David L. Giordano
Sports lured him in; the people made him stay.
Even now, at age 45, this is one of David Giordano’s most prized memories: it was the All-Star basketball game at the Frederick Douglass Center. Spectators filled the stands; new red, white and blue nets waited for the first baskets of the night. The team’s star player tapped the ball to David, and he let it fly. "Nothin' but net," David thought, as the crowd roared its approval.
"I scored the first two points and my mom jumped and went all crazy," David says. "There was this kind of energy in the place that is still there today."
For teenaged David, just as for today’s youth, sports was the hook that got him through the door. Once there, he met role models who guided him into adulthood. This connection became crucial when David’s mother died during his senior year of high school. "I could have been a very angry teenager," David says. "I’m not going to say I didn’t do my dirt and have some rough times in my 20s, but working with kids as a Children’s Aid group counselor helped keep me grounded. I knew I had to get up the next day and take care of business and that I was responsible for somebody."
At a time when David was feeling adrift in the world, Children’s Aid served as an anchor. Gloria Daniels, After-School Director, treated him with a mentor’s encouragement and a mother’s love. Herman Bagley, then the director of the Frederick Douglass Center, gave him a role model to respect and a job to aspire to. These people are part of the reason why, today, David serves as director of Children’s Aid’s East Harlem Center. "It’s been really a fantastic experience to be both a person that benefited as a kid and saw the value in it, and then was able to come back and give back," David says.
David has been leading the East Harlem Center since July, 2006. He sees himself as not just a leader to his staff, but to the children, their parents and the community at large. "During my 27 years as an employee, I really have enjoyed working with children, supporting and guiding them in the achievement of their goals and dreams, and seeing that twinkle in their eyes when they finally get something they have been struggling with," David says. "I feel very blessed that I am part of the Children’s Aid community in both receiving the benefits as a youth and giving back those benefits as a professional."