Written by Alirio Guerrero, Director of Preventive Services
This past Sunday December 9, you might have noticed the caravan or heard the thundering sounds of nearly 80 motorcycles driving up the West Side Highway to deliver over 300 gifts and holiday fun to the children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Preventive Services Program.
For a second year in a row, we have been fortunate enough to partner with Michelle Dell, President of Hogs & Heifers Saloon New York City, her amazing staff 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 up the West Side Highway to the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem, delivering toys and gifts for everyone. The day continued with plenty of activities for the children such as arts and crafts, face painting and airbrushed personalized Holiday stockings by one of the artistic Hogs, renowned artist, Mickey Harris, who came in from Tennessee in a customized H &H Cadillac!
There were hundreds of toys to choose from and at the end of the day, the children left with something they had been wanting. A catered holiday dinner was served to the families by the Preventive Services team and all the Hogs & Heifers volunteers, including Michelle, who took her time to meet and greet everyone on the buffet line.
The fun and excitement of the day could only be topped by the arrival of Santa who rode in, Hogs & Heifers style, on his orange Harley Davidson -- right into the center’s gymnasium.
Words cannot express our appreciation to everyone who participated this year and everything they have given to these deserving children.
The generosity of the Hogs & Heifers community touched many lives and it was clear from the smiles on their faces that they, too, received joy. We thank the Hog & Heifers organization and hope they know the incredible impact they have made once again on all of us at The Children's Aid Society.
Over 100 volunteers set up Santa’s Workshop in the center’s gymnasium. At individual craft stations, volunteers assisted the children in creating gifts for their family and friends. Some of the most decorative and unique creations from this event included festive floral centerpieces, Christmas tree ornaments, personalized picture frames and pencil cases. The children had no issue finding the right gift for the special people in their lives, while enjoying festive music, face painting and gingerbread cookies. And just in case their hectic school schedules won’t allow for that last-minute trip to Macy’s, Santa was on the premises to confirm any final requests.
On Saturday, December 1, approximately two dozen Harlem students in fifth through tenth grades gathered at the New York Mission Society’s Minisink Townhouse to compete in a two-part speaking competition judged by an audience of their friends, family and peers. The event was hosted by the African American Male Initiative (AAMI).
Speakers improvised one 3- to 5-minute speech on a topic related to politics and current events. Topics ranged from the serious (the nation’s biggest challenges) to the personal (favorite vacations and the animal they would choose to be, and why). In a second, prepared speech, participants were asked to describe what they would do if they were elected president of the United States.
During lunch, the students were treated to a performance by the New York Mission Society Marching Band. Introducing the group, Mr. Robinson praised the competitors for their participation, noting that public speaking is an essential skill that would serve them well in school and in life.
To press his point, Mr. Robinson urged them to think this way: “If I can express myself,” he said, “maybe I can change the world.”
Given a chance to consider this premise, students tackled the tough issues of the day in their prepared speeches. Arguments were put forward to raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for women, tackle obesity, fight unemployment, boost graduation rates for minorities and guarantee health care for low-income communities.
‘Lift Every Voice’ is the first of three planned events to be hosted by AAMI, The Children’s Aid Society’s effort to help young black male students succeed in school and lead productive lives.
As Program Director Clifton Watson noted, with attention given to the disproportionate rate at which black and Latino male students face challenges in their academic lives, the event “highlights student commitment to academic success and community investment in such efforts.”
Last night's second annual Keeping the Promise gala raised more than $1.5 million for The Children's Aid Society and NYC's neediest children, shattering last year's fundraising record. The event was held at 583 Park and honored Citigroup, Inc. and Bill McDermott, Co-CEO of SAP AG, for their long-time support of the organization.
The evening highlighted the importance of education in overcoming poverty and featured several students whose success is a testament to the strength of Children's Aid programs. Florence Wen, 22, and Elvis Santana, 19, served as emcees for the night, and both underscored the night's message by sharing their own personal stories. "I can't imagine my life without Children's Aid programs, and those experiences have made my commitment to education stronger than ever," said Elvis, who is a sophomore at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
The second half of the night brought Maria Bartiromo of CNBC to the stage, where she conducted a live interview with Gene McQuade, CEO of Citi, N.A. and fellow honoree Bill McDermott. With an audience of over 500 people, they discussed everything from the impending fiscal cliff to the importance of their work with Children's Aid. "More than ever, in our knowledge-based economy, the antidote to poverty is education," said McQuade.
The gorgeous event space was filled with hand-written messages from other Children's Aid kids, thanking each attendee and making their own pledges of goals they hope to achieve. The program began and ended with a performance by the Children's Aid chorus.
