice clothes and briefcases. In southern Germany, my little brother was born in Mainz. I was around age 5. Near where he was born, we lived at the top of a snowy mountain in what could only be called a ski resort. My mom and older brother, with me in tow, would sled down the hill to go to the main town below to buy supplies. It was scary, with a lot of trees on the hill on the sled down. Other times, and times less scary, we would live in hotels along our tour and performing route, with simply whatever we had on us — our instruments and our backpacks. In my teens, I started stuffing civilian clothes into my guitar case, so that I could have something to wear that wasn’t a costume. It was my attempt at being like a normal person during the times we weren’t performing.

When I finally left the family band at the age of 21 and struck out on my own, I experienced a tumultuous reconciliation of the two extremes of my developing environments. There was a necessary acclimation period to living in just one place. Although I do like to travel, visit different countries and places, and meet new people, having a home base allows me to fulfill the wanderlust that I have been imprinted with since birth. This desire will never go away, along with the certainty that — at the end of the day, at the end of whatever periods of curiosity I fulfill — I can come back to a checkpoint, a stable environment where I feel safe. Having a home base has been my guiding star, the prime directive of my life, the thing that is my ballast in a river strong and swift.

When we look at the history of mankind, we see that progress towards higher and more intricate thought processes and motivations, as compared to a more instinct-driven lifestyle, developed once we embraced the concept of a stable home. We experienced the kind of progress where subsequent generations could build upon the storehouses of knowledge of previous generations. We created concepts, morals and societies. Having a home is a necessity for growth, development and the manifestation of intricate interior qualities. When you are wondering where you are going to sleep and how you will shelter yourself, you cannot create beauty and make a long-lasting imprint. Unhoused, you are a frightened, scrabbling creature with basal thoughts led by instinct alone. But when you have a place you can call your own, you know you where you will end up at the end of the day. Your days are connected. You can bring your head out of survival mode and think about creation, beauty and adding higher qualities and concepts to this world.

RUPCO is doing the best work that one can do on this earth. Helping those who cannot afford a place to live to have a place they can call their own. Providing resources and information to people interested in owning their own home, being the last bastion between many and homelessness. I am honored to have been a part of RUPCO in their mission to strengthen homes, communities and lives.

Susan Cagle is RUPCO’s Assistant to Communications and a student at SUNY-Ulster majoring in computer science.

A Perspective on Homelessness

IMG_3695Imagine living in an apartment with two windows which were constantly covered with blinds, no kitchen, a small bathroom, all the size of a walk-in bedroom closet.  Most people would think this impossible in Ulster County, New York.  But it was the life I was living ten years ago.  I used to dread my bike ride home from the local fast food restaurant, to sleep on my uncomfortable futon, and to wake up hungry, depressed and alone in the dark.

I got stuck in this living situation after leaving home at a very early age.  Forced to leave an abusive family, after getting my ass beat and then locked out of the house one too many times, I decided that sleeping on whatever couch I could find was much better.  In my opinion, this is the untold story of homelessness.  Many people believe that the homeless are drug abusers who are too lazy to get and keep a job. In many cases, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Many young people are forced to leave home because living on a couch is better than being abused.

Now flash-forward ten years, and I find myself working an internship for RUPCO, a nonprofit organization that helps provide affordable housing in the region.  RUPCO believes that housing is a critical component of improving communities and providing people with better lives. This bedrock of comfortable, safe and affordable living is what drives positive impacts throughout a person’s entire life.

A few weeks ago, I saw the difference that RUPCO makes first hand while on a tour of an affordable housing project on Cornell Street in Kingston, called The Lace Mill.  I was standing in one of the smaller units in the building, but it didn’t feel small at all.  This beautiful studio apartment has seven 12-foot windows, a full kitchen, and all the space that a single person would ever need. The most impressive part was that it was similar in price for what I was paying to live in a closet.

From that moment in time forward, I knew that RUPCO was making a difference and I was glad to be a part of it. Even though I am the part-time intern, I realize that being part of a company like this is a very fulfilling career path and I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  I encourage those who can, to volunteer or donate to a nonprofit like RUPCO; they deserve all the help that they can get.  From this experience, I’m continuing to learn why “Home Matters.”

