The Children's Aid Blog

Encouraging Health and Wellness Through Art

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Last month, the newly opened school based health center in Curtis High School in Staten Island held a student art contest of all mediums depicting "wellness" and "health". The health center displayed a total of 28 submissions during the month of December for students and staff to admire. The judges with the difficult task of selecting the winning art pieces were Curtis H.S. art teacher Emily Yoonsmith and Children's Aid Society's Hersilia Mendez, Director of External Affairs and Communications for Community Schools and Beverly Colon, Vice President, Health & Wellness Division. The winners are:

First place went to Jasmine Williams for her mental health artwork, “Serotonin.” Michel Ortega came in second place for his canvas of the human heart. In third place is Nathanael Cameron for his graphic art. Fourth place is being shared by Emine Akcay and Diana Nguyen.

Curtis High School will display the winning artwork in the school's lobby all this week. All of the talented entries will live on the walls of the student health center. The Children’s Aid Society appreciates the talent and participation of the students at Curtis High School in this Health and Wellness art contest.



Photos from left to right: First place winner Jasmine Williams, second place winner Michel Ortega, guest judge reviewing students art work.


Hogs & Heifers NYC Saloon Bring Christmas to Harlem

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Written by Alirio Guerrero, Director of Preventive Services

This past Sunday, on December 8, you might have noticed Santa Clause leading a caravan of nearly 50 motorcycles up the FDR highway to deliver gifts and holiday fun to the children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Preventive Services Program.

For the third year in a row, Michelle Dell-Ramsey, President of Hogs & Heifers Saloon New York City, her amazing staff and customers hosted an amazing holiday party at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem for 250 of our Upper Manhattan and Bronx clients. Guests enjoyed crafts, face painting and a delicious catered meal before having their photo taken with Santa. The children also took home custom airbrush designed stockings by “Horny” Mike and Ryan Evans of the History Channel’s reality show, “Counting Cars.”

What an amazing and heartwarming event. Words cannot express our appreciation to everyone who participated this year. A big thank you to my team at Preventive Services who helped organize and decorate the Milbank gym!

The generosity shown by Michelle Dell and all the Hogs & Heifers family has touched many lives. It was clear they received as much warmth and joy as they generously gave to our families. This event brought people together from all walks of life and provided one of those rare occasions when stereo-types were set aside and the real meaning of the season was enjoyed by everyone.

Visit this event's photogallery to view more photos.

Photos by Lily Kesselman


Children's Aid Opens New Staten Island Health Center

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Earlier this month, Children’s Aid hosted an opening ceremony for its first school-based health center (SBHC) in Staten Island, located at Curtis High School. The brand new state-of-the-art health center enables Children’s Aid to provide health and wellness services to Curtis’ student body of over 3,000.

The ceremony began with remarks from community leaders, who praised the health center for the positive impact it will have on the school and the community at large. Councilwoman Debi Rose from the 49th District spoke, and cited the Curtis SBHC as a model that all Department of Education schools should begin replicating. After the remarks, a ribbon-cutting was held, followed by tours of the new state-of-the-art center. When viewing the facility guests were also treated to a student art gallery, which decorated the hallways of the clinic.  

School-based health centers–health centers located inside public schools–offer many benefits to the students they serve regardless of insurance and immigration status. SBHCs reduce absenteeism; reduce the need to send students to emergency rooms (saving money and time for parents and the city and state); help students manage chronic diseases (such as asthma and diabetes) and greatly improve their overall well-being. Their location in the schools means that healthcare providers have frequent contact with the patients and can develop trusting relationships with them.

The Children’s Aid Society currently operates five SBHCs in New York City. The Curtis High School SBHC was built with generous funding provided by the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education; the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); private donors, foundations and local elected officials; and The Children’s Aid Society.


From the Associates Council: À la vôtre, Midnight in Paris!

