Hitting the road with Weekend Warriors


It all started because Haley Coopersmith wanted to get out of the city.

She had lived in Manhattan for seven months and decided a road trip was in order. She and a friend would travel to North Adams, Massachusetts, and visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Deciding to go was easy for the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center art director. Getting there wasn’t.

There were no convenient bus or train schedules, and renting a car was just too expensive. In the end, Coopersmith nixed the trip all together, but the experience planted a seed that propelled her to find a convenient and cost-friendly way to venture out of the city.

“I figured there must be a need for a program that takes all of the stress out of planning day trips in and out of the city,” Coopersmith said.

And instead of waiting for someone else to do it, she moved forward herself, creating the center’s Weekend Warriors program. Through Weekend Warriors, the community center arranges all of the transportation and logistics of a trip so that each participant can just enjoy the destination without stressing over the getting there.

The seasonal trips will include day excursions to museums and arts programs — both travel and admission handled through the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center — with all ages welcome. Ticket prices, Coopersmith said, will depend on the trip. The average price is $35. Participants just have to travel to the center’s main building at 3450 DeKalb Ave., to board the chartered bus.

Coopersmith has a tough task ahead of her overall at the community center, her main goal introducing arts programming to young people, especially now that such programs are being cut from schools. Weekend Warriors could build interest in the arts, bridging the gap by taking travelers out to “explore places that would not be accessible otherwise,” she said.

The center currently offers after-school programs at schools like P.S. 7 Milton Fein. Weekend Warriors offers a way to provide longer-term options, giving trip-goers of all ages a chance to be inspired by the works in places they might not think to visit.

The idea snagged the interest of Clifton Masdea, who signed up for the center’s first excursion to the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent.

Masdea moved to Queens from Boston more than a year ago. He attended exhibitions at places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as outdoor shows like Socrates Sculptural Park in Astoria. But Masdea also wanted to see art outside the five boroughs.

“I believe there is a strong connection between art, science and education,” said Masdea, a high school science teacher.
The new project already has had a hiccup. The center canceled its trip to Ghent after it failed to sign up enough people.

That hasn’t dampened Coopersmith’s enthusiasm for Weekend Warriors. Instead, next time, she’ll start promoting the event earlier, calling this first attempt of getting out of the city a learning experience.

And Coopersmith already is planning. The next Weekend Warriors trip will likely be to the science-focused Franklin Museum in Philadelphia early next year. Details are available by signing up for the center’s newsletter at MMCC.org.

“It’s taking learning outside of the classroom, outside of the internet,” Coopersmith said. “It’s really experiencing what there is to see and learning through our experiences.”

Weekend Warriors “can foster growth creatively and academically and personally, as well.”