- by Mount Saint Mary College
Mount Saint Mary College

Author Sandy Bastien of Monroe with William Kaplan, the mastermind behind the Newburgh Armory Unity Center’s signature Saturday morning programing.


Sandy Bastien of Monroe, N.Y recently published her first children’s book, Is It Saturday Yet?, based on her family’s experiences at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center (NAUC).

In her book, Bastien, a wife and mother of five, recounts the excitement her young son, Dilan, felt every Saturday morning at the Armory.

For a long time, Bastien was a volunteer parent who instructed the “Dare to be a Wild Reader class” at the Armory. In her class, children teamed up with community volunteers, including Education students from Mount Saint Mary College, to select a book that resonated with them from the Armory’s extensive library of children’s and young adult literature. As a team, the children and their mentors discovered new stories and worlds together.

“Once you inspire a child to read, you will never have to force them,” Bastien explained. “When you start to love to read, you’re going to love the development that’s happening to you. But we’ve got to get kids to read because it’s an inspiration, not because it’s a requirement.”

The Newburgh Armory has been changing young lives since 2010. From accessible literacy courses to helping children explore career paths, the Armory hosts a variety of educational programs intended to help end poverty and eliminate the need for educational remediation.

In the Armory’s signature Saturday Morning Enrichment Program, children from kindergarten to sixth grade participate in reading, writing, math, natural science, and computer science programs with the goal of developing their scholastic ability, as well as their life skills and emotional intelligence.

Last month, hundreds of copies of Is It Saturday Yet? were distributed to the families and children present at the 95th birthday celebration of Armory founder William Kaplan, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Newburgh, N.Y. Kaplan conceived the Saturday programing featured at NAUC more than a decade ago.

 “I am very satisfied with this book,” said Kaplan. “It was the best part of my 95th birthday…It is a great read and everyone from children to adults will love it. I am filled with joy.”

The book is available in Kindle and Paperback versions on Amazon.

Bastien’s next children’s book, Mommy’s Got a Great Idea, will be released in the Fall of 2023. The book is based on her creation of “BabaLID,” baby bottles with a cap attached directly to the bottle to prevent loss of the cap and increase cleanliness before and after use.  

Mount Saint Mary College enjoys an excellent relationship with the Newburgh Armory Unity Center as both institutions are passionate about education and service to the local community.

For example, through the college’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL), student volunteers help the young Armory students to explore books that reflect various cultural backgrounds and interests of the Newburgh community. Children actively share their own ideas and stories as well. 


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