JPC offers Community Development, Special Needs Housing, Nutrition, Recreation, Mentoring and Advocacy

Positive change continues at Johnson Park!

Chief Executive Officer Biography
History & Accomplishments

The Rev. Dr. Maria A. Scates, D.D., is the Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Park Center, (JPC) which means Join Positive Change!  She is formerly homeless and a veteran that is an advocate for the homeless, women, children and families. Rev. Dr. Scates is a visionary; she pioneered and led the way for positive change and revitalization in the Johnson Park community, which she loves and resides in. She co-founded HARK-HOMES, a shelter for the homeless in Harlem, New York and is the Founder of the Johnson Park Center; Cornhill-Utica an inner city community based organization. Through vision, dedication, commitment and hard work, Rev. Dr. Scates possesses considerable experience in working with minority women and children from dysfunctional families and operating various service programs for the poor and needy, including organization, leadership & management, supervision of staff, counseling, fundraising and development and property management.

Some of the Awards & Accomplishments that JPC & Rev. Dr. Scates have received:

  • In year 2007 – The Bobby Page III Community Service Award through the "Robert Esche Save of the Day Foundation".
  • In year 2008 – "Upstate Supportive Housing Residence of the Year" by the Supportive Housing Network of New York.
  • In year 2009 – the "Community Impact Award" from the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties.
  • In year 2011 – Rev. Dr. Scates received an "Honorary Doctorate of Divinity" from Colgate University.
  • In year 2011 – Rev. Dr. Scates received the Genesis Group "Joseph R. Carucci Community Appreciation Award.
  • In year 2012 – JPC and Resource Living of Independent Living (RCiL) received the American with Disabilities (ADA) 22nd Anniversary Proclamation Award from the City of Utica.
  • In year 2013 – Rev. Dr. Scates received the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) "2013 Treva Wood Community Activist Award' at the MVCAA Champions Luncheon on May 9th, 2013.

With much support, JPC developed a comprehensive strategy to effectively serve the community through its five focus area, Special Needs Housing, Nutrition, Recreation, Mentoring & Advocacy and Community Development:

1. JPC have currently owns 41 properties in Johnson Park with a total of 33 apartments in the Johnson Park Apartments Low-Income Safe and Supportive Housing Program called JPA. The program is for homeless mothers and their children and for chronically homeless single women without children who have special needs. Eight apartments are Green LEED Certified.  JPC is a City of Utica Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO).

2. JPC started Oneida County's first family shelter with 18 beds where traditional and non-traditional low-income, homeless families can stay together during a crisis, regardless of their composition.

3. The JPC Youth Program - Drop-In Enrichment Center, with a playground and basketball court that offers wholesome recreational and educational activities for neighborhood youth that provide the necessary discipline to enable youth to strive and achieve positive life goals.

4. The Youth Center offers leadership development training for youths age 9 to 14. The Youth Voice Initiative encourages and trains young people to speak up and be leaders and positive role models. The Youth Voice Initiative encourages other youth not to use tobacco, illegal drugs, or alcohol and to resist crime and youth violence.

5. Food/nutrition programs for youth, families and seniors are helping stop hunger and food insecurity in the inner city and provide the next step to self-sufficiency. The youth center served over 10,000 nutritious meals to children and adults each year.

6. At the JPC Food Pantry we average 180 families per month, many who are the "working poor", handing out staple food for three days. Yearly, we sponsor a large free food give-a-way event in July with approximately 400 households, many present to receive additional food to ease the pain of poverty.

7. The JPC children and adults learn how to grow fruits and vegetables at the JPC Let's Grow Community Garden, which has its annual garden wake up and harvest festival to top of the season. All participants can take home fresh vegetables and various teaching components are integrated to coach healthy eating habits.

8. JPC provides transportation services for youth and families.

9. JPC provides ongoing advocacy, mentoring/life coaching, and focuses and support groups, for Cornhill community residents.

10. JPC provides an on-site operations development specialist program that reaches out to strengthen families & single women individual lives, build personal/Life & Home-Management Living Skills, the 2nd Chance Job Club Program and to prevent Individuals & Family Violence and Neglect.

11. JPC played a key role in the revitalization of Johnson Park itself, and is an anchor for the Cornhill neighborhood. JPC has secured millions of dollars in grants from public and private sources, as well as in-kind support for its various projects. The agency has created strong partnerships with a wide range of government agencies, banks, foundations, and non-profit agencies to implement its community-based services and community development programs.

12. Parallel to the not-for-profit work, JCTOD Church was incorporated as the Lord Jesus Christ Tabernacle of David, Inc. with the Seed of Hope Ministry as an Outreach Program.

All of the programs of JPC are long-term and will run continually on an annual basis.