Federal funds granted to Patchogue nonprofit

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Patchogue-Medford Youth and Community Services has received a dose of federal funds, allowing the nonprofit organization to continue counseling local at-risk students and parents.

The Brookhaven Town Board passed a resolution on Aug. 28 to accept $31,000 in community block grant funds from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program that focuses on anti-poverty and community infrastructure projects.

Shawn Hirst, executive director of Patchogue's community services, welcomed the federal funds this week in light of drastic budget cuts from other programs the organization depended upon in recent years. "We are thrilled of any government funding," Hirst said. "This has been a steady stream of money, and we're able to help a lot of children and parents in need."

Hirst said the organization has received the community block grant funds since 2008, which allows it to help counsel about 4,000 parents and youths between the ages of 5 and 21 each year.

"They are an asset," village Mayor Paul Pontieri said Wednesday of the group, adding programs such as community services help care for children.

The organization was created in 1982 and primarily serves several after-school programs for students of South Ocean and Saxton middle schools and Patchogue-Medford High School, officials said.

Community services has several recreational programs such as guitar lessons and plans to start a dance program. The group also collects clothes for the less fortunate.

Officials say the skills the students and parents learn should enable them to make healthy choices throughout their lives.

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