Dan Hanson is RUPCO’s Communications Assistant and a student at SUNY-New Paltz.

RUPCO Featured in Regional Arts Magazine Chronogram

Hargash-GHAV-Painting_Final_webRarely do you see an affordable housing champion highlighted in a regional arts magazine. That is, until this month.

On newsstands this week, the April 2015 edition of Chronogram Magazine features community developer and affordable housing innovator RUPCO in an article entitled “Painting the Town. The two-page spread, penned by writer Anne Pynburn Craig, highlights the recent RUPCO-commissioned painting by artist Stephen Hargash. The piece commemorates the public dialogue surrounding the development of an intergenerational campus for seniors, families and artists. Woodstock Commons, with its 52 units of affordable housing, withstood rigorous review for nearly five years, before being built in 2012. A case study in public perception of affordable housing and the fight over its placement, RUPCO eventually won the support and hearts of a community divided over publicly inviting low-income residents into their midst. The process, as much an external debate over affordable housing, spurred an internal inventory of Town of Woodstock residents, and the dismantling of fallacies that continue to plague housing projects with the public good at heart.

The Woodstock Common’s journey is typical of the conversation around affordable housing, the pending placement of “those people” within the community, and the importance of speaking up on behalf of those needing help most. “Give Housing a Voice” captures the intensity of the town hall meeting and the sharing of one personal story in particular, that of Tamara Cooper. “It was her courage that inspired the painting,” notes Kevin O’Connor, CEO at RUPCO, “I wanted to honor her, her story, and her willingness to share a very personal and painful time of her life in a very public way. Many in the audience knew her in a very different light; to find out she was “one of those people” shifted the sentiment around building Woodstock Commons. From her example — of stepping forward to speak on behalf of the low-income residents to benefit from the project — we’ve resurrected the Give Housing a Voice awareness-advocacy campaign. We’re releasing tool kits at an unveiling event on April 16 to empower people to hold intelligent, informed conversations about the role of affordable housing in our communities. Each town decides for itself how and where, if at all, affordable housing enters. Reducing barriers and dispelling the myths are part of that process. To give housing a voice and a seat at the table is important; we want people to have the tools and talking points they need to make the case for community development with much needed housing solutions.”

The article, “Painting the Town” can be found in Chronogram Magazine on page 36-37 or online www.chronogram.com/hudsonvalley/painting-the-town/Content?oid=2300349 .

The RUPCO-hosted event, Give Housing a Voice includes an artist reception, artwork unveiling and night of storytelling to be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Seven21 Media Center, 721 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401. Admission is free with freewill donations accepted at the door. For more information, visit www.rupco.org/advocacy/give-housing-a-voice/.

RUPCO has been creating homes, impacting lives and building community since 1981.  A leader in homeownership, foreclosure counseling, energy-efficiency and rental assistance programs, RUPCO is expanding its programmatic offerings throughout the Hudson Valley with the recent RDAC affiliation and urban revitalization projects in Newburgh, Saugerties, and Kingston. For more information, visit www.rupco.org.

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Hudson Valley Homeowners to Benefit from Homeownership Service Provider Affiliation

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Faith Moore, Executive Director for RDAC, and Kevin O’Connor, CEO for RUPCO are all smiles over the affiliate relationship effective April 1, 2015.

Hudson Valley homeowners stand to benefit from the affiliation of two affordable housing powerhouses this week. On April 1, RUPCO, the Hudson Valley’s leading affordable housing advocate and community developer, is incorporating Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corp. (RDAC) into its housing services model, thereby expanding its impact into Orange County. The collaboration will preserve regional access to homeowner and foreclosure counseling funding in Orange County while maintaining the delivery of much needed homeownership services to the region.

“We’ve created a parent-subsidiary relationship,” explains Kevin O’Connor, CEO at RUPCO. “As of April 1, RDAC will be an affiliate of RUPCO, working jointly with our NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center, to deliver services to new, established and in-crisis homeowners. This expanded relationship allows RUPCO to officially regionalize its housing efforts, a move that’s in line with RUPCO’s strategic plan.

