A Family Vibe in the Quaker Ridge Kitchen

By Ellis Renwick-Archibold

 Ellis Renwick-Archibold optimized

This Fellowship has been a great experience. I can confidently say that I learned several lessons in ways that I didn’t expect. 

One of the most important lessons was patience. In the kitchen you always have something to do and everything is always moving. Despite the frenzied environment, you’ve got to be patient with what you’re doing and not always rush. 

The kitchen is a great environment for someone who doesn’t like to slack off. You do a lot of work, but the benefits are great. Everybody there is SUPER DUPER nice. They will always help you if you are having trouble, they will give you tips on the job you’re doing, and they will also simply talk and interact with you. 

Knowing Spanish was a huge advantage for me in the kitchen. A lot of the employees are Mexican (others are Jamaican, Brazilian etc.), so knowing their first language can prove invaluable in communication. Another one of the benefits of working in the kitchen is the food. There are always broken cookies and leftovers if you are hungry.

From what I’ve seen, the kitchen is like one giant family. Everybody treats each other like a relative. In fact, the lunch we make every day is actually called the family meal.

Momentum Wednesdays were really cool. We met extremely interesting people who shared life lessons and interesting and cool stories. Our visitors included  the district attorney of Westchester, journalists from major news outlets, and people who worked in finance. 

Another great part of Momentum Wednesdays is getting to play golf and tennis at the end of the day.

This fellowship was a great personal experience and a great first job, and I would happily do it again. I loved the fun things I did in the kitchen, the other fellows were pretty cool, and our supervisors Dan and Nancy did a great job making the fellowship an enjoyable experience. 

This is an awesome program and I definitely recommend it!

What We’ve Learned at the Tennis Shop

The clay tennis courts at Quaker Ridge need to be watered regularly to keep them in top condition.
sprinkler on clay tennis courts at Quaker Ridge
The clay tennis courts at Quaker Ridge need to be watered regularly to keep them in top condition.

By Shana Belfast and Luis Gonzalez

Shana Belfast

Shana Belfast

I work in the tennis department at Quaker Ridge, and the best part of this job so far has been the people. Everyone is very friendly, open, and welcoming. The positive energy that the tennis coaches bring every morning makes me excited to go to my internship.

I enjoyed getting to know all of the coaches. For example, Coach Raissa is currently majoring in psychology in college, which is my future major. She is a really great and fun person, and she even showed me some of the classes she was currently taking on the first day of my internship.

My day begins around 9:00 a.m., when I arrive at the tennis courts. Usually the first task for me and my fellow-intern Luis is cleaning the outside tables, which the guests use to rest and to socialize before or after a tennis lesson or match. After that, Luis and I take lunch orders for the tennis staff, including ourselves. I make sure guests have fresh, clean towels, and occasionally I check guests in.

One really interesting task that I have liked learning about is stringing a tennis racquet. Racquet strings lose their tension over time as a result of the force of the ball on the racquet face. When this happens, the ball does not bounce as much. A racquet-stringing machine is used to repair it. My job was to add the string to the machine and adjust the tension.

Sometimes in the mornings, I watch the coaches teach the guests. I especially like when the guest is a child, because I am interested in working with children in some way in the future. It is so great to see them learn while they have fun!

When it is almost lunch time, I usually go with one of the tennis coaches on a golf cart to help pick up lunch. I enjoy this part of the day because it allows me to see the beautiful natural green space, people playing golf, and other parts of the club that I do not usually get to see when I’m on the tennis courts.

At times when there are no guests on the courts and we have some free time, the coaches play tennis with us and give us some technique tips, which is also fun.

Luis Gonzalez

Luis Gonzalez

Like Shana, I also enjoy working with the staff in the tennis department. Having in-depth conversations with them has improved my knowledge of career paths in tennis and other fields.

I also enjoy interacting with members who come on a regular basis to the tenis department’s power workouts and clinics. Their perspectives on the club have been enlightening.

One thing I’ve learned about is the maintenance that must be done on a clay tennis court. As the surface material is not a fixed object, and more like sand than concrete, keeping the layers even is extremely important for playing. That is why the courts are cleaned regularly, usually every other day. However, when evening out the surface, some of the clay goes onto the lines. The club has a separate cleaning device to keep the lines clean.

Other than keeping an even surface, tennis courts must also have a consistent moisture content. So the courts also have sprinklers. Whey they are on (see above), it is a sight to behold.

All in all, my experience so far has been amazing.

