The Children's Aid Blog

Children’s Aid Society’s Food & Nutrition Director to Speak at Local Food Conference

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Just Food will hold its 2012 conference “EAT • WORK • GROW THE MOVEMENT” at the Food & Finance High School on February 24th and 25th. This conference will bring together over 1,000 local food lovers and advocates. CSA members, community gardeners, urban and rural farmers, food professionals and entrepreneurs will participate in two days of hands-on workshops, discussions and skills-building sessions and of course some good food. The Children’s Aid Society’s very own Food & Nutrition Director, Stefania Patinella, will speak at the conference on the importance of serving real, fresh and nutritious foods in our city’s most important institutions, such as day cares, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. Her talk is based on our successful Go!Healthy Meals model, which serves delicious, from-scratch meals to 2,000 children each day.

Just Food is a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers. Ticket costs are $30 per day or $50 for both days and discounts are available for students, farmers and low-income community members.  

For more information on the conference, registration and to buy tickets, please visit

Caption: Director of Food and Nutrition Programs at The Children’s Aid Society, Stefania Patinella with CAS participants at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. Photo by Lily Kesselman.

New York City Mayor Honors MLK at Children’s Aid Community School

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Schools were not in session this past Monday, January 16th, but many students headed to the Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, to honor one of America’s most prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Approximately 100 middle and elementary school students participated in a morning full of beautification and literacy activities hosted by Mayor Michael Bloombergand the NYC Serviceto commemorate Dr. King’s birthday.

To kick off the activities, students and volunteers were treated to breakfast and opening remarks from the Mayor and star of “The Mountain Top”, Angela Bassett. Mayor Bloomberg and The Children’s Aid Society’s President and CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. toured the various activities that included a one-on-one reading with volunteers as well as an “I Have A Dream” themed drawing activities.

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: In a Family Emergency, $204 and Help With Red Tape

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Salena Johnson take care of her two young sons as she looks for work and volunteers at their school:

Last winter, when Salena Johnson had no money, her two young sons missed school for a week.

“They don’t really like to stay home,” Ms. Johnson, 42, said. “Even if they’re sick, they still want to come to school, and I have to tell them they can’t let the other kids get sick.”

For the past several years, Ms. Johnson, a mother of six whose other children are all grown, has relied on public assistance to help make ends meet and rear her youngest sons, Taquan, 10, and Jamir, 12, in the Bronx. She was laid off from her job as a home care aide at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx in 2006 and has not found work since.

“Once I pay my light and gas bill, I really don’t have too much left,” said Ms. Johnson, who lives in the Morrisania section. Her youngest sons’ father has at times provided financial help, but it has been inconsistent, Ms. Johnson said.

Her sons, however, have had full and active lives, thanks in large part to the Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools program at Public School 50 in East Harlem, where they have been enrolled for five years. Ms. Johnson said none of the schools in her neighborhood compared with what P.S. 50 offered the boys, so they take two trains to school in Manhattan.

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

Children’s Aid Top Ten Blog Posts of 2011

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New York Times Neediest Cases Story: A Woman’s Struggles Unleash Memories of Trauma

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Brendaly Mozco work through many years of surpressed trauma and getting her family back on the right track to emotional and financial stability:

"When she was 15, a partner in her stepfather’s illicit business picked her up at school, drove her to an abandoned lot and raped her, she said.

Scared and ashamed, she told no one.

When her marriage collapsed, Ms. Moczo said, an overwhelming depression descended on her. “I would cry, and I didn’t want to in front of the children, but sometimes you can’t help it,” she said. “I would just want to sit on the sofa. I didn’t want to move; I just wanted silence.”  

“The Children’s Aid Society are the ones who held me; they picked me up when I was on the ground,” Ms. Moczo said. “I feel much, much better. I have my ups and downs, but they always put me back on track.”  

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

Say Yes for Youth and Save Our After-School Programs

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On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, despite the frigid cold, youth services providers and City Council members stood on the steps of City Hall to fight for the restoration of funding for after-school programs.  The OST after-school system, which was created by Mayor Bloomberg in 2005, was once the largest and most respected after-school system in the country. 

At its height, it served 85,000 children throughout NYC, providing them with a mix of academic enrichment, recreational and cultural activities after-school, on holidays and during the summer.  Programs are free of charge and were located in every neighborhood in the city. 

Over the last three years, the after-school system has been gutted, just at a time when families and children need them the most.  Currently, there are 418 programs serving approximately 53,000 children in New York Cit.  In September of this year, when more than one million children return to school, there will only be 27,000 available slots for after school and 220 OST after-school programs.  Because of this, families will have to scramble to find a safe and engaging place for their children to go after-school – just at a time when parents are struggling to find and keep work.  After-school staff will lose their jobs.  And, most importantly, children and youth will lose the engaging and enriching programs that they love. 

On behalf of the thousands of young people across the City, we implore the City to make restorations for these programs. 

The Children’s Aid Society has 16 city-funded OST after-school programs in community centers and community schools.  We serve 2,280 children in these programs. Read the press release from the New York City Youth Alliance here.

Volunteers from Jones Lang LaSalle Brighten Up the Walls in the Bronx

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On Saturday, November 19th, the Early Childhood Center walls at The Children’s Aid Society’s Bronx Family Center were touched up by volunteers from Jones Lang LaSalle, a facilities partner for Bank of America. Twenty-five volunteers gathered at BFC to brighten up the space for the children and their families. Jones Lang LaSalle employee David Rodriguez ordered and delivered the paint and materials himself. He also assigned the painters specific tasks…some were rollers or worked on the trim, while others updated the doors.

By early afternoon the beautifully painted classroom, corridor and lobby were complete. Volunteers were energized with many expressing a sense of accomplishment.

Stay tuned…this same group is planning on building a rooftop garden at the Bronx Family Center.

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.