Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Poughkeepsie Journal Covers Youth for Restoration

This picture was printed in the Poughkeepsie Journal on November 21st, 2012, showing Sophia Creanza, Viraj Kumar, and Antonio Creanza (from left to right) working on the clean-up of the Apoquague Friends' Cemetery.

Apoquague Friends' Meeting Burial Ground

For many years, every day on my way to school and back, I used to drive by this run-down cemetery right by my neighborhood. Cemeteries are always very interesting from a historical perspective, and this one seemed very ancient and clearly neglected, and I slowly started to wonder about its origins. Who had been buried there? And how long ago? I decided to look into it, and found that the cemetery was actually the Apoquague Friends' Burial Ground, an old Quaker cemetery. I sought out the town historian, and explored the cemetery myself, and after reading about the Beekman land grant, I found that the Apoquague Friends' Cemetery was established when the town was founded. The Apoquague Friends' Meeting Burial Ground has been around for over 200 years, and contains some of the first settlers of the Beekman land grant.

If the condition of this cemetery was improved the dynamics of our town could improve as well. I knew that projects like this would create a strong sense of community in the area and could improve the awareness of local historic sites.

The task of restoring the Apoquague Friends' Meeting Burial Ground originally began with a smaller group of individuals. We grew in size until a group of approximately forty people joined our cause.

For the first two meetings, the focus was on clearing the grounds of shrubbery, which grew during the time that the cemetery was neglected. The next step for us was to create awareness for our project. We were able to find many people eager to volunteer from Arlington High School. We first contacted and met with the Principal who was able to get us in contact with Arlington's Volunteer Club. We also went door-to-door to houses in the area, and contacted local businesses to see if they could help us. The businesses were very helpful, donating lots of refreshments and supplies for the volunteers.  Even the highway department helped us out by offering to pick up our trash bags on site and mulch a rotten felled tree for recycling.

From planning to completion, the project took us about 6 months. Most of the time was spent preparing the project by finding volunteers, collecting tools for the job, and meeting with the Town Historian, Mr. Thom Usher, and the Town Supervisor, Mr. Matt Kennedy.

The first and hardest part about our project was spreading the word about our mission in order to find volunteers. After preparing our clean-up we had to take on the actual task of cleaning the cemetery up. Once we had finished, after 4 weekends of hard work, we had removed a rotten tree and about a hundred full size garbage bags filled with shrubbery.  The rock wall surrounding the cemetery was reset, stone by stone.

In the wake of the success of this project, a few of the other volunteers and I realized that we could take this same idea further and restore even more precious historic landmarks.  It was then and there the idea to form Youth for Restoration was conceived.

- Viraj Kumar

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Youth for Restoration

Youth for Restoration is a youth-lead group located in the Hudson Valley, New York. We look to preserve and restore local historic sites.

Last year our mission was to clean up the Apoguague Friends' Meeting Burial Ground, at the corner of Noble Hill Dr. and Pleasant Ridge Rd. We worked on removing shrubbery, rotten trees, rebuilding the rock wall, and standing up the fallen headstones.

Our purpose in life is to preserve local historic sites to acknowledge the accomplishments of our town through donations from the community and local businesses. These businesses provided refreshments for the volunteers.

We are a group of 6 individuals who come together to restore local historic sites in the Hudson Valley area. We each are responsible for certain aspects of our current task (such as materials, fundraising, etc.) We plan and organize the projects, depending on volunteers to join us for the actual completion of the projects. We think that these projects are a great way for the community to come together and commemorate our area's history.