Snapshot of a January Day

Though we are closed to the public for the winter, behind-the-scenes our whirlwind of activity rivals the busiest summer months! For a sneak peek of the building improvements, new programming, partnerships already underway, and volunteer opportunities for 2020, read this month’s column, “Snapshot of a January Day.”

Snapshot of a January Day

To give a preview of the season ahead, and the many loving hands that are helping to prepare for it, we don’t have to look any farther than a single calendar day. Here’s what my Monday, January 13th looked like.

9:30 AM Arrive to Co-Work Kingston

The Reher Center is so grateful to Co-Work Kingston for offering us a comfortable command post (with bathrooms!) this winter.

10 AM Phone Call with the New York State Council on the Arts

This particular call was about a grant to fund the purchase of props and materials to furnish our Retail Shop ca 1959 in preparation for our new season of Historic Bakery Tours. If you’re interested in getting involved (helping to reproduce period cans, boxes, and more!), please contact Thanks to our marvelous neighbors and volunteers, BC Gee and Margie Verghese for heading-up this project!

Grant-writing has been a central part of our work this fall and winter, and our efforts have already borne fruit:

  • Arts Mid-Hudson will support our 8th Annual Kingston Multicultural Festival, which will be held in TR Gallo Park on June 14h this year;
  • The Louis Greenspan Charitable Trust supports the expansion of our programming;
  • The City of Kingston’s Participatory Budgeting Allocation will help fund a part-time Educator who will focus on youth and family programs from April-November (Preview and circulate that job posting, which we will interview for in early March!);
  • Humanities New York will help fund our Sewing in Kingston exhibition and public program series, starting in May.

We are awaiting word from submitted grants as well to fund improved building signage, developing K-12 programming during the 2020-2021 school year, and the capital improvements that would activate our entire property for programming.

11 AM Touch Base with Babs about the Kingston Multicultural Festival

Babs Mansfield is technically a part-time “Consultant” at the Reher Center, but her creativity touches nearly every aspect of the project. This day, Babs and I discussed the expanded role of Radio Kingston as a partner for this year’s Kingston Multicultural Festival, as well as our progress with matching up culturally-specific food vendors to cultural non-profits. Our goal is to incentivize for-profit vendors and non-profit partners to work together, and also to offer more diverse food options at this year’s festival! Can’t you already taste the Jerk Chicken and German Sausages? Have ideas of cultural organizations or food vendors in the region who we should reach out to this year? Contact us at!

1 PM Meet with volunteer Karen Levine For Database Help

The Reher Center started as a volunteer “steering committee” within the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, but we are now a distinct entity that is fiscally sponsored by the Federation, and just a few rubber stamps away from being our own non-profit. Along with our independence comes all kinds of new opportunities to set up administrative and governance systems that suit us and our values. While much of this work is falling on our mighty Board, we are lucky to have volunteers like Karen who is helping to set up and clean up the contacts in the Reher Center’s database. Got skills you’d like to share in this department? Contact us! (Bet you know where.)

1:30 PM Meet with volunteer Elie Massias About Gallery Floors

Our Buildings and Grounds Committee convened in mid-January and created a list of priorities for improvements to the Gallery and grounds that we will make before re-opening in May. These include everything from improved lighting in the Gallery to improved directional signage on the building, to replacing the pavers in the courtyard, to outlining our plans for the addition of bathrooms. One of these tasks is to replace some of the split and soft floorboards in our Gallery. I reached out to Elie Massias to ask for his help with the floorboards project. Luckily, he said “yes!” Want to join our all-star Buildings and Grounds squad?!

3 PM Phone Call with Dr. Andy Battle and Ward Mintz about Sewing in Kingston

The research for Sewing in Kingston: Home, Factory, and Tradition, the exhibition, public program series, and First Saturday pop-up series that will open at the Reher Center Gallery in May, has taken Ward and I to the homes and workplaces of owners and employees from Kingston’s many garment factories past and present, has sent us searching through the digital pages of archived Kingston Daily Freeman articles, tracing names through phone books and census records, and helped us to dig up some remarkable stories.

Along the way, we have benefited from the insights of several advisors, including Dr. Andy Battle, an historian who specializes in the history of New York’s garment industry and, especially, the history of “Runaway Factories” (those that stopped manufacturing in New York City in the mid-20th century, and instead contracted production out to factories in places like Kingston and Eastern Pennsylvania where labor was less expensive.) In addition to his guidance behind-the-scenes, Dr. Battle will offer an essay as part of the exhibition catalogue and a public lecture in the fall to show how Kingston’s story fits into larger patterns within the industry and economic changes in the country at large. Keep up to date with our progress for Sewing in Kingston and our entire upcoming program season by signing up for our Breadcrumbs newsletter and if you’d be interested in helping us to get the word out or staff these events, please do reach out…!

4 PM Send Thank Yous and Catch up on Emails


The Reher Center’s physical structure, programming, and institutional infrastructure are all growing so beautifully thanks to the community-builders who are investing their time and skills.

In the months ahead, as we continue to define our needs for the upcoming season, we will be sending invitations for specific volunteer days to help with crafting, laboring, archiving, and more. There’s a place at this table for all of us!