The Children's Aid Blog

Children’s Aid Miracle on Madison Avenue a Resounding Success

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Despite rain and snow the day before, the 2009 Miracle on Madison Avenue event was a huge success! The day kicked off with brunch at Calypso St Barth which was attended by event Chair and Law and Order: SUV star Tamara Tunie, Bob Kelly, CEO of presenting sponsor BNY Mellon, Matthew Bauer, the President of the Madison Avenue BID, Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society and many of Children’s Aid staff and supporters. There were passionate speeches and hearty thanks to all who have helped put the 23rd Miracle on Madison Avenue together! At noon, the party headed outside into the cold for the ribbon cutting ceremony which officially kicked off the shopping.

Store Sign Announcing Miracle Participation

Guests were encouraged to do some guilt free shopping and with that the red ribbon was cut and the day began. Shoppers up and down Madison Avenue from 57th to 86th Street were greeted by balloons and signs signifying one of the 77 participating retailers. 20% of your purchases from these businesses was donated to Children’s Aid health services which ensure full health care access and preventative care to the neediest children and families of New York City.

There was activity all up and down the Avenue. CBS-FM Radio played holiday music, volunteers from our newest community school in Washington Heights, High School for Excellence and Innovation, expertly sold raffle tickets to shoppers and volunteers from BNY Mellon handed out free samples of Glowelle® Beauty Supply Drink, M&M’S® BRAND Premiums Chocolate Candies and Mini Babybel® Cheeses.

Under the hospitality tents Children’s Aid volunteers made and sold festive holiday wreaths and Children’s Aid kids sold holiday cards that they had designed. Also, under the- thankfully- heated tent were giveaways and wonderful food tastings from The Carlyle Restaurant. This year’s butternut squash soup and hot apple cider were divine and certainly hit the spot!

There was also wonderful live performances including step dancers and a fiddler from The Pipes of Christmas, presented by the Clan Currie Society, music from The Labor of Love Ensemble, rhythmic performances from COBU, Inc., and a Capella music from Figgy Puddynge.

Miracle Sunday turned into the perfect December day for holiday shopping. To the hundreds of volunteers, the many more supporters and shoppers who braved the cold and came out to shop on Sunday, we’d like to say thank you to everyone who made this year’s Miracle on Madison Avenue a wonderful success.

Cathleen Miles and Danielle Mueller
Children’s Aid New York

Thanksgiving Dinner Donated by Top Chefs and Generous Volunteers of Children’s Aid

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thanksgiving1The staples of Thanksgiving dinner were on full display at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center on Wednesday, November 25th. Delicious dishes including tender turkey, tart cranberry sauce and cheesy mac & cheese, and more were generously donated by some of New York’s finest hotels and restaurants.

Now in its 19th year, the annual thanksgiving dinner was provided by the Food & Beverage Association of America. Headed by Wayne Whinna, Director of Food and Beverage at The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, and organized by Gladys Mouton Di Stefano, President of the Food and Beverage Association, over 4,000 pounds of turkey with all the trimmings were prepared, delivered and served to families of Dunlevy Milbank as well as the surrounding Harlem community.

Casper Lassiter, Director of the Dunlevy Milbank Center served as an entertaining MC and raffled away over 100 turkeys.

David Giordano, director of the East Harlem Center and DJ for the night, played familiar holiday tunes. Also in attendance was The Children’s Aid Society’s new CEO Richard Buery who, along with his two boys, mingled with guests. All in attendance had a lovely dinner, with great company, fun entertainment and a restful night’s sleep thanks to the great meal! Photos Courtesy of Lily Kesselman

It’s Never Too Late to Learn: Children’s Aid and The Value of Adult Education

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“Knowledge is Power”Sir Francis Bacon As we journey through life, we accumulate experience, knowledge and, most importantly - wisdom. When we work hard to educate ourselves, we gain what is called sweat equityor the value that we’ve earned from our efforts.

Education provides a Value that means different things to different people. For the men and women who participate in The Children’s Aid Society's adult education programs, the value of an education is quantifiable: education makes them more marketable, more able to function and flourish in a highly complex and competitive world.  Children’s Aid gladly provides the resources and support to help them succeed!

Through programs like Families with a Future, Children’s Aid Society parents work one-on-one with a Life Coach who helps them to set goals and a long term self-empowerment plan. Besides offering counseling and family support services, The Children’s Aid Society helps finance their education by awarding grants to qualified students. Other adult services include E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) and computer courses at our technology centers.

