Keeping the Promise: Xavier Reyes

For the past two years, Xavier Reyes, 13, has traveled all the way from the Bronx to attend a Children’s Aid community school in Washington Heights. The reason is simple: your support has opened up a world of opportunity to him.

An eighth grader at our Mirabal Sisters campus, Xavier takes advantage of a variety of after-school programs that help reinforce what he learns each day. So far, he has participated in robotics club, taken a boat-building course and even attended a space camp halfway around the world, in Izmir, Turkey.

“No other school would have given me so many opportunities and helped me be the person that I am today,” Xavier says.

Children’s Aid programs are a family affair. His mother, Margarita Ramirez, is an engaged and active parent at the school, where she has taken part in workshops on nutrition, baking and curtain design.

As Xavier moves on to high school and then college, Children’s Aid is monitoring his progress along the way. To ensure his academic success, we track his attendance, his interest in learning new concepts and his capacity to manage his time and set appropriate short- and long-term goals.

Providing social-emotional support is another priority. Through his participation in multiple, structured peer groups after school and throughout the summer, we are watching as Xavier builds trust and deep personal connections with peers, and develops strong feelings about his own capabilities—all of which helps him express his thoughts and feelings in productive ways.

To keep him healthy, we provide Xavier access to a full-service health center—with medical, dental and mental health services—right in his school. Meanwhile, through exposure to our “Go!Healthy” program, Xavier has demonstrated an interest in nutrition and a desire to prepare healthy meals at home.

Our last area of focus is on Xavier’s family life. The adults around him, at home and in his school, work in partnership to support his goals. His mother says that these friendships are “like a second family watching out for Xavier.” And through her involvement in the life of the school, she has begun to make her aspirations for Xavier’s higher education clear to him at home, which research shows will increase the likelihood that he gets to and through college.

For now, Xavier is focused on computer science and math, while the community around him encourages and supports him to follow his dream: One day, he says, he will work at Apple as an engineer.

From the CEO

Dear Friends:

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and devastated the lives of thousands of New Yorkers on Staten Island. Children’s Aid immediately sprang into action to help vulnerable, low-income families by providing emergency relief, such as vouchers for food and clothing, and special assistance for resettlement—including move-in expenses and money for home renovations.

Today, many families are still adjusting to a new way of life and the challenges they have faced in the aftermath of the storm. One such family, The Heralds [name changed], were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. They lost everything in their home due to flooding—beds, chairs, couches, clothing, appliances and books. They also lost two family cars.

Jared, a husband and father of three daughters, is the sole breadwinner for his family, but was forced into an early retirement just two days after Hurricane Sandy hit. He now works part-time in a borrowed car delivering papers to help make ends meet. In order to sustain the Heralds, we have provided them with vouchers for food, utility bills and transportation.

As Staten Island recovers, Children’s Aid continues to invest in this resilient community as part of our vision to help children there become educated, healthy and confident adults.

Over a year ago, we began operating the Richmond Early Childhood Center, our first early childhood program in Staten Island now serving more than 125 children ages 2 to 5 years and their families. We also opened the Staten Island Family Center, where we offer traditional foster care services and a specialized therapeutic program for youth with behavioral challenges, as well as a general preventative program to help at-risk families avoid entry into the foster care system when possible.

Recently, we have partnered with Curtis High School to create a community school that features our first school-based health center in Staten Island. The clinic at Curtis, which serves more than 3,000 students living in the low-income North Shore area, opened on November 4 and will host a December ribbon-cutting event with special guests such as Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who helped commit the funds to make this partnership possible.

We are proud to increase our vital work in all our target neighborhoods and on Staten Island, helping the children and families who need us most.  With your support, we are there, step by step, as they recover from this crisis and in the years to come.


Richard Buery