Charles Settlement House hits century

Local News

Charles Settlement House in Rochester is celebrating 100 years of serving our community in 2017.

President Scott Benjamin and Board Member Dorothy Pecoraro discussed the milestone and the continued mission of Charles Settlement House Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“I think it’s amazing to have a neighborhood-based organization for a hundred years,” said Benjamin. “We’re really carrying on a mission that began a hundred years ago, and we’re still doing it today in the same neighborhoods. It’s a great legacy.”

Benjamin said the mission of Charles Settlement House has remained consistent, even as programs have evolved over the years. “Our four main areas are youth developments, we have after school and teen programs, family services, which really is meeting basic needs of people in poverty with food, clothes, and transportation. There’s a seniors center that is open to people of all abilities and backgrounds and economic statuses, again from northwest Rochester. All of our services are in the northwest quadrant of the city. Then there’s neighborhood capacity building. We are involved with affordable housing. We work with block clubs, and we try to make a difference in those neighborhood where we are.”

Percoraro’s family utilized the services of Rochester’s Settlement Houses long before she became a Board Member. She is a self-described “Settlement Kid” who knows first hand the value the houses have provided through the decades. “I certainly am,” said Pecoraro proudly. “Many decades ago, I lived on the east side, although I’m working with Charles House on the west side, which was a new beginning for me. The settlement houses came about in the early 1900’s. Ours was 1917. It was to help our immigrants. My family was very involved on the east side with Louis Street Center at the time. It’s now under the umbrella of another organization on the east side, the Community Place in Rochester. I as a child went every day after school to leadership development on how to be a good friend, and how to do good service. I became a drama person and we danced. We had wonderful things that opened an array that some of us were not going to get at home. To make people self-sufficient and more aware of their environment, and what’s available to them, came to me though — at that point — the Louis Street Center. Also, my father attended it. He played basketball and did the normal teenage stuff before he went off to work. My grandparents, because they were immigrants, learned English there so they could take their Citizenship Exam, and then have a family such as we have, surviving, thriving and having a wonderful time in America.”

Charles Settlement House will hold its 100 year celebration party on October 25 at the Diplomat Banquet Center. “We have a national speaker, Susan Dreyfus, who is considered one of the top fifty people in the entire non-profit human services sector,” said Benjamin of the planned celebration. “She is going to be talking about how organizations like ours make an impact on individuals, and what we have to do as a community and nation to help people reach their full potential. That’s really what Settlement Houses do. We’re place-based from youth to seniors doing what it takes to support people and really give them the avenues of opportunity so they can make the most out of their lives.”

For more information about the 100 year anniversary celebration and services provided by Charles Settlement House, click here.

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