Helping families to help themselves – that’s what we set out to accomplish. When we help parents to become productive members of the community, they are better able to provide a safe and stimulating home for their children. They also become role models for their children who, in turn, will share the benefits of their parents’ example and sweat equity.

A Life Transformed by The Children’s Aid Society Programs

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Our Annual Meeting on October 15th was a testament to the work of Pete Moses, who will be retiring at the end of this year.  Pete spent more than 40 years at The Children’s Aid Society , making huge improvements in the lives and wellbeing of the neediest children of New York, most recently as Chief Executive Officer.  In addition to an overview of programs started or expanded under Pete’s leadership, some of the most moving moments of the meeting were comments by those who have used Children’s Aid programs and services over the years.

Nayady Cruz spoke about her long and expansive relationship with Children’s Aid. She immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 1990, met her husband Roberto and started a family, but with a poor command of English she felt somewhat isolated in New York.

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She was pregnant with her daughter Dayamara and her son Andy was 4 years old when she was referred to the Children’s Aid Society’s P.S. 5 Early Head Start Program.  There she became an active participant in the Family Room and took workshops on family life and how to understand the Department of Education.

The Early Head Start program taught her about educational, emotional and physical development which helped her raise her children and ensure their academic success.  Her children attended Summer Camp at Wagon Road, and received medical care at our Clinic. With a deep knowledge of Children’s Aid programs, Nayady was hired to work in the Extended Day Program to help other families.

Fast forward 15 years and she is now working at P.S. 5 as the Parent Coordinator where she teaches parents how to access the same resources that have helped her.  Her family also gives back to Children’s Aid and their community.  Both Nayady’s daughter Dayamara, and husband Roberto volunteer for the Early Head Start Program and her mother is part of the program for Grandmothers. “CAS is my second home.”

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

Photo by Ben Russell

Special Miracle Activities To Kick Off Your Holiday Shopping and Help Children in Need

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and that can only mean one thing: it is time to get those holiday shopping lists ready. Shop at over 75 participating stores on Sunday, December 6th as part of the Miracle on Madison Avenue, and your holiday gifts will go even further– 20% of the cost of your purchases will be donated to The Children’s Aid Society to support health services for children.

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Shopping at New York City’s best stores isn’t the only thing Miracle on Madison Avenue has to offer. You can also enjoy special Miracle Activities in the Hospitality Tent on Madison Avenue and 69th Street and the CBS-FM Radio Tent on Madison Avenue and 71st Street.

There will be delicious food tastings courtesy of The Carlyle Restaurant and giveaways courtesy of GLOWELLE® Beauty Supplement Drink,

M&M’S® Brand PREMIUMS Chocolate Candies and Mini Babybel® Cheese and more.

You can purchase unique holiday wreaths and holiday cards designed by kids. You can also enjoy the sights and sounds of live musical performances. Please see the schedule of performances below.

1 p.m.—The Pipes of Christmas, presented by the Clan Currie Society

2 p.m.—The Labor of Love Ensemble

3 p.m.—COBU, Inc.

4 p.m.—Figgy Puddynge

So join us for Miracle on Madison Avenue, Sunday, December 6th from 12-5 PM and shop to help New York City children!

Day of Giving with the Knicks

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jeffries On Thursday, November 19th, Jared Jeffries of the New York Knicks, The Garden of Dreams Foundation and The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. brightened the day of many families of The Children’s Aid Society.

Jeffries kicked off the Day of Giving with a visit to the Dunlevy Milbank Center’s daycare program and stocked the center’s food pantry which serves needy families year round. Baby food, car seats, strollers and other products were also handed out to families.

In the afternoon Jeffries along with a few teammates, the Knicks City Dancers and Irwin Simon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial, handed out 300 all-natural Plainville Farms® turkeys to families serviced by Children’s Aid for their Thanksgiving Day meals. knicks

As the adults gathered their turkeys and other items, the children danced and participated in basketball drills with Knicks volunteers. Occasionally, the 6’11” Knicks star Jeffries would give some of our littlest players a boost up to the net to score a slam dunk. “The Children’s Aid is a great thing and I always try to come out and support it whenever I am in New York…I think this is one of the best opportunities for kids to come out and spend time together, I am glad I can be a part of it,” said Jeffries.

