The Children's Aid Blog

Climbing to Success, and Helping Others Along

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Patrick Alvarez, left, and Isaias Garcia serving up a turkey dinner last week in Harlem.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured, by Sam Dolnick, this Children’s Aid story about Patrick Alvarez and Isaias Garcia and how they give back because of the help they have been given. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

Patrick Alvarez made sure the tables of children were eating their turkey while he directed a group of volunteers to the kitchen, nodded thanks to a mentor and shook hands with a well-wisher grateful for the meal.

The blizzard of activity might have overwhelmed most people, but Mr. Alvarez, 19, has spent his life overcoming long odds. He went from living in a homeless shelter with his mother to studying economics at Syracuse University, where he is a sophomore. Along the way, he said, he saw domestic abuse at home, mostly in the Bronx, cold nights on a shelter floor and fierce battles with Brooklyn rats.

But all of that seemed a lifetime ago on Tuesday night at the Frederick Douglass Center on the Upper West Side, as Mr. Alvarez watched some 200 people eat Thanksgiving dinners provided by a nonprofit group that he founded.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Michelle V. Agins for The New York Times

East Harlem Children’s Aid Kids Prove Youngsters Don’t Only Think of Themselves!

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image013On Friday, December 4th, hundreds of youngsters took a break from adding to their massive wish lists to make hand-made gifts for their family and friends during the We Care event at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem.

Thanks to We Care, an annual national event organized by Herman Miller, Inc. and joined by over 200 of America’s top architecture and interior design firms such as Environetics, Tobron and Gensler, the center’s gym was transformed into “Santa’s Workshop” for the afternoon. image015

Approximately 465 preschool and early school-aged children from Dunlevy Milbank Center, Drew Hamilton Center, Frederick Douglass Center, East Harlem Center and Taft Day Care in Harlem and East Harlem, tackled the individual craft stations to make candles, photo cubes, hats, coffee mugs and bedazzled gloves. What to get that difficult older brother? Grandma’s the picky type? We Care and Children’s Aid staff were on hand to help with the tough choices and even helped wrap the gifts so that they would be ready for the holidays. Picking the right gift for that special someone is never an easy task so music, face painting and gingerbread cookies helped ease the gift making stress. And just in case the postal service to the North Pole is not as reliable this year, Santa was on the premises to confirm any last minute requests! Photos Courtesy of Lily Kesselman

Children’s Aid East Harlem New York Kids Get a Lesson in Popular Toys from Different Decades

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image002Since 2004, the Children's Aid Society has received the extraordinary support from the Simons and Magerman families to fund MASPAS (Magerman and Simons Program for Academic Success) - an intensive academic program at our three Harlem community Centers.

MASPAS works with 5th through 8th graders, promoting their academic success and getting them on a strong high school track.  MASPAS provides what many of our children desperately need:  academic enrichment during the after-school hours.  Over the last few years, the program has focused on project-based learning where the students steer the curriculum to large-scale projects that interest them. image004

The 5th Grade MASPAS group at the East Harlem Center has obviously been thinking a lot about toys this holiday season - however, not in the usual way.  This particular group of young people has been researching the most popular toys from different decades. 

Did you know that the first Mr. Potato Head cost only 98 cents?  Or that Silly Putty is actually used in space by astronauts because it's so flexible?  image006As part of the Center's holiday show, the MASPAS students have been putting together a skit to share all the fun facts they've learned about their toys.

To make the project even more engaging - the 5th graders decided to take a recent trip to Toys R Us in Times Square to see how much these timeless toys cost today.  Each child had to inquire with store personnel as to where their specific toy was located, and then they needed to use one of the store's price scanners to check the toy's cost.  image008 The students were surprised to see how the prices and packaging of today compared to the originals.

Everyone had a lot of fun learning more about these popular toys and being a part of the city's holiday atmosphere.

A Long and Winding Road Together

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Clockwise from upper left, Calif Green and his sons: Zaire, Ishmael, Calif Elijah and Isiah

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has recently featured this Children’s Aid story by Jennifer Mascia about Calif Green and his life in constant motion, that it until he found The Children’s Aid Society.  Below is an excerpt from the original article.

The one constant in Calif Green’s 36 years has been motion.

A life that began in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, took him to North Carolina; Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; New Orleans; Atlanta; central Florida; prison; Macon, Ga.; Maryland; Key West, Fla.; a Harlem shelter; and ultimately, a three-bedroom apartment on the Rockaway peninsula so close to Kennedy Airport that, every three to five minutes, a plane will buzz the 11-story apartment building, its engines visible from the living room window.

