The Children's Aid Blog

Earth Day Every Day

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As spring is upon us, we turn our focus on our gardens as the weather begins to change from wintery to warm. And the Go!Healthy team at the Children’s Aid Society also focuses its efforts on preparing its community gardens. Since 2006, the Go!Healthy Gardens program supports the education of children around nutrition and healthy living with a “seed to table” approach. Last year, over 475 youth (K-12) participated in STEM-based gardening education through afterschool programs in Children’s Aid across 12 sites.

Through this program Go!Healthy has helped to transform school yards, underutilized community gardens, and rooftops into vibrant growing spaces for education and enjoyment. In this program, kids use the garden as a living laboratory, and are introduced to the pleasures of growing, harvesting, and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables directly from their gardens. Some topics covered include pollination, soil, seeds, plant morphology, and photosynthesis. In addition, the ingredients from the garden are used by youth from across Go!Healthy programs to support their culinary adventure.

This spring, be on the lookout for Go!Healthy gardening events across Children’s Aid sites. For more information, please join the Go!Healthy Facebook group.

Follow Go!Healthy on Instagram

For more information about the Go!Healthy program please contact: Alyson Abrami, Director of Food and Nutrition Programs.

 

A People’s Visit: From the South Bronx to Washington D.C.

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Students from Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School and Children’s Aid after-school programs in the Bronx recently visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC). We gave each student a disposable camera to document the trip from their perspective. Take a look through their lenses.

The visit to the NMAAHC, which opened last September, was made possible by Roosevelt Smith, a friend of Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School.

To learn more about the NMAAHC, explore #APeoplesJourney on social media and visit https://nmaahc.si.edu

Basketball Skills and Scholarships

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Thirty youth from various Children’s Aid programs participated in the Elite Basketball Event at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem last Wednesday. This is the 10th year for the basketball showcase and the second it was hosted by the Children’s Aid POWER (Providing Opportunities, Wellness, Education, and Resources) Program. For the first time, three scholarships were awarded to college-bound seniors during the event.

“I grew up here, starting at age 7,” said Milbank alum and Children’s Aid donor Tarik McDermott, who provided the scholarships. “This was a place for me to be productive and stay off the streets. It was a safe haven.”

POWER seeks to leave a lasting impact on adolescents by equipping them with the skills to thrive and lead healthy lives. It hosts the annual Elite Basketball Event to promote basketball as a positive alternative and prevention tool for adolescents in our community while recognizing our young people for academic excellence, community service, and leadership. Scholarship recipients included Ilda Mercado, Elyjah Marrero, and Anahi Cacerres.

“We’re providing a safe space where these kids can be themselves and not end up in jail, not gripped by substance abuse, and not participating in risky behavior,” explained program manager Asari Offiong. “In POWER youth can be individuals, having fun doing the things they like to do.”

Springtime at Children’s Aid

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There’s no more definitive a mark of Spring than Easter. Children’s Aid trustee Eren Rosenfeld, decided to kick off springtime by decorating some stunning Easter eggs, which she exchanged with her colleagues at BlackRock as part of our first Easter Egg drive. Together they raised funds for Children’s Aid programs and services. Thanks to Eren and her colleagues for their colorful support!

25 Years and Still Going Strong

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In 1992, Children’s Aid launched a program that seemed, at the time, experimental and cutting edge: we put counselors, a doctor, and other human services into a school. We called it a community school.

When this happened at I.S. 218, in Washington Heights, David Dinkins was the mayor, the vast majority of people had no idea what email was, and a gallon of gas was $1.05. Things have changed, but our conviction remains that children, youth, and families are best positioned to succeed when you provide them with easy access to the tools and resources that build well-being.

Last week, more than 100 people—current students, community school alums, Children’s Aid staff current and former, education activists, and more—gathered in Morningside Heights to celebrate the rich history of community schools and the belief that the best is yet to come.

“There is always a way when you know what you’re doing is right,” said Judy Dimon, a longtime supporter of Children’s Aid community schools. “Everyone here has demonstrated the power of community schools.”

The community school strategy is all about partnership. Without it, they won’t succeed, nor will the young people who depend on the help they get through their community school. We’re committed to this strategy the boundless potential of our children and youth.  

The Associates Council Hosts Their Seventh Annual Spring Benefit

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On Thursday, March 30, the Associates Council held their Seventh Annual Spring Benefit at the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue. This flagship fundraising initiative brought together over 160 glammed-up guests ready to enjoy an evening full of tasty hors d’oeuvres, a premium and plentiful open bar, and a luxury raffle with nearly 30 opportunities to walk away with a fabulous prize. Adorned with navy and white paper lanterns and delicate, spring flowers, the Manhattan Penthouse and its breathtaking views served as the perfect backdrop for our spring soiree. Guests were treated to the musical stylings of DJ Benny Blaze, a lively photo booth courtesy of Say Cheese Rentals, and mouthwatering cupcakes from both Sprinkles and Molly’s Cupcakes. Our liquor sponsors - Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Brooklyn Brewery, and Wolffer Estate – treated us to delicious adult beverages, and we were also fortunate to have Marcus Photography supporting our event through their team of expert photographers.

The program began with a welcome from Maggie Taplett and Lauren Wisniewski, our hardworking co-chairs of the Spring Benefit. They thanked key supporters and attendees, and then introduced Drema Brown, vice president of the School Age Division, who shared a brief yet inspiring message about the importance of after-school programming and how events such as these raise critical funding for our programs.

