Ridgewood nonprofit aims to teach community service to local teens, young adults

Ridgewood Youth Power Group coordinators work with young people in the community to make a positive impact on their lives. (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Youth Power Group)

Ridgewood Youth Power Group coordinators Chris Sanchez and Tania Damiano have always had an interest in community service since they were young. Their passion has led them to help turn the Ridgewood Youth Power Group into a place that will build the youth of tomorrow.

“Chris and I went to a high school that really promoted community service and [gave] us ideas of what we wanted to do as adults [and] what careers we wanted to follow,” Damiano said.

Located at 60-37 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood, the nonprofit looks to work with teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14 to 25 and teach them the importance of community service work.

”I know that many youth when they do these things have a better understanding of how the community works,” Sanchez said. “When we gave breakfast to the local precinct in Bushwick a couple of months ago, and we had to talk to the youth, you know that our police are out there [to] help us out, to protect us.” 

The community group was founded in 2020 during the pandemic and has since helped many young people get involved in activities and community work.

“A lot of the youth that we deal with kind of come from broken homes or don’t have an education or don’t have any aspirations and life, and I think getting them involved in a community group or a youth group really helps them expand,” Damiano said.

Sanchez says that activities are centered around a different theme each month that every branch follows.

Kids participating in the annual dance festival. (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Youth Power Group)

“Each month is always a theme that we follow across the state,” Sanchez said. “Sometimes in the spring, we do park cleanups; some months, we do cultural events, like skits and people that are in drama, people that want to expose the songs out in the theater.”

During their YPG Soccer tournament, which took place in November, the youths got together to play soccer, with each of the branches representing a different country. January’s theme was a dance festival, where children could participate in various cultural dances.

The Ridgewood Youth Power Group is a smaller branch of a larger entity. There are currently 21 branches in New York, with and the Ridgewood branch is one of the community group’s Spanish branches.

Currently, the Ridgewood branch has 13 youths involved in the program that meets every Sunday. The community group hopes to expand as the year progresses and gets more local youths involved.