The Children's Aid Blog

Children’s Aid AmeriCorps Team Completes 24-Hour Service Challenge!

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Recently five members of our AmeriCorps program completed a 24-Hours of Service Challenge. The team consisted of Nicole Vanterpool, Samanatha Pena, Yatnery Almonte, and Marielle Rodriguez, all of whom serve as trainers with the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The day started at 8 a.m. at the TGIM Bronx Impact Community Giveback event, where our volunteers helped set up and then keep the booths running smoothly. The event brought together children and families of the community, featuring live musical performances, arts and crafts, and read-alouds. Participants received a free backpack, clothing, and food giveaways.

Next, our fearless team headed over to Randall's Island to lend their efforts to the 2nd annual Moonwalk hosted by Walk the Walk America, an organization that raises breast cancer awareness and supports breast cancer initiatives. After more live music and other activities, walkers tackled either a full or half marathon, many of them sporting festive, decorated pink bras.

Weary but feeling accomplished, the Children’s Aid team finally closed out their own marathon on Sunday morning, having completed 26 hours of service!!!

Equipped to Succeed

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Having access to technology is becoming increasingly important to success at school. But technology doesn’t come cheap. Many of the youth we serve are at a disadvantage because computer gear is often out of reach.

The good people at SAP wanted to make a dent in this problem. They have donated 25 laptop computers that we’ve distributed to some of the youth in our programs. The computers come loaded with Microsoft Office, ensuring that these young people can get to work immediately.

One of those young people is Kevin Martinez. He’s a rising senior on pace to graduate from high school next June. He emigrated to New York four years ago, and he’s thrilled to receive a computer:

I plan to utilize this laptop for school work and to help my little brother, who struggles with his school work. I’ll be able to type my essays and not have to go to the library anymore. [Since I came to the U.S.] I’ve been able to academically achieve and work hard to help my mom and siblings out. My goal is to go to college and one day become an architect.

Thank you so much for this gift. It means so much to me.

Yes, thank you, SAP, for giving these young people the tools to help them succeed.

Hope Students Win National Schwab Scholarship

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On July 22, three young women from the Hope Leadership Academy visited the Charles Schwab branch next to Madison Square Park to accept a prestigious award as well as checks enormous in their physical size as well as dollar amount. Nyuma Gumaneh, Ciarra Leocadio, and Chamylah General won Schwab Money Matters scholarships after successfully completing the “Money Matters: Make It Count” curriculum at Hope, and demonstrating outstanding financial literacy skills. Schwab awarded just 15 scholarships nationally in this competitive program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America and the Charles Schwab Foundation.

Schwab staff members presented Nyuma and Ciara each with a $2,500 check, and Chamylah with a $1,000 check. Ciarra will apply her scholarship money toward costs at Vanderbilt University, where she will enroll this fall to study biology and pre-medicine. Nyuma and Chamylah also plan on using the scholarship money toward financing their college education when they start their freshman years in the fall of 2015.

They had a chance to participate in a roundtable with the Schwab employees, and shadowed financial advisors to learn more about the banking industry and see firsthand what a typical day is like at the branch. 

Congratulations to these young women for their outstanding accomplishments, and thank you to the Charles Schwab Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of America! Click here to view pictures from the check presentation ceremony this morning.

Jana Partners' Volunteers Lend Green-Thumb to Go!Healthy Program

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JANA Partners did it again! This is the third year the firm’s employees have volunteered to work on the Go!Healthy initiative that educates kids and adolescents about wellness and nutrition.

On July 8, volunteers came out to P.S. 50 in East Harlem to give the site a much-needed facelift. Green-thumbed gardeners helped to dig up, plant, and water the flower garden, while carpenters built boxes to house vegetable garden beds in the playground. Still more JANA employees livened up both the playground and the kitchen with a fresh coat of paint.

This is the third Go!Healthy site that JANA Partners has had a hand in improving. The group still supports C.S. 61, where they built a rooftop garden in 2012, and Goodhue Center, where they planted a garden in 2013.

Thank you, JANA Partners, for all that you do for these kids.