Net proceeds from this year’s Spring Benefit are going to support the services and programs of the Children’s Aid School Age Division. Serving more than 10,000 children and families each year, this division supports the healthy and successful development of children during their elementary and middle school years, both during and after the school day as well as on weekends. Programs cover a spectrum of disciplines, including scholastics, arts, athletics, and leadership and career development. By the end of the night, the event had raised over $37,000!

At this time, we’d like to thank Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, our Bronze sponsor, for their continued support and the following in-kind donors for making our raffle truly exceptional:

  • Alex and Ani
  • Alton Lane
  • Bandier
  • Birddogs
  • Blue Coral Swimwear
  • Casper
  • COVRY Sunglasses
  • The Daily Show
  • Emmy Squared
  • Equinox
  • Flywheel
  • Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Spa
  • The Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc.
  • Hersha Hospitality Management
  • Highview Realty
  • In Transit
  • John Allan’s
  • Li-Lac
  • Lo & Sons
  • McKay Williamson
  • The McKittrick Hotel
  • Murray’s Cheese
  • New York Health & Racquet Club
  • The National Hockey League
  • NOTE Cosmetics
  • Paintbox
  • Le Parker Meridien
  • Quality Branded Restaurants
  • Rustico Cooking
  • Southwest Airlines
  • S&P Global
  • Uplift Studios

And finally, to our guests and friends, we thank you for your generosity and for choosing Children’s Aid. Your continued support ensures that children and youth receive the particular supports and services they need to grow, learn, and succeed. We couldn’t do this work without you.

Until next time!

Check out some select photos from the event here.

 

 

A Night of Inspiration

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Spring has finally sprung in New York City. For some, that means smelling the flowers in bloom or stowing away those winter boots. Here at Children’s Aid we look forward to the annual Garden of Dreams Foundation Talent Show where some of our most inspiring young people have the opportunity to let their artistic abilities shine. And this year’s show, held at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, April 3, was no exception.

The night opened with a number by the Garden of Dreams Alumni Choir, which includes Timolyn Benton, who showcased her skills back in 2015 and now serves as a mentor to other performers.  The evening’s group acts featured the Mirabal Sisters Dancers, The Children’s Aid Society Chorus, and Emmanuelle Collado and The Children’s Aid Society Junior Chorus, while Enmanuel Delarosa dazzled the audience (almost 6,000 people strong!) with his rendition of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good,” and Timolyn joined fellow Children’s Aid representatives Hennessy Germosen and Idania Quezada, along with O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge (via video), for a beautiful take on the band’s song “Peace.”

As an organization, we couldn’t be more proud of all of our young people who took to the stage on Monday night. It takes an incredible amount of self-confidence, not to mention a healthy dose of discipline and bravery, to perform in front of thousands, sharing the art you love with a captive audience. To all of our young performers we say a heartfelt “Bravo!” 

Photo Credit: Zack Lane/MSG Photos

A Sweet Read for Every Child

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Our friends at Sweet Reads are as dedicated as we are to inspiring a love of reading early. Through a number of book drives, they have generously donated 1,078 new books to Children’s Aid, making it possible for every child in our early childhood services to take home a new book during National Reading Month. We couldn’t be more appreciative of their partnership, which helps us nurture strong, lifelong readers, one book at a time.

“We want to keep kids engaged and excited about reading so we look to keep their libraries replenished,” said Tamiko Hubbard, executive director of Sweet Reads. “We were excited to partner with Children’s Aid – it was a perfect fit, particularly for this month.”

Sweet Reads isn’t done yet. They hope to reach their goal of donating a total of 1,200 books to Children’s Aid before the end of March. If you are interested in helping Sweet Reads support Children’s Aid and other organizations, there are a couple of opportunities to donate books or your time.

Sweet Reads will also host a “Beauty and the Beast” book fair at Barnes & Noble, in Bridgewater, NJ, on April 1, which will feature story time, a tea party, and an appearance and from a special Disney princess. Families in attendance will also have the opportunity to win a “Beauty and the Beast” prize pack with a submitted Sweet Reads book fair voucher.

If you can't attend the book fair but would still like to support Sweet Read’s fundraising efforts,  a portion of your purchase at any Barnes & Noble bookstore or online will go to Sweet Reads if you provide book fair ID 12115648 at checkout.

You can find more details about Sweet Reads and their event on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweetreadsorg/

Celebrating the Impact

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In honor of National Social Work Month, we celebrate the men and women who are on the front lines every day with our children and their families.

Last week, the East Harlem Center’s gym was filled with friendly faces as we celebrated their vital efforts. President and CEO Phoebe Boyer paid tribute to our hardworking social workers. Inspiring words came from Sandra Escamilla-Davies and Georgia Boothe, our vice presidents of Adolescence and Child Welfare and Family Services, respectively.

While March may be over, Children’s Aid appreciates our diligent social workers every month. Thank you for your commitment and passion to the communities we serve.

A Leader in Health

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For the past several years on Friday mornings, Dr. Richard Besser has stopped by the Children’s Aid Dunlevy Milbank Medical Center to provide primary health care to our clients. Children, their parents, and Children’s Aid staff all looked forward to his visits, which he graciously made as a volunteer pediatrician. His kindness and depth of service was evident in the ways he went above and beyond the call of his medical oath to address each patient’s holistic needs—and replacing outgrown sneakers when needed. 

Dr. Besser extended his last visit to break bread with the staff that have been fortunate to work with him over these years. He has served as an invaluable friend to the Children’s Aid community, and we are incredibly excited to congratulate him on his new role as the new president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF is very fortunate to have gained a dedicated and passionate leader in health. While we will miss his presence on Fridays at Milbank, we greatly look forward to the work Dr. Besser will continue to do to keep all of our communities healthy.