After 10 years at 'Nabe,' Singleton
...MORRISTOWN - After 10 years at the helm of the Neighborhood House, Executive Director Sam Singleton is leaving to become executive director of the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club in New York.
Singleton's last day at the Neighborhood House
, a nonprofit organization that serves a diverse population of children with a number of programs, is Feb. 28.That same day, Singleton
, 58, will officially take his
post at the Boys and Girls Club
new responsibilities will be overseeing a roughly $20 million expansion in Harlem and the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, as well as an $8.5 million budget.
The club serves the needs of city youth in need of educational services, development programs and employment opportunities.
Singleton leaves behind a nonprofit organization with a $3 million budget and more than 1,000 children enrolled in programs ranging from basketball to preschool child care.
"Am I sad?"Singleton
said recently."Of course.This has been the best job I've ever had in my entire life."
With Singleton's departure, the organization's 26-member board of directors has formed a search committee to find a new executive director.
"We're searching for someone as dedicated and as vigorous as Sam
was.We need to fill his
shoes with somebody that can deliver." The Neighborhood House
, or "Nabe," as it is sometimes referred to, was founded 103 years ago as a community center for Italian immigrants.
Over time, the clientele morphed from Italians to African-Americans, and now primarily services the town's Latino community.In many ways, the Nabe has symbolized the changing face of town.
That message, Singleton
and others said, has evolved for more than a century.
Cunningham, now in his 80s, is a fan of Singleton's
symbolized the kind of individual who returned to his
roots with a determination to make things better.He
knew the neighborhood.He
knew the need."
As for his
wishes more people would contribute financially to the Neighborhood House
, particularly those who grew up in the various programs.He
also said the organization should get more financial support from government on the state and local level.
As recently as this month, $100,000 in expansion aid for the organization's child-care programs was cut out of the state budget by Gov.
"They talk a big game about diversity, but in reality if you are in the No. 1 affluent county in America, that suggests that people want to keep it that way," Singleton
That said, Singleton
added that several efforts to expand in recent years have been unsuccessful.They included an attempt to use the former George Washington School
, now a site for a townhouse development.
Though there are pages left blank, "I hope that people will say, ‘He came back to Morristown and made the Neighborhood House bigger than it's ever been,'" Singleton
said."And that (I) left it … in good hands." Singleton's
leadership of the group is embedded in the way the 6-foot-4-inch man was raised.The son of a Methodist minister, Singleton's mother ran Naomi's House of Elegance on Speedwell Avenue in Morristown.
"My father (Sam Sr.) was a minister," Singleton
said."And my mother (Evelyn) was extremely involved.They were always active in the community."
The first two years on the job, Singleton
mother "every day."He
added, "For those two years, every major decision was hers."
After playing basketball on the same floor as youngsters do today, Singleton
starred at Morristown High School
and went on to play at the University of Nebraska at Omaha
In 1968, he
was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, a then-new team in the National Basketball Association
Though things didn't work out on the court, Singleton
found himself playing for the Trenton Colonials of the Eastern Professional Basketball League
played with Bob McAdoo before going back to school. In 1974, Singleton graduated from the Omaha campus with a bachelor's degree in adult education.
After spending nearly 20 years in theprivate sector in human resources, Singleton
returned to his
"I made up my mind," Singleton
said."The Neighborhood House would come back to what it truly represented."
Perhaps that's best understood when looking at the basketball court on a recent Wednesday night.There, youngsters between the ages of 7 and 9 comprise myriad cultures, from black to Latino to Chinese and white.