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home : features : catholic schools

3/16/2017 9:00:00 AM
ST. CATHERINE'S CENTER, ALBANY
One room for a child in need, made by three Yusko brothers
ONE OF THE Yusko brothers at work, and the finished product.
ONE OF THE Yusko brothers at work, and the finished product.
BY KATHLEEN LAMANNA
STAFF WRITER

In October, an 11-year-old boy named Ethan got a new room at Byron House, thanks to the Yusko brothers.

Byron House, an Albany residential group home for children, is part of St. Catherine's Center for Children, a human services organization for kids and families coping with abuse, neglect, mental illness, homelessness or trauma. St. Catherine's serves about 2,000 children and families per year.

Jeff Yusko, 38, and his brothers Tim, 36, and Bryan, 40, volunteered for the center's Makeover for Kids program, creating a basketball-themed room for Ethan.

"It seemed like it wasn't a lot of effort for something that the kids would really like," Jeff told The Evangelist.

Jeff Yusko's wife, Jackie, is deputy director of programs for St. Catherine's; he cited her as being the inspiration for the siblings' efforts.

"My wife puts a lot into her work," Mr. Yusko said. "All of the staff [at St. Catherine's] really care."

The brothers planned out their design for the room about a month in advance, scheduling the time out so all three could work together on the project.

Tim Yusko is a corrections officer, while Bryan works for the Office of General Services for New York State. Jeff works for Beacon Health Options. Though the trio all live within 30 minutes of each other, "I can count on one hand the amount of times a year we all get together," Mr. Yusko said.

Teaming up for the project was an added bonus, he said.

All three brothers bought houses in the past few years, and "my brothers and I are somewhat handy," Mr. Yusko told The Evangelist. Since Ethan liked sports and had just completed a drawing of Kevin Durant, a basketball player for the Golden State Warriors, the Yusko brothers painted the room in the bright blue and yellow team colors of the Warriors.

"We were there for two days," said Mr. Yusko. Ethan helped: "He was a cool kid. It was nice to interact with him."

The finished room includes a basketball hoop with a small court marked out on the floor. Next to the bunk beds, a blue wall has yellow lines in the shape of those on a basketball.

Already looking lived-in, the room has a basketball and soccer ball on the floor next to backpacks of school gear. A bin of toys sits near the basketball hoop.

Although it was tough to coordinate everyone's work schedules, it was worth it, Mr. Yusko said: "At the end of the day, it's not a huge commitment to do something that means a lot for somebody else."

Ethan obviously approves: A chalkboard sign on one wall declares, "Ethan's Room Rules: Take off shoes; no eating; put some respect on my room."





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