“Throw a string up there high enough, you can take a little ride,” Mr. Green joked.

A father by the time he was 16, Mr. Green endured quite a bit before he settled into this 10th-floor apartment, including several “wild years,” a volatile marriage and the birth of six children, one of whom died in infancy. A series of breakups and reunions with his wife prompted their serial relocation, until his imprisonment for aggravated assault in 2002.

After his release he joined his wife and children in Macon, but in 2006 a construction job took him to Maryland. His daughter and sons stayed in Macon with their mother, who suffered from mental illness and would disappear for days at a time to abuse drugs, he said.

When Mr. Green’s wife was arrested for assault and put behind bars, the boys were evicted and their things thrown into the street. Empty-handed, they went to stay with their maternal grandmother in Macon. But as soon as Mr. Green earned enough money for bus fare, he sent for his sons. One by one he was reunited with Calif Elijah, now 18; Ishmael, 17; Isiah, 16; and Zaire, 14. (His daughter opted to live in North Carolina with her boyfriend and infant son.)

Read more.

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

 

Photo courtesy of Julie Glassberg for The New York Times

Special Needs Forum Held for Children’s Aid Head Start Parents in East Harlem

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wed1Accessing services for a child with special needs can be a very daunting task - this challenging situation is only compounded when that family is new to the country and doesn't speak English.  These concerns sparked a recent event at the East Harlem Head Start program.  A group of parents, who presently have children receiving special needs services, got together to plan a Special Needs Forum where parents could share their stories, speak to experts in the field, and get their questions answered.

Nicole McClammy, Lizet Flores, Adriana Ramirez, and Brenda Colon, all mothers of preschoolers in the East Harlem Head Start program, put the forum together.  After two months of planning, the parents pulled together the following presenters:  a pediatrician from the Dunlevy Milbank Center to present on developmental milestones, a service provider from the Visiting Nurse Service to provide an overview of zero to three year olds, a service provider from TheraCare to cover children from three to five, and then an advocate from Advocates for Children to inform the audience of their rights as parents.wed3

The forum, which was held in Spanish, had a great turn out and a lot of important questions were answered.  The East Harlem Head Start program wants to graciously thank the parents from the planning committee for sharing their experiences and for making it a priority to share resources with the larger community.  Also, big thanks to all the presenters for sharing their expertise and providing so much clarity within the confusing world of special needs.

Pictures from the 23rd Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue

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Miracle on Madison Avenue volunteers get ready to hang balloons outside participating retailers

Miracle on Madison Avenue Kick off Brunch guests Richard R. Buery, Jr, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society with Event Chair and star of Law and Order: SVU, Tamara Tunie

The Carlyle Restaurant had tastings of their delicious butternut squash soup, hot apple cider and fresh baked goodies!

Children’s Aid Board Chairman Angela Diaz, M.D., M.P.H., Children’s Aid President and CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr., Event Chair Tamara Tunie, BNY Mellon President Robert Kelly, Madison Avenue BID President Matthew Bauer and a representative from the NYPD cut the ribbon to kick off Miracle on Madison Avenue

Volunteers made beautiful wreaths which were sold for $25 each with the proceeds going to Children’s Aid health services.

East Harlem Center Keystone Club and Artistic Noise’s Next Generation Center & LINC Program sold holiday cards of their own design and creation

The Pipes of Christmas, presented by the Clan Currie Society, step dancers and fiddler (background.)

Shoppers on Madison Avenue

All photos courtesy of Mike DiVito

Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah Kicks Off EXCEL in Writing, Thinking and Inquiry at NYU Academy

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Pictured l. to r. Cheryl Ching, The Teagle Foundation, Donna Heiland, The Teagle Foundation, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ph.D., Princeton University and Richard Buery, President and CEO, The Children’s Aid Society

Diogenes, Alexander the Great, the Cynics, and the perils of world government.  These are not common discussion topics for New York City high schools students.Yet on Thursday, December 3rd, these were the subjects of a lecture given by philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy at Princeton to a group of 40 high school students from Children’s Aid’s EXCEL College Prep program.  Dr. Appiah was one of my professors in college, and it was a thrill to have the opportunity to welcome him to Children’s Aid!