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“America is my country, and Paris is my home town.” – Gertrude Stein

On a cold mid-November night, a cool New York crowd was transported to Midnight in Paris for the 17th annual Children’s Aid Society Associates Council’s fall fundraiser. The unique and beautiful ambiance of Preserve 24 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side set the scene for a fête of young professionals with mingling, music and magnificence! 

Guests enjoyed cocktails featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka, while waiters passed delectable hors d’oeuvres. New and old friends posed for pictures avec red lips and black mustaches – a must for any Parisian… bien sûr! 

Several lucky attendees won raffle prizes, including a fashion basket from Femme a la Mode, a romantic dinner for two at French restaurant Bobo and American Brasserie The Fourth and a Bakehouse gift card.  Other prizes included Yankee Memorabilia from Juex Sportifs, a luxurious spa package at ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ L'institut Sothys and five classes at Soul Cycle! 

The event raised $7,500 in support of Go!Healthy, an initiative that follows children from early childhood through adolescence and beyond, educating them about wellness, nutrition and healthy cooking.

Un grand MERCI à tout le monde – everyone who bought a ticket, attended the event or made a donation! And the event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our sponsors: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Four Roses Bourbon, and Preserve 24. Thank you for helping us bring Paris to New York “pour un petit moment!”  Your support means the world to us! 

Visit our blog for more information about Associate’s Council and our upcoming annual spring event. Á bientôt! 

Photography byTommy Peitz.

Grammy Winning Artist Ne-Yo Gives Back this Holiday Season

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Upon their return from Thanksgiving break, 250 Children’s Aid Society clients, ages 3 to 18, were treated to a special holiday visit at the Dunlevy Milbank Boys and Girls Club in Harlem. Grammy award-winning recording artist and song writer Ne-Yo began his annual “Giving Tour” on Monday, December 2 and made The Children’s Aid Society its first stop. The children were treated to snacks, gifts and music. Before heading home, they lined up to personally meet with Ne-Yo and have their photo taken, a la Santa Claus.

Ne-Yo, who attended a Boys and Girls Club himself while growing up in Las Vegas, founded the Compound Foundation to enhance the well-being of children in need. Each year, the Compound Foundation’s “Giving Tour” visits four different cities delivering holiday cheer and gifts to children.

Thousands Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner in Harlem

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Last Wednesday, the Food and Beverage Association of America prepared and served Thanksgiving dinner to approximately 2,000 children and families at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. Top chefs from some of New York’s finest hotels and restaurants cooked and served an estimated 250 turkeys, 20 pounds each, along with all the trimmings.

Wayne Whinna, director of Food and Beverage at The Sheraton New York Hotel & Tower and Executive Chef Joe Fontanals, led the culinary efforts once again. Gladys Mouton Di Stefano, president of both the Food & Beverage Association and At Your Service Party Consulting, organized the dinner and coordinated all the donations for the 23rd consecutive year.

As always, the Milbank Center's gym had a restaurant-style floor plan where families could dine together around flower centerpieces inspired by the holiday. The youngest guests donned crisp chef hats and lively music filled the room. Richard R. Buery, president and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, also joined this special event and helped serve dinner before he joined guests to enjoy a meal himself.

Photography by Lily Kesselman


Talking Transition: Every School a Community School

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Last week, The Children’s Aid Society took part in “Talking Transition”, a civic forum which brought together tens of thousands of New Yorkers, online and at its pop-up tent on Canal Street, to talk about the future of the city and how to shape the transition for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

On Tuesday, November 19th, The Children’s Aid Society discussed how New York City’s children and families can receive the supports and opportunities they need to succeed and thrive in school. Community schools, an educational reform strategy, remove barriers to learning by organizing the resources of schools and communities around student success. Attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the impact of community schools, view the story of community school graduate Chastity Salas and hear from a panel that included Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society.

Watch the video below.

Bundling up with BNY Mellon

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Now that the days are shorter and the weather colder, it's time to bundle up. Thanks to an energetic group of Bank of New York Mellon volunteers, over 200 early childhood and school age children at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem were fitted with new cold weather coats, courtesy of BNY Mellon through Operation Warm.