Changing the Statistics on Teen Pregnancy

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The topic of teen pregnancy prevention has been around so long that I wonder if we sometimes lose site of the terrible statistics behind this issue:

86 adolescents become pregnant every hour of every day

50 adolescents give birth every hour of every day

24 adolescents terminate pregnancies every hour of every day

457 adolescents contract STDs every hour of every day

Teen pregnancy and its far reaching ramifications on the teens,  the children born to these teens, and society as a whole is very much in the sights of national funding priorities.  We are pleased to report that our Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (APPP) has just been found to meet Top Tier evidence of effectiveness standards by The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.

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This is an initiative, being reviewed by Congress, which identifies social program models that meet these criteria as a way to identify which programs should receive federal funds. The Children’s Aid Carrera program could potentially receive public funding for the first time in its existence as a result of this finding, meaning the program could expand greatly in coming years.

We truly hope this assessment will broaden the reach of our APPP program which currently has replications in New York, Baltimore, District of Columbia, Atlanta, Toledo and Flint, and reduces pregnancies by 50% in the communities served.  That’s a much better statistic to work with.

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

Who’s Buzzing about Miracle?

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In late September, Tamara Tunie of Law & Order: SVU & event chair of the 2009 Miracle on Madison Avenue taped a segment for Citybuzz at the Madison Avenue store Max Mara, a Miracle participant.

Citybuzz is a program that gives you the “buzz” on restaurants, night life and shopping in New York City.  Tamara spoke about the miracle that will happen on Madison Avenue on December 6th when stores between 57th and 86th streets will donate 20% of their sales to the Health Services of The Children’s Aid Society. The program airs on television, select air and cruise lines and nearly 200 New York City hotels.

Join us for our 23rd Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue shopping extravaganza which will take place on Sunday, December 6, 2009 from 12-5 PM. Miracle merchants donate 20% of their sales for the day to Children’s Aid and we in return will provide vital health services to underserved children in New York City! Wouldn’t it be great if every gift you bought this holiday season went just a little farther?  Save the Date and Save a Child!

Needing Proof, She Had Indeed Embraced a New Home

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has recently featured this Children’s Aid story about Carmen Cruz, a native of Cuba, and how she received help replacing her original citizenship papers.  Below is an excerpt from the original article.

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Carmen Cruz with Christian, 7, the son of a friend. The native of Cuba received help replacing her original citizenship papers.

It took all of three hours for Carmen Cruz to decide to leave her homeland behind in exchange for a new life in the United States.

It was June 1991, and Mrs. Cruz was visiting her daughter and granddaughter in New York, on her first trip out of her native Cuba. Her daughter had fled during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, and a decade later devoted a year’s efforts and extra earnings toward persuading the Cuban government to let her mother leave the country for a visit. To prepare, Mrs. Cruz, who had never flown before, took puddle-jumper flights between cities in Cuba, squeezing her eyes shut during every takeoff and landing, whispering to herself, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die.”

New York City’s bustle amazed her — “I loved the freedom,” she said.

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 Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The Value of Philanthropy – Teaching Kids to Give Back

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Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

John F. Kennedy

Everything boils down to education. When we teach our children to value themselves, they learn to value others.  Teaching kids to care is the greatest gift that we can bestow upon them.  It helps them understand how to balance their own needs with the needs of those around them – family, friends, and teachers. CASFRI1120

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing kids helping kids: our young fifth graders, the All-Star Givers, at Washington Heights-based P.S. 152 raised over $1100 from spare change as part of Common Cents Penny Harvest, the largest child philanthropy program in the US. Our Teen Action Club collected almost 1,000 cans of food for local food pantries, winning them free airline tickets, which they used to fly to Las Vegas, not for a part to help another nonprofit clean up graffiti and clear our parking lots! They understand firsthand that they can make a difference when they work together. CASFRI11201

At The Children’s Aid Society , we strongly encourage our youth to engage in philanthropic efforts, through community school programs and teen initiatives, like our Bronx Youth Council, where middle and high school students actively participate in neighborhood issues that directly affect them.  Issues such as gang violence, mental health, education and hunger are some of the problems they face in their community.  Each student chooses a specific issue, makes it his or her own personal cause and, at the end of each year presents a recommended plan of action to peers, teachers and government officials alike.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Kahlil Gibran

Philanthropy and community involvement builds character, fosters a strong sense of compassion, and transforms young people into just and benevolent leaders. And – it simply feels good to help others!  But our kids have already figured that one out!