The lecture was the kick-off event for the EXCEL in Writing, Thinking and Inquiry at NYU Academy, a brand new collaboration between The Children’s Aid Society and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development.  The collaboration is funded by The Teagle Foundation via its College-Community Partnership grant program with additional support from The Squire Family Foundation.

EXCEL at NYU is an interdisciplinary, interactive college preparatory program based on academically rigorous training in philosophy and writing. The program will prepare CAS EXCEL high school juniors for competitive intellectual achievement, and will assist them in every phase of the college application, including the personal essay.

Richard Buery, speaks with teen members of the EXCEL at NYU Academy at the kick-off reception.

Beginning with after school and weekend sessions during the academy year, the program culminates in a 4-week Summer Seminar on the NYU campus where students will participate in lively, intensive training sessions in philosophic inquiry, critical thinking and expository writing. Dr. Appiah’s book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, will be the central text of the summer course. A technology-based logic game, created by Professor David Velleman, will also be used during the summer program. The program also features Uptown/Downtown cultural exchanges, NYU student-Bronx HS student interactions, interactive technology, cultural events, tutoring and evaluation.

If the kickoff event was any indication, the EXCEL Academy students are in for a wonderful year.  The students were very engaged by the presentation.  Dr. Appiah never spoke down to the students; instead, he challenged them with difficult language and concepts. The evening was a testament to the intellectual curiosity and unlimited potential of our young people.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Children’s Aid Society

An Insider CEO's Guide to Finding the Right Philanthropic Match

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In the nonprofit world, the phrase, “we’ll do lunch” has its own meaning in the sense that “lunch” is code for “bring your checkbook.” You (the donor) and I (the nonprofit CEO) will enjoy a meal and then I’m going to pull out all the stops to prove to you why my charity deserves your organization’s financial support.

You might be invited to one of these lunches in the coming weeks, as charities make that year-end fund-raising push. The CEOs will have his (or her) spiel down pat. He’s polished. He even has a dollar figure in mind that he’d like to see you contribute. But eventually he’ll stop talking, and then it’s your turn to ask the questions. What you ask can help you determine the best use of your philanthropic dollar.

Here are the first three questions every courted donor should ask during The Lunch:

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO

Shoppers Can “Round-Up” Holiday Purchases at JCPenney and Support After-School Programs at The Children’s Aid Society in New York

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The quarters and dimes returned to you as change after a purchase at a store can go into your piggy bank, OR, they can help support after-school programming at the Hope Leadership Academy!

image001 From now through Sunday, December 13, JCPenney at Manhattan Mall invites shoppers to round-up all purchases to the nearest whole dollar; the store will donate 100% of the difference to The Children’s Aid Society’s after-school programs at Hope, which include academics, arts, college preparation and scholarship programs, employment training and technology for its teen members.

All employees are encouraged to do some holiday shopping at JCPenney and round-up! It’s an easy (and fun) way to make a donation to critically needed services.

The Children’s Aid Society is the permanent round-up partner of the JCPenney at Manhattan Mall, which offers the round-up opportunity to shoppers quarterly.

Dr. Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program Celebrates 25 years!

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thanksgiving2I was honored to attend the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Dr. Michael Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. It was held on September 30, 2009 at the Harvard Club of New York City and attended by family, friends, industry colleagues, program graduates and supporters.

Dr. Carrera started his work in the field back in the 1960’s when discussion of teen sexual activity and health was taboo.   Dr. Carrera continues to break new ground – over the past 25 years he has created a program that gives teens the tools they need to succeed on so many levels including pregnancy prevention. And he’s brought parents into the conversation with teens – a small miracle in itself.   One of the most quoted lines in all his APPP materials is that we don’t prevent teen pregnancy – they do.

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As a testament to his work, Gara LaMarche from The Atlantic Philanthropies spoke about Dr. Carrera’s work over his career and his perseverance, “he’s been able to show…through political ups and downs and different administrations – some which were hostile and some of which have been supportive – how important this work is, and how effective it is.”

Casper Lassiter, a graduate of the program and who now works with teens as director of our Dunlevy Milbank Center, spoke about his initial experience with the program as a 14-year-old.  “The first meeting, it was so passionate, he was so genuine – you can’t fool teenagers, they see right through you, and all we saw was that you cared about us, you loved us and you wanted us to succeed.”  And succeed they did – hats off to Dr. Carrera!

Kathy de Meij, Associate Director of Development, Director of Marketing & Special Events