In a touching display of gratitude and community spirit, The Neighborhood Center’s Outreach & Prevention Program recently assembled and delivered 77 care packages to the officers of the Utica Police Department. This initiative not only reflects the program’s commitment to fostering community ties but also highlights the lasting impact of its programs on the lives of young people.

On June 14th at 4:00 PM, Utica Police Department’s Officer Felix Santana and Officer Jimmy Dongsavanh, visited The Neighborhood Center to receive the care packages, which were thoughtfully put together by the children involved in the Outreach & Prevention Program. Each package was carefully assembled to provide a token of appreciation for the officers’ service and dedication to the community.  The packages contained drawings and cards, thanking police officers for their service.

This event holds special significance as both Officer Felix Santana and Officer Jimmy Dongsavanh attended the Outreach & Prevention Program. Reflecting on his time at The Neighborhood Center, Officer Santana shared how the program provided him a safe haven during his youth. “I had amazing experiences at The Neighborhood Center.  They took us to all sorts of places – swimming lessons, trips the fair. The Neighborhood Center kept me out of trouble. They taught me a lot of new things.  I learned how to bake,” said Santana. Now, as a police officer, he continues to serve and protect the same community that once supported him.

The Neighborhood Center’s Outreach & Prevention Program is dedicated to engaging young people in meaningful community service projects. Over the past year, the program’s participants have collectively completed 850 volunteer hours, making a tangible difference in their community. These projects not only benefit the local community but also instill a sense of purpose and empowerment in the youth, showing them that they have the ability to effect positive change.


“Seeing the children come together to create these care packages for our police officers is incredibly heartwarming,” said Jennifer Benn, Director of Development and Public Relations at The Neighborhood Center. “It’s moments like these that remind us of the profound and lasting impact our programs can have. When we hear alumni, like Felix, share how The Neighborhood Center influenced their lives, it’s a powerful testament to the work we do here.”


The mission of The Neighborhood Center, Inc. is to enrich the lives of individuals and families through cooperative opportunities, resources and advocacy which embrace diversity, promote empowerment, and foster responsible citizenship.  Through its sustained pattern of activities that benefit children, families and the community since 1905, The Neighborhood Center, Inc. continues to advance in our enduring mission of truly “human” service.