The Children's Aid Blog

Juggling a Long Commute and 2 Children With Disabilities

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 The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Marlene Minto to make ends meet when her income did not rise to meet her increasing expenses.

Late one afternoon, Marlene Minto sat her two children down at the dining table and stood over them as they began their homework. A nurse’s assistant, she still had on her scrubs, with her ID card hanging from a green clip shaped like a frog. It was early into what she could call her second shift.

Ms. Minto had her son, Joedan, 10, read aloud from a book. Then she turned her attention to her daughter, Chelsea, 5.

“What’s this?” she asked, pointing to a shape on a page.

"Rectangle," Chelsea said.

"Yes," Ms. Minto said, nodding in approval.

Ms. Minto starts most days at 4:30 a.m., quietly getting ready for work and laying out the children’s clothes for the day in the bedroom they all share. Once her baby sitter arrives, she commutes for an hour by train and bus from the West Farms section of the Bronx to the nursing home in Baychester where she works. By 6 a.m., she is helping patients to bathe, dress, eat and whatever else they need done.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

James Brown Family Children Foundation Brings Holiday Cheer to Harlem

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Deanna Brown-Thomas, President of the James Brown Family Children Foundation continued the legacy of her father James Brown (The Godfather of Soul) on December 21, 2011 by conducting a holiday party for the children from the Drew Hamilton Learning Center and Dunlevy Milbank Campus. The event was held at the Harlem Lanes and the children and their families were treated to a delightful afternoon of bowling, the music of James Brown, face painting, snacks, Santa who delivered a shopping bag filled with incredible gifts to each child, and a surprise visit by Jaheim.

The Drew Hamilton Learning Center children were accompanied by their parents/grandparents and staff. This was our first family outing and the parents networked, had fun, learned how to bowl and spent quality time with their children. They were thrilled with the bowling and many of them will return to Harlem Lanes and have added this as one of their family health goals for the year. This is an event that our families will not forget!

Special thanks to the James Brown Family Children Foundation for making a difference in the lives in the lives of our children and families. We look forward to Mrs. Deanna Brown-Thomas and members of the James Brown Family Children Foundation visiting our sites in the future.

Photo credit: Donna Chandler

WE CARE Celebrates 15 Years Supporting our Community

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On Friday, December 9, 2011, The Boys and Girls Club of America and Herman Miller teamed up with 20 other interior design firms to present We Care, providing unique arts and crafts creations to children at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Center. The event marked 15 years of We Care in the community, providing children with creative gifts for their friends and families.

Some of the coolest craft ideas from the event included “Sand Art Cookies,” a two-part gift, designed by the global architecture firm Gensler, that starts off resembling sand art in a jar, but is actually composed of the dry ingredients to make home-made oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. Design firm HOK helped children decorate snowman scarves. Volunteers from Mancini Duffy helped children decorate wooden jewelry boxes. Environetics, a New York Design firm, brought in hundreds of gingerbread man cookies and provided icings and colors to help children decorate their own personal cookies.

We Care is a nonprofit business partnership that unites The Boys and Girls Club of America and Herman Miller, Inc. with some of the nation’s leading interior design firms. The day of seasonal celebration included a variety of craft stations where children created holiday gifts for their friends and families. Each year, the city’s foremost interior design firms develop unique craft ideas to benefit children at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Center.

Garden of Dreams Foundation and NY Rangers Wives Distribute Coats in East Harlem

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For the fourth consecutive year, Garden of Dreams Foundation and NY Rangers wives helped distribute warm coats and holiday cheer to young people at The Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center on Thursday, December 15, 2011. Children took the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of great quality coats donated to the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

The children then had a chance to strut their stuff in a fashion show, presenting their new coats to an audience of fellow students, parents, Garden of Dreams Foundation representatives, and Children’s Aid staff. The children showed off more than 30 different coats, including leather jackets, down trench coats and warm fluffy designer coats.  

The Garden of Dreams Foundation and NY Rangers wives collected more than 300 donated coats  for this annual event benefitting youth in need living in Harlem. The Garden of Dreams Foundation also brought along an MSG video crew who captured highlights from this year’s event. 

The Children’s Aid Society’s Associates Council’s MADHoliday Party Raises $10,000

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Written by Evita Torre, Associates Council - Executive Committee Member

On Thursday, December 8, 2011, nearly 100 guests attended The Children’s Aid Society’s Associates Council’s MADHoliday Party at Sutra Lounge in the East Village. More than $10,000 was raised to enhance the holidays of New York’s neediest children.

Donned in their fanciest 50s and 60s finery, Mad Men-attired attendees swayed to the smooth sounds of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole mixed by DJ N8 aka Nate Soria (an Executive Committee Member of the AC as well as the AC Communications Chair). Nate, a man of many talents, also used his MAD skills to design all promotional materials. Guests also enjoyed delectable Mediterranean treats provided by Agata & Valentina. Before boogieing to the beats of The Temptations and The Supremes, The Children’s Aid Society’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Weisberg graciously thanked guests for their generosity and support.

No party would be complete without prizes—Best Dressed went to Dana Reder, who was donned in a polka-dot dress, leopard jacket, and an elegant up-do. Among the 45+ raffle prizes, some of the most coveted raffle items, announced by MADHoliday Co-Chairs and Executive Committee Members, Veronique Colaprete and Tracey Beal, were dinner for two at Beauty & Essex, deluxe hair services at Arrojo, an all-access membership pass to Equinox, and dinner at Red Rooster. Everyone left a winner with a fabulous gift bag donated by RED PR.