What We’ve Learned at the Golf Shop

By Denver Matthews and Darrin Greaves II

Denver Matthews and Darrin Greaves
Denver Matthews, left, and Darrin Greaves.
Quaker Ridge golf shop
The golf shop at Quaker Ridge.

When we started our fellowship in the golf shop at Quaker Ridge, we thought our main job would be selling golf apparel and providing members all of their golf necessities. But as the weeks have rolled by, we have learned there is much more to it than that.

“Our job is to provide a great start to every member’s day and provide them with the best golf experience Quaker Ridge has to offer,” said Mario Guerra, the club’s head golf professional.

A day in the golf shop consists of much more than working the cash register.

Quaker Ridge bag storage
Members’ bags are stored at the club.

One of the first things that we learned about was the importance of proper golf attire – a collared polo shirt (tucked in!), long shorts, socks, and golf shoes. The clothing is part of the decorum of the game, and definitely more formal when compared to other sports. Dressing correctly for the game is one way that golfers show respect for the history and traditions of the game.

On a typical morning, we welcome members from 8 to 9 and prepare their equipment for their rounds, which typically take about four hours. Greeting the members has helped us build a network and work on our communication skills in a professional environment. At the golf course, we feel like part of a family in which we respect one another but also have the freedom to speak up.

One member put it this way: “We must have respect for ourselves and make sure to speak out if we feel uncomfortable and ask questions if we need help.”

From 9 to 11, we work on keeping things neat and other simple tasks, including picking up range balls, cleaning and refueling carts, and making sales in the pro shop.

“The main reason I love it here is because of all of the people I can reach and make happy from just saying hello and providing a safe environment for the golfers,” Guerra said. “Taking care of details, from saying hello to picking up balls, can make such a difference in a member’s experience. Just remember to always shoot a smile their way while doing it.”

We have lunch from 11 to noon and then shadow the golf pros and learn the game. Sometimes we go to the putting green for lessons, and other times we go to the driving range to work on our swings. This is the best part of the day not only because we are learning golf, but also because of the other lessons we’re learning like patience and the importance of quiet.

For the rest of the day, we also continue to greet the members and complete more simple tasks.

One of our favorite experiences so far has been learning how to drive a golf cart and the appropriate places to drive them on the course.

All in all, our experience at Quaker Ridge has been great.

Quaker Ridge golf course

A Day on the Maintenance Crew at Quaker Ridge


By Alexander Ciriaco

Alexander Ciriaco

I applied to this program because I wanted to improve my golf and tennis skills while feeding my desire to study bioengineering.

This is my first job, and it is the best job! I work with the golf course maintenance team, and it is my responsibility to help keep the course looking its best. What better way to learn the game of golf than by learning how to care for and appreciate the land?

I was intrigued by the opportunity to become a fellow for several reasons. First, we get expert golf and tennis instruction from some of the best teaching professionals in the business. Second, we have the chance to meet and speak with club members who are industry leaders, game-changers, and veterans in a wide variety of professions. Most importantly, they want to help us succeed, reach our goals, and realize our dreams.

The greatest opportunity is that we have access to good mentors like my supervisor, Golf Course Superintendent Tom Ashfield, who have high expectations. “If your standards are high, the people that you work for will never be disappointed,” he said. He is always ready to provide the tools for my success.

Quaker Ridge fellows during a golf lesson
Alexander Ciriaco, left, during a golf lesson with Mario Guerra, head golf professional at Quaker Ridge.

A Work Day in the Life of a Quaker Ridge Fellow:

  • An average day for me is heading to the maintenance building at 9:00 AM and dropping off my bag in the locker room. After that I head to the garage and get a cart; I fill the back with dirt and seed and head out to the course to fill divots. I usually go with other interns if they’re free.
  • I’ve learned a lot about plants and turf management while working here. One example is when one of the supervisors showed us how to prevent the grass from suffocating or getting infected with disease or fungus.
  • During my time working on the golf course, I have learned the basics of driving both gas and electric carts while simultaneously understanding how automatic and manual transmissions work.
  • My first couple of days, I learned to fill divots and was able to get a feel for the course. I originally filled divots with other interns, but now I’m able to do them myself.
  • When I’m not filling divots or sweeping, I’m cleaning bunkers.
  • Plants were not the only thing we learned about. The maintenance team’s mechanic, Angel, showed us the difference between electric, gas and diesel vehicles. He also showed us how he repairs all of the machines that are used to keep the golf course looking good.
  • During lunch I hang out with the other interns and have fun!

