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Coddington welcomes fall season

Coddington Road Community Center in Ithaca, New York held their annual Fall Festival on Oct. 28. Children and families participated in games and other activities run by volunteers while the community center’s staff highlighted the next steps in the organization’s growth.

What is Coddington?

Heather Mount, Executive Director of Coddington Road, said the organization’s primary focus at this time is childcare. The community center hosts childcare from 8 weeks to five years old, an after school program for kids ages 5-12, and summer camp “Camp Coddington” for children from Kindergarten age to 14 years old.

“We are a community center, but we’ve been full-up with childcare programming for quite some time,” Mount said. “We are in the process of expanding and when we’re done we will not only double the size of the childcare program that we have but also will add the capacity and flexibility for more community general interest.”

Despite the limited space in programming, Coddington Road holds community events on a regular basis to engage the public. Mount said Coddington holds Red Cross training classes on babysitting certification, and hopes to host open gym nights and meeting spaces after the expansion.

“Certainly having 4-H or even Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, those are programs that we used to have back when we had a little bit more space,” Mount said. “But as childcare has taken over we have not had the flexibility to make our spaces available for that anymore.”

Adelaide, 9, and Vincent, 6, show off the rabbits they raise as members of 4-H club, “Little Bunny Foo Foo”, at Fall Fest. Emma Kersting/Ithaca Week

Rae Hesler is an Ithaca College senior and has been going to Coddington with her sister since she was five years old. Hesler said she enjoys seeing children come to the community center and participate in the programming.

“I’m born and raised in Ithaca and I go to Ithaca College so it’s something that’s always been here,” Hesler said. “I’ve been working with Coddington on and off over the years depending on college and where I am, other jobs. I’ve been with them for a while, it’s great!”

Hesler went to Camp Coddington as a counselor in training when she was in middle school, and returned again for the Fall Festival.

“It’s a great organization, you can donate to it, you can work here – we’re always looking for volunteers – and it’s nice working with kids,” Hesler said.” Working with kids has been very beneficial; you get to watch them grow up, it’s really nice.

Games are set up and ready for children to participate in at Fall Festival on Coddington Road. Emma Kersting/Ithaca Week

Fall Festival

Mount said the Fall Festival is the longest running community event that Coddington Road Community Center has hosted, and that when the community center first opened, the Fall Festival was one of the biggest events put on.

“The Fall Festival has a tendency to primarily be an opportunity for us to open up our property with a fun family friendly event that’s lowkey, with games, that kind of thing, and really just inspires community,” Mount said. “There is a fundraising component to it, but our goal with this event is not to generate a lot of revenue but more so to have an opportunity to enjoy being in the community together.”

Jennifer Dean, Community Programs Manager of Coddington Road, is the main organizer of the Fall Festival. Mount said that Dean chooses the date, what activities will be available, and finds volunteers to help work at the event.

“One of [Dean’s] primary functions is to look for opportunities for us to engage with the community, whether its collaboration with other organizations, participation in groups and meetings, or coordinating this type of event,” Mount said.

Model of Coddington Road Community Center expansion. Courtesy of Heather Mount.

Looking beyond the Fall Festival, Mount said she has big expectations for the future of the community center following the renovations taking place.

“The expansion is the most exciting project that we have going on right now, it will double the capacity of the center and improve our facilities a great deal,” Mount said. “We’re eager to share that expansion with the community and develop additional collaborations after that’s done.”

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