BY ROSS BELKSKY
Background: Mitch Karpp, 45, lives in Fresh Meadows where he was born and raised. He loves Queens for its hybrid of suburban Long Island feel and Manhattan hustle and bustle. The eclectic composition of the borough is something he also appreciates, and he feels every few blocks offers an all-encompassing sample of a different culture.
Occupation: Karpp is the program director of Youth and Camp Services at the Queens Central Y at 67-09 108th St. in Forest Hills. He joined the Y family in 1984 as a camper before becoming the teen director in 1994, and finally moved up to his current post in 2010. His decision to stick with the organization was based on the evolution of its challenges that both intrigued him and gave him an opportunity to experience branching out into the community.
Community Involvement: Along with the many traditional services offered by a local Y in New York, Mitch is instrumental in running four ongoing programs including Kidz Korner, the after-school establishment in which Karpp has watched former kids become future staff members. Karpp designs activities with the objective of instilling a sense of respect, such as scavenger hunts that require cooperative problem solving. Recently Kidz Korner ran an extremely successful coat drive for this particularly brisk winter, as well as a book fair to benefit local nursery schools, and a costume party to raise money for their renovated gymnasium. Karpp works extensively with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to ensure free after-school programming to over 160 kids, a major change from the prior fee for service program which only held 10 kids. In addition, Mitch’s efforts helped usher the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) decision to provide two free after-school service programs in Flushing. In the summers, Karpp runs the camp in Long Island which is part of his family’s legacy, as it was previously run by his father and brother.
Greatest Achievement: “When I was promoted to program director. My idea of the success of Kidz Korner transformed when I realized I could expand the program and work with directors from all over to influence the larger community by diversifying.”
Biggest Challenge: “Not knowing every director at first on a hands-on, personal basis. The day-to-day operations are sometimes disconnected, but somehow we have to correspond concurrently.”
Inspiration: “My older brother. I learned a lot about this job from him, like the fact that patience is paramount and to you have to treat people from all walks with an even level of respect.”
- Star of Queens: Marlene Smith-Sotillo, president and CEO, Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation International
- Star of Queens: Victoria Grappone, vice president, Maspeth Kiwanis
- Star of Queens: Khadjat Oluwo, disaster case manager, Metropolitan Council