Inaugural Fellows Class Begins Work (and Play) at Quaker Ridge

Quaker Ridge Fellows class of 2021
Top row: Denver Matthews, Alexander Ciriaco and Darrin Greaves II. Bottom row: Ellis Renwick-Archibold, Brittney Benjamin, Luis Gonzalez and Shana Belfast. Not pictured: Miles Renwick-Archibold.

For the eight young people who make up our first class of Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows, this was a week of new experiences: starting new jobs, meeting new people, studying new topics, getting familiar with new surroundings, and learning new sports, just to name a few.

“To say I felt out of place was an understatement,” Brittney Benjamin, who just graduated from New Rochelle High School and is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, said of her first-day jitters. “I had never even touched a golf club except digitally on my Nintendo Wii, so I wasn’t fully sure what I was getting into.”

Although Brittney and the other fellows were in unfamiliar surroundings, we hope they felt at home by the end of Tuesday’s daytime orientation and evening reception. The orientation included ice-breaker activities, an introduction to the golf course and A.W. Tillinghast by Golf Course Superintendent Thomas Ashfield, and presentations by various Quaker Ridge department heads, who were also interviewed by the students.

In the evening, the fellows were joined by their families for a reception, where they heard from Jeff Shapiro, the club president; Farrell Evans, Momentum’s co-founder and executive director; and John Fizer, a Momentum board member.

The eight fellows will work in pairs this summer in different areas of the club: Ellis Renwick-Archibold and Brittney Benjamin will be working in the kitchen, Miles Renwick-Archibold and Alexander Ciriaco with the grounds crew and management departments, Darrin Greaves II and Denver Matthews in the golf shop, and Shana Belfast and Luis Gonzalez in the tennis shop.

The fellows will be at the club every week from Wednesday through Sunday, with Wednesdays devoted to a series of workshops about journalism, financial literacy, golf course architecture, college applications, career counseling and more. Thursdays through Sundays will be devoted to working in their various departments. Each day will also include golf and tennis instruction.

Sam Weiss, cofounder of Momentum, conducted a workshop on Wednesday that focused on nonprofits. He and the fellows discussed how Momentum was started and why golf is a focus of the program, and then they broke into groups so the fellows could brainstorm ideas for their own nonprofits. Everyone came up with an organization idea and developed a mission statement. The great ideas included nonprofits focused on water sustainability, blue and green infrastructure, ambulance and urgent care assistance, mental health, STEM mentorship, college counseling, and neurodivergent awareness. Throughout the summer, the students will continue to research and develop their nonprofit concepts.

We will continue to update you on our fellows’ progress, and they will also be chronicling their summer with a series of blog posts on momentumed.org. Stay tuned!

Momentum and Columbia Water Center Are Bringing Data Science Into Eagle Academy Classrooms

Momentum and the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University have teamed up to bring a grant program funded by the National Science Foundation to the Eagle Academies of Harlem and Southeast Queens.

The grant program – America’s Water Education Project to Engage Young Black and Latino Men in Data Science through Water Security, or AWE – is designed to break through persistent barriers faced by Black and Latino men in STEM education and careers. Working with 8th through 11th grade students and their teachers from the Eagle Academies of Harlem and Southeast Queens, AWE will integrate data science into math and science curricula to test, among other things, the effect on STEM competency and the likelihood of students’ choosing a data science career, especially one related to water security.

Communities of color across the United States face increasing challenges with affordable access to safe drinking water, as seen in Flint, Newark, Texas and elsewhere. Using data science to explore why, where and how this is happening, and what is being done about it, provides a powerful vehicle for engaging students in STEM and helping to develop a digital workforce with appropriate representation from these communities of color.

We will keep you posted on the project as it rolls out over the coming months.

Meet the First Class of Quaker Ridge Fellows

We are excited to introduce the young women and men from New Rochelle High School who have been admitted to the first class of Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows for the summer of 2021.

In their applications, these students said they were eager to work with mentors and learn more about educational and career opportunities. All of the students have an academic interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as in the arts – music, theater, photography and communication.

The fellows also shared their perspectives on making the world a better place, exploring and honing leadership skills, and developing personal strength and resilience. They are excited to meet the members of the Quaker Ridge Golf Club while working on their golf and tennis skills and making new friends.

The 2021 Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows are:

Brittney Benjamin

Brittney Benjamin

Brittney Benjamin is a graduating senior at New Rochelle High School. She has studied honors Mandarin Chinese, Algebra and four years of Science Research.

