St. Catherine’s Center for Children and SPAC School of the Arts Renew Summer Program Partnership

Contact: Santino R. Thomas
(518) 949-4809 |
[email protected]

ALBANY, N.Y. – Today, St. Catherine’s Center for Children and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s School of the Arts announced that they will partner, for the second year in a row, to offer children the opportunity to attend an arts and recreation summer camp.

In 2022, in the first year of this partnership, the summer camp program hosted 35 Capital Region children, including 20 from St. Catherine’s residential program which serves children who have been removed from their homes and have experienced significant trauma in their life. SPAC anticipates an increase in attendance this year through additional partnerships with Capital District Latinos, the Franklin Community Center, and the Saratoga Springs City School District.

“This partnership is wonderful for the children St. Catherine’s serves,” said Frank Pindiak, Executive Director of St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “The SPAC Arts and Parks camp allows us an opportunity to introduce our children to new possibilities. In some cases, this offering sparks an interest a child never knew they had; in other cases, we discover that the arts provide a coping mechanism for children dealing with the fallout of traumatic experiences. Either way, it’s a win-win scenario and we are thrilled to renew this partnership with SPAC.”

“SPAC’s mission for the past seven years has been to foster greater equity and access to enriching educational experiences and performances for individuals who are unable to participate,” said Dennis Moench, Vice President of Education at SPAC, “and we are grateful for our relationships with other non-profit organizations like St. Catherine’s who make these programs possible.”

This three-week, half-day summer program, offered in concert with New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, provides highly interactive arts education classes and recreational field trips to local state parks. Children in attendance will be introduced to a variety of art forms, including: acting, improv, dance, group ukulele, puppetry and visual art. The field trip portion of the program includes wilderness walks, guided nature activities, and hands-on environmental science lessons. This year, participants will visit Moreau Lake State Park, Thacher State Park, and of course, Saratoga Spa State Park. The camp runs June 26 through July 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“At St. Catherine’s, we aim to offer a variety of educational and recreational opportunities for our children,” said Molly Gruss, Recreation & Engagement Supervisor at St. Catherine’s. “The SPAC summer camp provides interactive opportunities that encourage our children to come out of their shells and find something they are passionate about. We are so grateful to Jess Bien and Dennis Moench for building this incredible program and we’re thrilled to continue our partnership.”

Members of the teams at both St. Catherine’s and SPAC agreed that the program proved successful for the children that attended, including a student who spent the first few days without speaking or participating. By the end of the program, that same student volunteered to perform a song for the camp that they had written during their time with the program. The song’s lyrics spoke directly to the child’s past experiences, the extreme challenges they faced, and how they overcame very difficult circumstances. The entire camp was in tears at the end of the performance, applauding in celebration of this incredible breakthrough as that child beamed with pride. The staff expressed its belief that this program allowed the child to find happiness again.

This summer program is funded by the New York State Parks “Connect Kids to Parks” grant program, as well as generous SPAC supporters Michael and Stacie Arpey. The SPAC School of the Arts is made possible with the generous support of Stewarts Shops and the Drake Family. St. Catherine’s Center for Children is able to provide experiences like this due to the generosity of many donors. To learn more about or become involved with St. Catherine’s Center for Children, visit: To learn more about SPAC School of the Arts and its summer program, visit:

The willingness of St. Catherine’s Center for Children to embrace change and develop new services is, and will remain, our guiding philosophy as we support human service needs, throughout the region, by providing a comprehensive range of services designed to offer hope, foster growth and improve the lives of the children, families and adults we serve. 

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 About SPAC Education

Each year, Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s education programs reach more than 50,000 individuals, offer more than 1,500 classes, presentations, performances, and events, and partner with more than 120 schools and non-profit organizations across the greater Capital Region. SPAC’s flagship educational offerings include the in-school “Classical Kids” music and dance program; in-school dance residencies with SPAC teaching artists; “Summer Nights at SPAC” program which provides transportation, meals, and free performance tickets to families from under-resourced communities; and its annual signature event “The Adirondack Trust Company Festival of Young Artists,” which celebrates hundreds of student dancers, singers, musicians, poets and visual artists. In 2020, SPAC’s education program created free online content for students, families and educators. The continuing virtual platforms include “The Festival of Young Artists Online Gallery” and “The SPAC Learning Library.” And in 2021, SPAC opened the SPAC School of the Arts – a year-round facility dedicated to providing music, theatre, and dance enrichment classes to students of all ages and abilities while furthering SPAC’s mission to facilitate inclusion, equity, and access in arts education. The SPAC School of the Arts operates out of the Lewis A. Swyer Studios on the National Museum of Dance campus.