By Mary Stadnyk | News Editor
A change in management and a new name is on the horizon for the Martin House Learning Center in Trenton.
The learning center, which was built in 1995 and has been an entity of the Diocese of Trenton under the auspices of the Martin House Foundation, will become an operation of the Catholic Youth Organization of Mercer County effective Aug. 27. The new facility name will change from the Martin House Learning Center to the CYO East State Street Center.
The change is part of an overall transition currently in process for Martin House, which began with the announced retirement of the agency’s long-time executive director, Father Brian McCormick, and the mutual decision by the diocese and the Martin House Foundation Board of Trustees for the agency to continue independent of diocesan sponsorship. The board has since determined that it will dedicate its efforts to continuing and developing its housing-based programs, prompting the agency to look for another entity that would be willing to take over the learning center and continue the essential services in the Wilbur section of Trenton. The board approached the CYO given that the CYO operates similar programs for the communities it serves.
“CYO is uniquely qualified to undertake this transition,” said John Slapp, Martin House Foundation board chair. “Both Martin House and CYO were originally established by the Catholic Diocese of Trenton and the similarity of our missions, programs and make-up of the population served makes it an obvious choice.”
As for building logistics, Thomas Mladenetz, CYO executive director, said the learning center building, which is located at 794 East State Street and owned by the diocese, will be leased to the CYO for $1 a year. In turn, the diocese is “giving” the building that houses the Martin House thrift shop located at 802-804 East State Street to the Martin House Foundation. The foundation will then move its administrative offices from the learning center to the 802-804 site, where it will focus on its mission of providing affordable housing, along with operating its thrift store and Doorway to Hope Program, which provides single mothers with housing and life skills assistance, enabling them to become self sufficient.
Mladenetz appreciates the sense of support and cooperation that the Martin House Foundation has shown toward the new CYO endeavor. He is grateful to the foundation for its generous gift of $20,000 that’s earmarked to provide scholarship assistance for youngsters to attend the learning center’s various programs, which include a pre-school program for three- and four-year-olds and an after-school program for children ages five to 12. Other learning center activities include a longtime Boy Scout troop, team basketball leagues and computer skills and English as a Second Language classes.
Mladenetz said that the $20,000 scholarship was created in recognition of Father McCormick and his more than 40 years of service to Martin House and the people of the Wilbur community.
In addition to the $20,000, the Martin House Foundation is also providing another $10,000 for CYO “start-up” expenses for furnishings and other needed supplies.
Regarding the hiring of new CYO center staff, Mladenetz said he has conducted nearly 30 interviews and expects that 90 percent of the CYO staff will be comprised of current and former Martin House Learning Center employees.
“The CYO is thrilled for the opportunity to expand our services in the City of Trenton and we are committed to serving the people of the Wilbur section,” said Mladenetz. “We want to continue the fine tradition of service that has been provided there for so many years and building on the foundation that Father Brian laid so many years ago.”