Brittney is looking forward to “receiving opportunities to learn and mature through the Quaker Ridge Fellows Program.” She is very interested in STEM and has not only benefitted from being around other female scientists but also by mentoring a “seventh grade Yemeni girl named Sarah who did not enjoy science because she would always struggle,” Brittney wrote. “But by the end of our time together, Sarah won first place in Chemistry at a local science fair.”

Brittney would tell her future self “not to undermine her capabilities because she might never know what other lives she could improve.” She concluded her thoughts by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.”

This summer Brittney is interning with Chef Joseph Day.

Shana Belfast

Shana Belfast

Shana Belfast is a graduating senior at New Rochelle High School and studies Dance, Vocal Music, and Musical Theater along with her high school core classes.

In 2019, Shana published her memoir – “Colors Beyond Clouds: A Journey Through the Social Life of a Girl on the Autism Spectrum” – which has been recommended by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a writer in residence at Columbia University, in Your Teen magazine. Shana has participated in book readings and is volunteering with the Westchester Institute for Human Development’s Self Advocates Network to promote acceptance of neurodiversity.

As Shana wrote, these experiences “give me the opportunity to reach more people with my message and an opportunity to change perceptions.” Shana says she would tell her future self “to seek out everyone’s voice, even though they are different from mine. I would tell her to keep looking for new opportunities and be open-minded.”

Shana is passionate about social-emotional and nutritional well-being, embracing “whole person” health and experiencing firsthand the healing properties of physical movement through dance, tennis or running. She is an award-winning singer and placed third at Omega Psi Phi’s regional talent competition at Delaware State University for her performance of “Waiting for Life to Begin” from the musical Once on This Island. She recently performed in New Rochelle High School’s production of the musical “Is There Life After High School?”

Shana looks forward to “engaging with people in a positive way to understand different perspectives” and to “having experiences to help develop her career goals,” which include majoring in either Psychology or the Health Sciences.

This summer Shana is interning with J.P. McConnell.

Alexander Ciriaco

Alexander Ciriaco

Alexander Ciriaco is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who is studying AP World History, AP Physics 1, French, Musical Theatre and Honors Algebra.

Alexander enjoys “discussing politics and debating world history” and wants to pursue a career in medicine. He said that these educational experiences will help shape his goals of becoming a doctor and a scientist. For Alexander, scientific research is a foundation to learning, and he is excited to return to the classroom next year because that is “where he learns best.” He looks forward to taking Pre-Calculus, AP Biology and Economics, and to continuing with World History. He says that he also “loves creating digital art, watching anime, playing video games, and hanging out with my family and my dogs, Echo and Princess.”

Alexander puts his family first, and “church and education are non-negotiables in our house.” He has suffered the loss of both his father and grandmother. His father, Carlixto Julian Ciriaco, was a professional caddy, and Alexander’s father and uncle, Tio Jose, made sure that Alexander learned how to play golf. Alexander’s grandmother suffered respiratory problems, and he helped her by “doing simple chores to make her comfortable.” Five years ago, Alexander’s father died from a heart attack. He wrote that the only thing he can take away from these “painful experiences is that they make me stronger, committed and determined.” Alexander says that “keeping his dad’s legacy alive and fulfilling his grandma’s dreams for him” means he “strives to do his best, every day.”

As a Fellow, Alexander would like to strengthen his “communication, team-building, leadership and soft skills.” He thinks “it will be fun learning together with other teenagers and meeting new friends.”

This summer Alexander is interning with Erika Mehnert and Tom Ashfield.

Luis Gonzalez

Luis Gonzalez

Luis Gonzalez is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who has a “passion for math and science” and is studying Pre-AP Mandarin, AP Calculus BC, AP Physics 1 and Computer Graphics. He pursues rigorous study “to build his endurance and confidence.” In all he undertakes, Luis “always strives for a more challenging and better future.”

He wrote in his essays that music is a “large part of what helps me get through tough times.” He composes his own songs and plays piano and guitar and finds that music transports him “to a world of instruments coming together in harmony.” He recognizes that excelling at music requires “both a good ear and good hand-eye coordination, and that being able to read and understand music is a life-long skill.”

Luis would like to build a career in music but realizes that a path focused entirely on music might limit his choices. He is exploring, instead, how music could be integrated into his future profession as a way to reflect both his “passion and his analytical mindset.” He believes that focus and passion need to be “forever in his arsenal to draw strength from,” regardless of where his life takes him.

This summer Luis is interning with J.P. McConnell.

Darrin Greaves II

Darrin Greaves

Darrin Greaves II is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who studies Mandarin, Pre-Calculus, Advanced Chemistry, Honors Physics, Algebra II and World History. He began attending the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program in sixth grade and writes that the experience “has taught him both independence and how to communicate at a young age, as well as how to interact and live with people from different cultures and backgrounds.” That, he says, gives him “the greatest sense of responsibility.”

