In 1907 a contribution of 5.7 acres of land and an endowment fund was made by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage the widow of financier Russell Sage to establish the Margaret Sage Industrial School. Sage was inspired by Silvie Lord wife of Daniel Lord a prominent New York City attorney. Mrs. Lord served as the first President of the school. The institution was designed, particularly, to meet the problems of the second generation of Inwood’s immigrant populations consisting mainly of Albanians, Italians, and Greeks.
This school later became known as the Nassau Industrial Arts Trade School. It was founded as a training Center for the increasing population of Inwood and North Lawrence which introduced woodwork, masonry, and cooking, sewing and other classes that gave many local residents a valuable introduction to building trades and providing useful skills.
A larger building was constructed to provide facilities and equipment for enabling boys and girls of all ages to find and put into practice any useful and constructive abilities.
The activities of the settlement came to include a Nursery School, a Kindergarten, Story-Acting Groups, Game groups, cooking classes, sewing classes, Workshop classes, Handicraft classes, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Cub and Brownie Packs, Mothers Club, Social and Athletic Clubs, Gymnasium, Circulating Library, Concert Band, Dramatics, Dances, Group singing, Playground, Day Camp and classes in Italian, English and Citizenship.
Then the Nassau Industrial School name was changed in 1942, to Five Towns Community House and the agency joined the Settlement House Movement. A new society was being mandated by the passage of Economic Opportunity (Anti-Poverty) Act in 1964. This Act Allowed the Establishment of community based agencies to help fight the war on poverty.
Therefore, in 1965 the Economic Opportunity Council for the Five Towns Inc., was opened in another part of the community, with the advent of the Economic Opportunity Act, Project ABC (A Better Community) that was formed and began as the Community Action Program. This office opened in Inwood since a demonstrated need was greater here than in any of the other Five Towns. Which soon after came the Head Start Program first opened as the Summer Head Start Program which is now our Head Start Child Development Center.
Services then expanded in the fall with a social work unit and a community organization department which pointed up the need for an adult education department such as the Inwood Senior Center. The community organization department organized neighborhood boards’ welfare improvement groups and dealt with the Inwood Urban Renewal Project.
The Economic Opportunity Council was faced with the possibility of discontinuance of funds in 1968, the possibility of a merger was discussed between Boards of Directors of both agencies.
In 1969, The Five Towns Community Center House, Inc. and Economic Opportunity Council for the Five Towns, Inc. merged to become the Five Towns Community Center, Inc. and was established as a multi-service anti-poverty agency servicing the Five Towns Community. A new building was constructed in the early 1970s.
In 1986, The Aid to the Foreign Born (Bilingual) Department became funded by the Town of Hempstead which deals with services for the people who were born outside of the United States who need assistance because of language and other barriers.
Then followed our Committee on Drug Abuse (CODA) which deals with treatment, education and prevention of drug abuse; and funding from the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency (LEAA) to assist youngsters with serious problems stemming from school problems, public problems, court or juvenile delinquency involvement.
Later, the HIV/STI Program was funded in 1996 by the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute. Program now named Health & Prevention Services (HPS).
In 2018, Sasha Young founded Gammy’s Dream in honor of her grandmother Betty “Gammy” Young. Sasha says as she reminisces, “No matter what we needed she always had it in her pantry.” Gammy passed away on Christmas 2018. The FTCC joined hands with Ms. Young bringing Gammy’s Pantry to the center in 2019 to advance Betty Young’s vision of making the world just a little brighter for us all. In 2020, the pantry then entered partnership with Long Island Cares.
Today this agency the Five Towns Community Center, Inc., continues to be a Multi-Service anti-poverty operation, servicing over 15,000 clients of the Five Towns community and peripheral areas in various capacities.