On Thursday, November 7, the volunteers set up a “Milbank Coat Shop” and served as personal shoppers for the students. Together, they searched for the right color and fit. Participants were encouraged to express their personal sense of style as they chose the perfect coat for the frosty months ahead.

This year’s coat distribution was an amazing display of corporate philanthropy, engagement and volunteerism by Children’s Aid partner, Bank of New York Mellon. The Children’s Aid Society welcomes corporate groups from across New York City to participate in volunteer projects such as gardening projects, mural painting, special events, financial literacy training and many others. We are so grateful to BNY Mellon for their generosity and to their employee volunteers who visited Milbank to bundle up our young people, and warm our hearts.

Finding “Forever” Families for Special Needs Children

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November is National Adoption Month, a time to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. Currently there are nearly 400,000 children in the United States foster care system. Every year, thousands of these children will age out of foster care without the love and support of a “forever” family.

Thirteen percent of all children served by this system have at least one documented disability. For those with a medical disability, emotional or behavioral disorder, the life-changing event of aging out can be catastrophic. 

At The Children’s Aid Society, our specialized teams in Family Foster Care, Medical Foster Care, Treatment Family Foster Care and services for teens who are “aging out” work tirelessly to bring security and stability to these children, either with a permanent home or with an adoptive family.

Over the past fiscal year ending June 30, the adoption unit at The Children’s Aid Society completed 97 adoptions. And so far, 28 adoptions have already been completed for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. What makes these numbers extra special is the success the Children’s Aid has had with finding permanent homes for children out of Medical and Treatment Family foster care.

“At The Children’s Aid Society, we continue to be very proud of the fact that included in our adoption numbers we have significant percentages of children adopted out of our special medical, developmental disabilities and treatment family foster care programs,” said Michael Wagner, director adoption and foster care at The Children’s Aid Society. “When these children are adopted by their foster parents, they benefit from having one less transition and that can make all the difference for their futures.”

As we mark November as National Adoption Month, The Children’s Aid Society has six additional children scheduled to finalize their adoptions this week in New York City’s Family Courts.

From the Associates Council: Friendraising Starts with Midnight in Paris

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When you watch Midnight in Paris, you watch the fantastic minds that defined modernism, hanging out in Gertrude Stein’s Paris apartment, creating culture that would impact generations to come. It’s a great reminder of the power of collaborating with impressive & inspiring people. And that’s what we are excited to do at our fall event – bring together awesome New Yorkers to show them the impact we can make together through The Children’s Aid Society.

Our goal at this event is to friendraise – in other words, to get people as excited as we are about The Children’s Aid Society. We’re looking for people who will partner with Children’s Aid to help grow and strengthen their amazing programs.  

As we get closer to the event, we wanted to share some tips on how you can help us friendraise this fall:

Share what excites you the most about The Children’s Aid Society. People will give their time and money to organizations they know and trust. There are so many great charities out there – why choose Children’s Aid? Think about key experiences you’ve had that will influence others to participate.

Show your friends the impact their gift will have. People are more interested in giving when they understand where the resources are going. This year, the Associates Council is raising money for the Go!Healthy program, an initiative that follows children from early childhood through adolescence and beyond, educating them about wellness, nutrition and healthy cooking. Kids who have gone through the program are more likely to choose an apple over candy as a snack and are more open to trying new foods at home. In addition to education, Go!Healthy provides healthy meals to approximately 1,500 children a day. Read more about their programs here.

Offer up multiple ways to get involved. People want to see that they can get involved and influence the organization, not just be a distant donor, but they may be afraid to make a large commitment upfront. An entry-level donation or volunteer experience will help people take that first step with Children’s Aid. Check out volunteer opportunities or learn more about joining the Associates Council.

So invite your friends to take the first step with The Children’s Aid Society by joining us on November 20th for Midnight in Paris – Associates Council style.

-- Stephanie Danzi, Associates Council Member