Citi Volunteers Keeping Wagon Road in Top Shape

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On June 7, The Children’s Aid Society was thrilled to welcome nearly 60 Citi volunteers to our Wagon Road Camp in Chappaqua, NY, for Citi’s 2014 Global Community Day. Volunteers from many areas of Citi, including bankers, branch managers, and technology, rolled up their sleeves to help prepare our camp for its summer season.

After a rousing pep talk, Citi volunteers got ready to get to work! Volunteers organized into teams and chose from a variety of projects – from staining fences and decks, patching holes in the athletic field with top-of-the-line-soil, to re-sanding the camp’s horse corral and wood chipping.

The work was arduous but Citi volunteers were more than up to the task. They had over 110 tons of top soil, sand and wood chips and eight gallons of paint and stain to work with. And they did it all with sweat on their backs and smiles on their faces.

In just a matter of hours, the volunteers made a big dent in completing these large-scale projects. “You really made this all happen,” Eddie Mezger, Wagon Road’s foreman told the volunteers at the end of the day.

Citi also covered the cost of all supplies, including some high-quality products Children’s Aid would otherwise go without, noted Kat Connelly, our director of volunteer services.

Citi’s dedicated volunteers came from near and far to lend a helping hand, making the day a great success.

 “It’s really special to have people from all different parts of the company coming together for a common purpose,” said Rosemary Byrnes, senior program officer at the Citi Foundation.

“The day is important,” she continued, because “it allows us to work with a partner we have a strong relationship with and further develop our engagement with them.”  

And doing more means our high-needs kids have a place of respite. Keeping Wagon Road in top shape is challenging but crucial—hundreds of children look forward to camp each year. Support from our partners, like Citi, helps make it possible.

Thank you, Citi, and your incredible volunteers!

What is Your Child Doing This Summer?

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No doubt about it—summer is here! Just days ago, New York City schools dismissed children for the next two months. Even the best planners may still be looking to fill their kids’ calendars. For those people, we have great news: several Children’s Aid camps throughout New York City have open slots still available, including in Staten Island, East Harlem, and Washington Heights.

Most of these camps are in session for six weeks or more (but those interested should check with site coordinators or program directors for specific dates). All of them offer a wide range of activities, including field trips, art, dance, and sports and recreation. Most importantly, they offer academic enrichment activities so children don’t suffer summer learning loss.

And there’s even better news: these camps are FREE.

So don’t waste any time. Call these sites to sign children up today:

I.S. 61 – William A. Morris (for students of I.S. 61 who just finished grades 6 and 7)
445 Castleton Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10301
Tel. 718-727-8481
Lester Feuerstein, Site Coordinator

P.S. 8 Luis Belliard
465 West 167th Street
New York, NY 10032
Tel. 212-740-8655
Alondra Garcia, Program Director

P.S. 50 - Vito Marcantonio
433 East 100th Street
New York, NY 10029
Tel. 212-860-0299
Traciz Geraldo, Program Director

Mirabal Sisters Campus
21 Jumel Place (at 168th Street)
New York, NY 10032
Tel. 646-867-6066
Tiffani Lawson, Program Director

Celebrating Our AmeriCorps Graduates

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On Tuesday, June 24, The Children’s Aid Society celebrated the AmeriCorps members who have completed their terms at various schools throughout NY. These graduates have been essential with their work as assistant facilitators, outreach coordinators, and student success mentors helping both parents and students better navigate the school year.

After an inspirational speech by guest speaker Abe Fernandez, director of collective impact at Children’s Aid, members were invited to walk across the stage as program directors and staff applauded them for their accomplishments throughout the past year.

The graduate’s supervisors nominated members at their site who showed great initiative and embodied Children’s Aid ICREATE values. Trying to pick just one winner proved too difficult given the impressive pool of nominees. In the end, three graduates received Member of the Year Awards: Joel Marte, Nakeisha Vanterpool, and D’Arcy Hearn. Congratulations to the winners and all our nominees.

