For 33 years, Jim Tinger and his partners at the New Paltz Youth Program have been nothing short of a pillar for multiple generations of kids who have grown up in the town of New Paltz and the surrounding area.
Widely referred to as the ‘teen scene’ by local school district students, the New Paltz Youth Program has provided nearly everything the hearts of the youth desire for three decades. From tutoring for struggling students and mental health services, to field trips and video game tournaments, the range of services this program offers for the youth of our small town is nothing short of spectacular.
Just about every type of person frequents the Youth Program, no matter their interests. Whether it be playing basketball or computer games, the teen scene is simply the place to be for the vast majority of sixth to 12th graders. If not for these resources and the constant selfless work on the part of Tinger as the director of the program and his staff, many middle and high schoolers who’ve frequented the youth program over the years would not nearly be the same people. They would have significantly fewer opportunities in life to make new friends and step out of their comfort zone at such a young age.
While going into detail of life lessons and his journey in New Paltz, Tinger began at the very start of his adventure as he came to the Hudson Valley area for an education. “I moved up here from Long Island in 1992 when I was 21 years old, and I’ve been up here ever since. I went up here to go to college. I transferred from a community college as well out in Long Island,” Tinger said. “I was up here, then I went to school here and I got the job in ‘94, doing a couple of programs. Then I started running the youth center in ‘95 and took over as the director of the program.”
This past Halloween, the Youth Center built and held its 28th annual haunted house special at their Main Street location down the block from the New Paltz Middle School. The New Paltz Youth Program regularly provides opportunities for students who are looking for community service and/or are looking to gain knowledge and experience in counseling youth and crisis management.
Tinger spoke about if he thought he’d impact so many lives in New Paltz at the beginning of his career. “Well no, of course not. I had no idea. I was happy to do something. I didn’t know what I was doing, so it was cool to find something I found fun. I really was looking for something that wasn’t the same every day. I get bored pretty easily and if I could do it and help people like that was certainly a selling point for me,” Tinger said. “I was a kid at 22 or 23 with long hair and didn’t really know what I wanted except to work with people and to do something different. So I was happy that I had something that seemed to have an impact. It’s funny cause I didn’t really realize I was having an impact until much later on when people would tell you, ‘you know you really had an impact on me.’”
On Saturday, Nov. 29, they will be holding a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Redeemer Church not far outside of the Village of New Paltz. There is a registration fee of $29 and the deadline for sign-ups is on Tuesday, Nov. 22, visit newpaltzyouthprogram.org for more information.