Special thanks to Ariel Palitz, owner of Sutra Lounge, “Account Executive” Major Donors—Elisa Roupenian and Allied Beverage Group via Jeffrey Altschuler, and event supporters Zuzana and Peter Colaprete, Chris Ade, Gary Murphy, Pat Grayson, Joseph Emmets, Lauren Melkus, Michael Keane, Jeffrey Borck, Joshua McLean, and Doug and Lynn Borck.

A Hogs & Heifers Holiday Party To Remember

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Written by Alirio Guerrero, Director of Preventive Services

This past Sunday December 11th you might have heard the thundering sounds of nearly 100 motorcycles driving up the Westside Highway to deliver gifts and holiday fun to the children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Preventive Services Program.

This year we were so fortunate to have partnered with Michelle Dell, President of Hogs & Heifers Saloon New York City and her amazing staff (Kelly and all the other Heifers) and their customers. Their generosity and energy was overwhelming, from their commitment to the event, to the donations of money and toys and to the time they spent with our families on Sunday.

The day started with the parade of the volunteers on their motorcycles rumbling into the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem delivering toys and gifts for everyone. Then the Preventive Services team and the Hogs & Heifers team got busy making sure this would be a Holiday Party everyone would remember. There were arts and crafts, face painting, manicures and stockings that were airbrushed with each child’s name by one of the artistic Hogs, renowned artist, Mickey Harris.

There was a mountain of toys to choose from and the children's faces lit up when they could take home they toy they had been dreaming of. A catered holiday dinner was served to the families by the Preventive Services team and all the Hogs & Heifers volunteers.

The fun and excitement of the day could only be topped by the arrival of Santa who arrived, Hogs & Heifers style, on his motorcycle rolling into the gymnasium to everyone's delight.

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 of the Hogs & Heifers touched many lives on Sunday. 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.

We look forward to more events with the Hog & Heifer's organization and hope they know the incredible impact they made on our families and The Children's Aid Society. Visit this event's photogallery to view more photos.

Photos by Lily Kesselman

Partnership Helps Parents Navigate Immigration Issues

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Throughout communities served by The Children’s Aid Society, lack of legal and immigration knowledge can hinder a family’s ability to fully establish themselves in New York City. Thanks to collaboration with the City Bar Justice Center and the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), many were able to meet with volunteer attorneys at the 8th Annual Immigration Clinic at the Mirabal Sisters Campus in Washington Heights on Tuesday, December 6th.

At this clinic, parents learned about the citizenship process as well as how to bring relatives to the U.S. For immigrants who are undocumented, this is a special opportunity to meet with lawyers to discuss their specific issues privately and free of charge.

As a result of last year’s clinics, P.S. 152, also a Children’s Aid Community School in Washington Heights, reports that 23 of their parents were able to adjust their immigration status to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Partnerships like this help The Children’s Aid Society further its mission with critical assistance that stabilizes children’s lives. We are grateful to the City Bar Justice Center for their excellent professional support in this endeavor.

Top Chefs and Joyful Volunteers Serve Thanksgiving Dinner in Harlem

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For the 21st year in a row, the Food and Beverage Association of America prepared thanksgiving dinner for approximately 1,500 children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. On Wednesday, November 23rd, top chefs from some of New York’s finest hotels and restaurants cooked 275 turkeys, at 20 pounds each, along with all the trimmings.

Making this his 10th year serving Children’s Aid families at Milbank, Wayne Whinna, Director of Food and Beverage at The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, lead the culinary efforts once again. Gladys Mouton Di Stefano, President of the Food & Beverage Association, organized the dinner and coordinated all the donations for the 21st consecutive year. Also joining the efforts this year were students from Frederick Douglass Academy 1 who helped make this special occasion enjoyable for all in attendance.

As always, the youngest guests paraded into the Milbank gym where the dinner was being held wearing crisp chef hats. Also donning a hat this year was Richard R. Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, who helped serve dinner and visited with several CAS families.

Richard Buery Responds to New York State Tax Reform Agreement

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"The tax reform agreement between Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, which demands more from the wealthiest - albeit less than the current Personal Income Tax Surcharge - comes at a critical time for the most vulnerable children in New York City.  Especially during challenging economic times, it is essential that we protect investments in services for children and families who are currently living in the clutches of poverty," said The Children's Aid Society President and CEO Richard Buery. "As we move toward the state budget negotiation process, during which Albany will have to close a significant budget deficit, government must continue to keep its promise to protect our most vulnerable children and families. Only then will this prove to be a progressive tax reform strategy that is truly fair."

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Early Childhood Curriculum Featured on WNYC

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A lot more than play time is taking place at The Children’s Aid Society’s Frederick Douglass Center in Harlem. Children in this early childhood program are using play to set the foundation to make them better learners. The dramatic play activities in the Head Start classroom allow the children to create their own imaginary worlds and teach them to regulate their own social, emotional and cognitive behavior as well as that of their classmates.  This work is done as part of the Tools of the Mind curriculum, an early childhood program that helps build the skills necessary for successful learning by training children to self-regulate.

Beth Fertig’s radio report on WNYC takes its listeners into this Tools classroom at the CAS Harlem center to see the curriculum in action. Ms. Fertig also interviewed Clancy Blair, an applied psychology professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development who is studying the Tools of the Mind curriculum.

Listen to the full WNYC report:

Click here for additional coverage via the New York Times School Book.