Darrin started learning Mandarin in sixth grade and developed his skills by communicating with Chinese students in his dorm at Johns Hopkins. Darrin says his time in the dorm helped him “learn how to defuse conflict and work collaboratively.” He points to the importance of communication skills in expressing “his ideas and feelings” while also understanding “the emotions and thoughts of others.”

“I would tell my future self about the importance of communication, remaining focused and continuing to learn new things,” he wrote. “I would remind myself that life has so much to offer and it’s important to be true to myself, be moral and treat people how I would like to be treated. There is a big world outside of New Rochelle, and you should continue to explore it.”

Darrin has a keen interest in science and in marine biology, with a “love for the environment and how the ecosystem works.” He plans to major in marine biology and wants to “explore the seas in his future life.” Darrin also wants to explore how to help oceans get healthy, reversing coral reef extinctions and plastic pollution, while investigating elusive species. “Biologists must have a plethora of skills to be able to succeed in the field,” he says.

This summer Darrin is interning with Mario Guerra and Heather Peterson.

Denver Matthews

Denver Matthews

Denver Matthews is a ninth grader at New Rochelle High School and is studying Earth Science, Honors Geometry, Spanish, and Studio Photography. He is currently in a mentoring program, Kappa League, which “helps young boys develop through seven programmatic phases: Self Identity, training, discipline, appearance, competition, self-assurance and preparation.”

Denver currently serves as the Vice President for his high school group. He wrote: “One of the most memorable experiences for me was this year’s leadership conference, where Kappa Leaguers from all over the Northeastern region came together to have conversations about leadership.” He said the experience allowed him to “connect with other boys his age and learn new things.” He was also inspired by a presentation by a billionaire who spoke about the power of entrepreneurship.

Denver has a keen interest in STEM both academically and as a career focus. He appreciates how another experience, the Iona Step Summer Program, helped him get a head start on his classes for his first year of high school. Being mentored means a lot to Denver because he wants to “continue to grow and enhance his leadership skills and be assisted and guided by his mentors to make good decisions.”

Denver “loves sports and what they teach.” Through sports, Denver has learned how to “handle competition, have discipline, teamwork and good character.” He is interested in connecting STEM/STEAM to tennis and golf and in the workshops on college preparation. He also hopes to contribute his own leadership skills to the Fellows Program. Denver is “attentive and engaged” and is all about setting examples of discipline, responsibility, kindness and respect, as well as being supportive of others.

This summer Denver is interning with Mario Guerra and Heather Peterson.

Ellis Renwick-Archibold

ellis renwick-archibold

Ellis Renwick-Archibold is in his first year at New Rochelle High School and is studying Spanish, Sculpture, the Living Environment and Pre-Science Research. He is interested in STEM and participated in a summer camp in 2019 that was sponsored by the BEAM Center of Brooklyn, where he designed and built his own drone.

He feels that mentoring is very important from this experience and wants to continue to build one-on-one connections with people to learn about what “they’ve studied in school or about their job.” He would “love to know that someone is there if I have questions and could check in on me.”

“It would be really nice to learn from someone else, another Black teen or Black male adult,” he said.

Ellis’s educational and career interests include “animal science, technology and building and construction – the way things are made.” He has planned, designed and built ships from Legos and is curious to learn things from “random questions” like: “Does a blue whale get cold when it exits the water for air, like I do when I get out of the pool?” or “How many light receptors does a rainbow shrimp have?”

Ellis has an interest in pursuing veterinary science and feels that he is sometimes better connected to “animals than to people” and is inspired by “weird and interesting things” about ecosystems. He likes comparing species in the same category and seeing similarities and differences in body structures. By the end of 2021, he hopes to milk a cow.

This summer Ellis is interning with Chef Joe Day.

Momentum Partners with Quaker Ridge

Quaker Ridge logo

In January 2021, Momentum entered a new partnership with the Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY. The Club has a legacy of countering anti-Semitism and racism to welcome people of all backgrounds to their membership.

Its leadership reached out to Farrell Evans, asking for his guidance on how the club could enhance diversity and inclusion, not only in the immediate sense, but for the longer term.

Discussions led to the design of a strategic initiative comprising internships, mentoring, instruction, and other experiential learning for high school students from underrepresented groups who live in New Rochelle and Mt. Vernon.

The programs will be sponsored by the club and implemented by Momentum. Programming is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2021.