Together, generous donors and friends of Children's Aid will help us reach the vision of college graduation for all the children in our care. From the podium, Mr. McQuade announced a special gift from Citi that, in his words, "will be earmarked to help low-income first generation families meet the academic, financial and social milestones to enroll and complete a postsecondary degree."
Thanking the audience for their commitment, President and CEO Richard Buery also praised them for their belief in equal opportunity. "You announce to the world that the American Dream is not for some children but for all children," he said. "At Children’s Aid, when we talk about 'Keeping the Promise,' that is the promise we are talking about."
With another very significant Election day upon us, day care participants at The Children’s Aid Society’s Drew Hamilton Center had a taste of the real thing with a mock election at their site: to vote for their snack of the day. The young voters had to decide between apples and oranges. Today, the “election” results and photos are posted around the center to remind parents, staff and other adults the importance of voting. The children are learning from an early age the importance of their opinion and, more importantly, the power in their vote. These 3 and 4 year olds have taught us a valuable lesson: whether you are voting between apples and oranges or presidential candidates, every votes counts. The results are in! While it was a close call between apples and oranges, apples were the majority’s pick of the day!
Civic engagement is a very important duty, we hope that all of those who can, will go out and make their vote count!
Over 200 children from The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center and their families marched up Lenox Avenue in Harlem Thursday evening to the State Office Building on 125th street to raise awareness on the importance of afterschool programs. With colorful signs, loud chanting and letters in hand, the group marched eagerly to meet their community leaders as part of the 13th Annual Lights On Afterschool nationwide rally.
Lights On Afterschool, an Afterschool Alliance event is a nationwide rally designed to highlight the importance of after-school programs in keeping children safe, educated and meaningfully engaged. One million Americans are estimated to be participating in over 7,500 events across the country. Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center promotes the holistic development of students in after-school activities ranging from educational enhancement, homework assistance, dance, arts and crafts, sports and nutrition. Dunlevy Milbank is one of 12 Children’s Aid Society sites organizing youth to advocate for after-school programming during Lights On Afterschool.
The children were able to participate in a number of activities that included basketball, hockey, dancing and a singing workshop with Darryl McDaniels himself. Each child also received a Garden of Dreams backpack and school supplies handed out by the celebrity guests. Click here to view more photos.
The dreary Friday morning downpour failed to dampen the crowd’s excitement at the grand opening of the Microsoft Store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, NY. Microsoft event and store staff got the SRO audience hyped with contests, music and a John Legend/Taio Cruz concert ticket giveaway. But for the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera), the high point of the day was the ribbon cutting ceremony, wherein the program received a $250,000 in-kind donation of Microsoft technology.
The gift was facilitated by CAS-Carrera partners Junior Achievement, which was tasked by Microsoft to select local program partners to share in the $1 million award for the New York area. The JA curriculum serves as the cornerstone of CAS-Carrera’s employment component – Job Club – which helps young people envision productive lives by exposing them to the world of work. Job Club, one of seven core components of the holistic, evidence-based CAS-Carrera program, is designed to improve financial literacy and develop life-long, positive financial decision-making through employment opportunities, entrepreneurial and community service projects, and personal bank accounts.
“We are thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the extraordinary generosity of Microsoft and Junior Achievement. Hundreds of young people in New York City will benefit tremendously from this cutting-edge technology that will enhance our financial literacy and college savings initiatives. The confidence and support of JA and Microsoft will advance CAS-Carrera’s objective of providing young people with rich opportunities to move from potential tax burdens to prospective tax payers,” said Dr. Michael A. Carrera, Director of CAS-Carrera.
The Children’s Aid Society applies for Health Bucks each year and distributes them to children in early childhood, afterschool and summer programs at our centers throughout New York City. Programs like Go!Healthy and Health Bucks play an important role in Children's Aid's ongoing efforts to eradicate childhood obesity. By learning to identify fruits and vegetables based on appearance and taste, students at The Drew Hamilton Learning Center are well on their way to a healthy and happy future! Learn more about the wide range of healthy eating programs offered by Children's Aid.
"The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School is our school," Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, told the assembled crowd. “It bears our name and our relentless commitment to excellence. It reflects our belief that the future of even the most vulnerable child is without limit."
Monday's excitement carried right on through to Wednesday, when over 130 kindergarteners and first graders started classes. Congratulations to Children's Aid College Prep! Keep checking the Children's Aid Blog as we share what will undoubtedly be a series of exciting success stories throughout the 2012-2013 school year.
Click "play" below to watch youth from across New York City take part in the Iron Go!Chefs Competition, one of many programs at Children's Aid that teaches young people how to cook and enjoy healthy foods.
The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School officially opened its doors with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Monday, August 27, 2012. Among the 150 guests in attendance were students, families, friends, Children’s Aid Society and charter school staff, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene and Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.