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The Rotary Club of White Plains is Club 5043, District 7230, Zone 32, Region USCB, Federal tax ID 13-6111471.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 1712, White Plains NY 10602.

Our "Foundation of the Rotary Club of White Plains" is tax exempt, New York State #219346, tax ID 13-6165380.

Website created August 2001.

The Rotary Club of White Plains was chartered October 1, 1919, charter number 540.

Slater Center Serves Public Housing Site

By: White Plains Times
Published: September 21, 2006

By Joshua Friesen

Heather Miller came to the United States from Jamaica with her three-year-old daughter and no intention of staying. However, as the school teacher visited her family and became acquainted with Westchester County, her plans changed. Unable to teach with her Jamaican credentials, she took a six-month typing and clerical class. Her second job was in downtown White Plains at the Thomas H. Slater Center. Now, after approximately 26 years of service, Heather Miller has taken helm of the center as executive director. In an interview with the White Plains Times, Miller remembered past years at the center (which primarily serves the neighboring Winbrook public housing complex), while looking toward its future.

Flyers on parent/child mediation, pamphlets on low-cost health insurance and domestic violence were displayed next to Black Enterprise magazine in the foyer of the Slater Center. Children in overalls, braids and smiling faces rushed through the walkways to their after-school programs, marking the end of summer hiatus. Miller came out of her office smiling as children flocked to her. Miller said the center “has always been a warm, welcoming and nurturing place.” She smiled warmly as she reminisced about working under the late Charlie Booth, the former executive director, who taught her “all facets” of the organization over the years.

Reflecting on when she first began work at the Slater Center, she said, “When the center opened 27 years ago, it could have gone in one of two directions. It could have run its own programs or let others come in and run them. We did the latter. The senior center came in, the boy scouts came in…it was jumping with programs.”

Miller continued, “In 1980, programs lost funding and went back to their parent’s base ” She shook her head mournfully. “When funding dried up, programs ran out. I really miss the senior program.” Currently, outside organizations such as Family Services of Westchester, the Boy Scouts of America and Narcotics Anonymous still bring programs to the center.

The Slater Center is financed primarily by the city of White Plains. Last year the center received grants from developer Louis Cappelli, New York Life Foundation, the White Plains Rotary, an anonymous source, and an additional community grant from the city of White Plains. These grants totaled approximately $50,000 and helped the Slater Center finance programs such as those in the chart at left.

Miller recalled memorable moments in the programs. When Jerome Robinson, director of the drum corps, died almost three years ago, his son Dane took over when he was only 16. Now Dane is 18 years old, a high school graduate, and will be attending college locally. Miller said of the drum corps, “They are the pride of White Plains!”

How do new programs develop? When a need presents itself. The Invest program began when middle school students started to “hang out” in the lobby of the Slater Center, Miller explained, with no current programsavailable them. Also, the children naturally gravitated towards the center’s program coordinator, Hassan Abdul Basheer, due to his steady presence in their lives growing up. Hence, the middle school program developed.

Miller also discussed the changing community of White Plains, noting that the demographics used to be densely African-American but now the Hispanic population is emerging. She explained, “Programs have changed to match the population such as adding ESL,” sponsored by Literacy Volunteers of Westchester.

As the demographics change, the Slater Center’s Board of Directors, comprised of 17 members—three of which are from the Winbrook public housing site—are discussing where the center will go in terms of programs.

When asked what Miller held as her favorite aspect of the Slater Center she responded, “I’m in love with this place. The children are my passion—they always have been. I tell people I have 100 children and now have grandchildren. I don’t shy away from working with kids who have needs. I take pride in all incremental progress and I give the same praise for the one who moves from a D in school to the one who moves from an A to an A+.”


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