You may not see Camille teaching a class or at the front desk, but she plays a very important role in the functioning of Manhattan Youth. Camille works at the Downtown Community Center as deputy director to Bob Townley. She oversees the goings-on at the Community Center, including hiring, marketing, communications and handling programs. She also brings the COO’s attention to other aspects of the Community Center that need work.
But what does marketing or communications really mean? Camille said that if she had to explain her job to a five-year-old, she would say, “’my job is to make people happy,’ and ultimately communications, marketing, a clean center, a friendly center, all of the things that I’m in charge of, do make people happy.”
Camille has a passion for community centers that, interestingly enough, was born while working in the theatre world. Camille was originally an actress. She got her master’s degree in theatre and was a part of the New York City theatre world. “As I went on and I was in shows and I enjoyed it, I realized the thing that I was most passionate about when it came to theatre was this thing that we do where we pool our resources together; we all have a part in something that we are creating for an audience.” While Camille was an actress, she had a day job as a fitness teacher. When she taught fitness at community centers, she found that they possessed the same camaraderie that she loved so much about theatre. “I found that the fitness, working in community centers, and my love for theater sort of came together and I realized that what I really loved was building community.”
Camille spoke about the importance of community centers, specifically Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center, in a place like New York City. She said, “We’re a city full of huge amounts of people, but we can also feel so lonely and isolated, and just coming to a community center like Manhattan Youth feels like a town square, it feels like a second home.”
Camille’s favorite part of working at Manhattan Youth is the kids, and what goes on downstairs every day. She stated, “Whenever I feel sort of bogged down with things, if I just go downstairs and see the kids having a great time, that is my favorite thing. Just saying hello to the kids, getting to know the kids, talking to the parents, and you know, taking their suggestions.”
Camille remarked that Manhattan Youth is unique in the respect that it isn’t part of a larger franchise, like the YMCA. She also commented on the facility. “It’s not hard to bring people in and show it off and say ‘don’t you want to be here?’ And they always do.”