“Like RUPCO, RDAC is a rural preservation company (RPC) funded by New York State Homes & Community Renewal (NYS HCR). Our primary reason for affiliation is to expand our collective reach and impact while maintaining state funding of each RPC to continue providing quality homeowner programs to those who need it most. Bringing like agencies together and to partner and affiliate with a Rural Preservation Company with a great track record like OCRDAC was a natural progression. By coming together, we will have greater ability to deliver more services to those in need. RDAC has Orange County relationships and boots on the ground in those communities. RUPCO brings grant-writing expertise, and efficiencies that will benefit both organizations and the clients we help. RUPCO and RDAC have already been collaborating on grant writing, counseling and training; to become parent-subsidy makes sense financially and programmatically.”

“RDAC has a long history of serving the homeownership community in Orange County,” continues O’Connor. “Maintaining the legacy built by Founding Executive Director Alice Dickinson, building on RDAC’s enduring reputation, and teaming up with current Executive Director Faith Moore, RUPCO sees this joining of forces as the best way to serve the Hudson Valley community with a longstanding community leader who keeps neighbors strong and thriving.”

“RDAC will remain RDAC in name,” notes Faith Moore, Executive Director at RDAC. “And we will continue the outstanding work of RDAC in three key areas: foreclosure counseling, energy-related work like weatherization and retrofits, and sponsorship of affordable housing projects in Orange County. RDAC’s key leadership will stay in place with Chairman Mike Bliss and board members Lynn Piscopo and Barbara Carr.” Also joining the RDAC board are RUPCO board member Joan Lonegran and CEO Kevin O’Connor. “We’re looking forward to the expanded opportunities in homebuyer education, owner-occupied rehabilitations, and grant opportunities, as RDAC works side-by-side with RUPCO. We can also foresee taking RDAC’s retrofit programs into the Hudson Valley and teaming up with RUPCO’s Green Jobs | Green New York to offer homeowners energy-efficiency and cost-saving options in 2015.” RDAC will remain in its offices at 2 South Mongomery Street, Walden. RUPCO’s main office is at 289 Fair Street, Kingston and has additional offices at 2 Main Street, Kingston (Ulster County) and 8 Lower Thompson Street, Catskill (Greene County).

RDAC is now a subsidiary of RUPCO, the region’s leading provider and advocate of quality, affordable housing and community development programs aimed to provide opportunity and revitalize communities in Hudson Valley. With over 30 years’ experience, RDAC has rehabilitated or constructed more than 1,000 housing units in Orange County. Since 1983, RDAC has been instrumental in assisting thousands of residents to obtain financing, mortgage restructuring and services to remain in existing homes or apartments. RDAC, which assists locally employed households and senior citizens, administers various state and federal housing grant programs and offers counseling services. For additional information, visit www.ocrdac.org.

RUPCO, RDAC’s parent company, has been creating homes, impacting lives and building community since 1981. A leader in homeownership, foreclosure counseling, energy-efficiency and rental assistance programs, RUPCO is expanding its programmatic offerings throughout the Hudson Valley with the recent RDAC affiliation and urban revitalization projects in Newburgh, Saugerties, and Kingston. For more information, visit www.rupco.org.
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City of Kingston & RUPCO Promote Homeownership

Famille 2 enfants devant la maisonIs homeownership right for you? 

RUPCO is administering $350,000 in funding on behalf of the City of Kingston for first-time homebuyers within the City limits.

But to qualify for this program (and possibly others), you need to attend RUPCO’s HomeOwnership Center‘s first-time homebuyer workshops. If you are considering a house purchase in 2015, within or outside the City Limits, attend a one-hour orientation at The Kirkland, 2 Main Street, Kingston, at 6 p.m. Find a date on our schedule and register online  or call (845) 331-2140, ext. 220 for more information.

Two additional three-hour classes prepare you for the home purchase process. Many grants are available to cover expenses associated with down payments, closing costs, and post-closing rehabilitation. Get the answers you need to make the jump to homeownership in 2015.

Give Because Home Matters…

If you believe “Home Matters;” if you believe it’s important to have a place to hang your hat; if you believe in having a place to call “Home,” donate online today!