North Colonie Kids Visit Border to See Poverty Up-Close

By Fenwick Jolsen

Published March 16th, 2014

The wrong side of the tracks in South Colonie, North Colonie's under-privileged neighbor.

LOUDONVILLE — Timmy McCormick thought every kid lived in a half-million dollar home and was given a BMW upon receiving their driver’s license.

But thanks to a new program called My Neighbor’s Keeper established by the Loudonville Ecumenical Temple, McCormick and other North Colonie teens are receiving a first-hand look at life outside their tony upper-income suburban world.

“Kids need to be aware of the world outside their own experience,” said program director Jane Hope. “Poverty is real. That’s why we wanted to bring them to the border. So they can see what life is like for children in South Colonie.”

McCormick said he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I saw kids driving used cars — like, I mean, Hyundais,” McCormick said. “And then there were the human rights abuses: Kids were actually cutting their own yards. Their families couldn’t afford landscapers. And some houses… some houses, didn’t have central-air conditioning. And did you know that 93-percent of the kids in South Colonie can’t even afford Hifilger.”

Hilbert “Hilly” Langston Jr., 17, was as equally shocked.

“Yeah, we mock the South Colonie kids a lot; call them trashy and things like that, but I don’t think any of us really knew how bad they have it,” Langston said. “For instance, some kids in South Colonie have part-time jobs? What’s up with that?”

It’s reactions like these that Hope said she was looking for when she proposed the My Neighbor’s Keeper project.

“It’s important our kids know how well they have it,” said Hope. “I’m not saying anyone should cross into South Colonie to explore alone. Oh God no. But under a tightly secured chaperoned trip such as ours, I think South Colonie can teach us a lot about what life is like for the underprivileged.”


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