Later, host site directors received accolades for their hard work as well. AmeriCorps staff nominated those who inspired them with their commitment and dedication to the students and programs. P.S. 152’s supervisor, Merody Mejia, took home the title of AmeriCorps Supervisor of The Year. 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a slideshow documented the year’s highlights while members and guests flocked to the AmeriCorps Photo Booth, where props made photo opps silly and fun.

Thanks to all our site supervisors, whose efforts and cooperation made the AmeriCorps program a critical success.

Finally, huge thanks go out to the AmeriCorps graduates. Their achievements and growth over the past term impressed all. In the future, they will go on to accomplish even greater things, and we hope that they will always look back fondly on the Children’s Aid AmeriCorps program.

In Memoriam - Herman Bagley

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Weeks ago, on May 16, our dear friend and colleague Herman Bagley passed away. Herman retired from Children’s Aid in 2005 after an exceptional 50-year career, during which he worked his way up from a counselor at Camp Wallkill to ultimately serving as the assistant executive director for community, a position that made him one of the most prominent faces of our organization. During his tenure, he helped change the lives of literally thousands of children.

On Tuesday, June 24, all Children’s Aid employees as well as friends of Herman’s are invited to celebrate his life, the friendship he offered, and the deep and broad impact that he had on this city. Please join us at the Frederick Douglass Center (885 Columbus Ave., at 104th St.). A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a service and remarks.

Making College a Reality

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The Stern Memorial Scholarship Luncheon is truly a rite of early summer. Like so many traditions, certain pieces and circumstances will vary from year to year but the end result is reassuringly consistent.

That result is yet another collection of young women and men who have proven resilient in the face of overwhelming challenges and who offer powerful inspiration because of their success in reaching for excellence. Every year, they lift us by proving that zip codes don’t determine destiny.

The Stern family—represented on this day by Rob and Yuka Stern and their son, Ren—continues to generously fund two critical scholarships that year in and year out make a college education reality for some very talented New York City teenagers. The Jean L. Stern Memorial Scholarship is a tribute to her service to The Children’s Aid Society as a longtime trustee. Providing financial assistance for college-bound young people was a passionate commitment for her. And she was the one to establish the Wick Stern Memorial Scholarship, to honor the memory of her son by celebrating eight students who have demonstrated courage and perseverance, and overcome obstacles in pursuit of their higher education.

This year’s winners, who will attend a number of excellent schools next year, such as Vanderbilt University, Ithaca College, Daemon College, and Gettysburg College, are:

The Jean L. Stern Memorial Scholarship:

  • Terrell Dixon - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS
  • Alexa Laboy - Hope Leadership Academy
  • Brandon Michael - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS
  • Denny Pena - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS

The Wick Stern Memorial Scholarship:

  • Kenny Alarcon - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School
  • Ruth Alozie - CAS Carrera Program
  • Beatrice Denkyi - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School
  • Aiesha Hibbert - CAS Carrera Program
  • Khaddya Jobe - Hope Leadership Academy
  • Ciarra Leocadio - Hope Leadership Academy
  • Shailon Pinder - Hope Leadership Academy
  • Idania Ramirez - Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School

Many thanks to the Stern family and all of the scholars who inspire us with their fortitude.

Parents Making the Right Choice

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For 28 years, The Children's Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) has been helping parents navigate the talks they have with their children about their sexuality, through the Parent Family Life & Sexuality Education program (PFLSE). On Friday, June 6, CAS-Carrera held its most recent graduation ceremony, at Hunter College, for dozens of parents who hoped to, and will do, a better job at guiding their children.

PFLSE is a multi-week workshop that provides dozens of parents from Harlem, the South Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn with knowledge and strategies on how to become more actively involved in their child’s sexual development. The bilingual program, led by CAS-Carerra educators along with peer support from promotores (trained community educators), urges parents to be open and supportive when their children have questions.

Dr. Michael A. Carrera launched CAS-Carrera in 1984, and the PFLSE program two years later.  As he does every year, Dr. Carrera reminded the parent graduates that “they are the primary sexuality educators of their own children—they have no choice about it. Their only choice is how well or poorly they do it.”