Suffolk Nonprofits Partners to Expand New Arts Center for Veterinarians and People with Special Needs


Two Suffolk County nonprofits – RISE Life Services and The Spirit of Huntington – have come together to provide expanded services to veterans and people with special needs at the former South Huntington Public Library.

For the past eight years, The Spirit of Huntington has rented the building at 2 Melville Rd. In the South Huntington School District for its arts programs. Now, in partnership with RISE Life Services, they will purchase the 24,000 square foot facility and create new opportunities for individuals in the community. The reinvigorated arts center will be called Rise in Spirit Community Arts Center.

“Image: art, dance, music, mental health programs, an adult program – there will be a variety of services provided under one roof,” Charles Evdos, executive director of RISE Life Services, told a conference press release celebrating the new center inside the facility, adding that the expansion of services will create 52 new jobs.

Charles Evdos, executive director of RISE Life Services, left, and Michael Kitakis, executive director of Spirit of Huntington Art Center. (Photo by Briana Bonfiglio)

Michael Kitakis, executive director of the Spirit of Huntington Art Center, explained that Rise in Spirit will consist of three components: recreational, educational and professional services, stressing that the programs are inclusive – for people of all ages and abilities.

Leisure programs include yoga and dance activities on the first floor. North Shore Dance, a non-profit organization that offers dance and movement classes to diverse populations and also caters to all levels and ages, has its studio in the building.

Educational programs center around music and art, which The Spirit of Huntington has been hosting in the building for several years, as evidenced by the dozens of vibrant works of art that already line the walls of the facility. Professional Services will then take what students learn about drawing and painting and apply it to digital arts trades through a program called ArtWORKS.

A student of The Spirit of Huntington shows her work. (Photo by Briana Bonfiglio)

“We were able to take a model program that was taught at the college level and teach them that there are opportunities to achieve their dreams and get jobs,” Kitakis said. “This whole professional aspect is going to be incredible. “

RISE Life Services, which will operate on the second floor, will help with job training and other services that will fully open around Jan. 15, Evdos said.

The arts center will also expand its programming for veterans. Currently, The Spirit of Huntington offers virtual arts programs to veterans staying at Northport VA Medical.

The facility is located at 2, chemin Melville. in South Huntington. (Photo by Briana Bonfiglio)

“We are excited about the conversations that have taken place about how this facility can be used to serve those who have served us,” said Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Director. “When they get home, it is our job to serve them and make sure they have what they need so that they can return to the community and be able to thrive for the rest of their lives.”

Rise in Spirit executives said their goal is to continue to expand their offerings and serve as a community model that nonprofits across the state and country can adapt to help more veterans and veterans. people with special needs.

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William E. Bennett