Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families

by Children's Aid
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Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families
Coronavirus Relief for NYC's Children and Families


WATCH THE INTERVIEW

Your incredible support toward our COVID-19 relief efforts has equipped us with the tools necessary to promote COVID-19 vaccines — especially to parents of children. With your generosity, we have been able to perform outreach to vaccine-hesitant communities who are at greater health risk, provide them with information about vaccines, and administer the shots.

Children’s Aid’s VP of Health and Wellness Rhonda Braxton sat down with BronxNet Host Daren Jaime to discuss what we’re doing to get New Yorkers vaccinated, with a focus children. You can watch it here, or read a section of the conversation transcribed below:

 

DAREN: “When we talk about children getting vaccinated we know that it’s been an uphill battle, how have things been looking on your end?”

 

RHONDA: “Well thank you so much for having me. Yes, it has been a little bit of an uphill battle, but Children’s Aid is very dedicated to the community and ensuring the health and wellness of the children and families that we serve. So we really at the beginning of the pandemic, we took to heart the idea that we have to go out and provide accurate medical information to our clients and their families, and to do our best to provide the best services to the community.”

 

DAREN: “And you’re not just waiting for people to come through your doors, obviously you have some mechanisms that you’re actively actually reaching people. You’ve got testing buses right in the borough of the Bronx. Talk to us about your buses and the work that it’s doing there.”

 

RHONDA: “Sure, well we first started with health education. We wanted to make sure that everyone had medically accurate information, so we had webinars, we had flyers, other campaigns, and then we partnered with other community organizations, even before we were able to provide vaccines at our sites, but testing was paramount to the success of the initiative. We partnered with the Health + Hospitals Corporation – the Test and Trace organization to get testing mobile vans/buses at our sites, primarily in the Bronx. That’s where we started, because we wanted to address the higher risk needs of our community. We advertised those services, partnered, had the vans there seven days a week on a weekly basis and we’re really proud to say that through that partnership we were able to provide 7,000 tests altogether; 5,000 tests in the Bronx. And later when the vaccine became available, we were also able to use those same resources for vaccination.”

 

DAREN: “We know within the African American community and communities of color there is a huge vaccine hesitancy, when it comes to testing, even that as well. Did you find that you were able to break down some walls if you will, to be able to get people to become more receptive given the fact that so many people still have some questions, even though we’re making some progress but still have a way to go?”

 

RHONDA: “Absolutely, again it was our goal to chip away — well, really first acknowledge the hesitancy and the reason behind it. Acknowledge the background that communities of color have had negative experiences historically with the medical field. And just address that head on. Have informational sessions, have trusted people of color and pediatricians who are known to be trusted resources in the community, to have one-on-one conversations, to educate first our staff, from the front desk on, as to accurate information — how to speak to clients. Again, webinars, one-on-one-conversations, you know, any kind of outreach that we could provide. Partnering with New York City Health + Hospitals Corporation, with the Department of Health, other community-based organizations to get accurate information out to the community. And to be able to provide a forum for people to ask questions and really to ask, ‘Did you get that vaccine Rhonda? Would you give it to your children?’ ‘Absolutely.’ So, serve as a resource for the community.”

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Yvonne Amarh
Yvonne Amarh

As foster care social worker and therapist Yvonne Amarh (pictured above) prepared for the holiday season, she reflected on the past year and wanted to share her meaningful memories she has with the ones who help make her work possible — each and every one of you.

This past year, there was a sharp rise in mental health care needs as youth grappled with changes, isolation, loss, and other pandemic hardship. That made your support of Yvonne’s work more critical than ever before.

When Yvonne received a call that a 16-year-old client was arrested and admitted to the ER to detox from drug use, she immediately rushed to be by his side. When he was released from the ER, the relative he was living with wouldn’t allow him to return to her home. The young man had nowhere to go, so Yvonne spent the whole day with him, taking him to lunch and then the park until we found him a new home.

“We had a really nice talk, we discussed his goals in life and I learned so much about him that day,” Yvonne said. She didn’t leave his side during the whole ordeal. Once we did find a new home for him, she moved all of his belongings from his former foster home to his new one. “I was willing to stay with him for as long as it took,” she said. Now he is in a stable and secure foster home placement.

For many other foster youth, the opportunity to take a simple outing or field trip — something many of us take for granted — is a special treat. There is one youth Yvonne works with who is an animal lover, so Yvonne arranged a special trip to visit a pet store with her. They spent the day petting the cats, and the youth found the experience to be extremely therapeutic. “By the end of our trip she could not stop saying how much her day was made and how much she enjoys our outings,” Yvonne said. “I appreciated hearing that I was able to do that for her.”

When other youth are mapping out their careers, Yvonne is able to access a host of college and career resources to help them achieve their goals. This year, Yvonne worked with 17-year-old Ashanti, who has continued to stay on track to earn her high school diploma and is preparing for cosmetology school. She has big dreams to open up her own salon, and with access to the right opportunities, nothing will get in the way of her success.

In the year ahead, thanks to the continued generosity of so many friends like you, Yvonne can continue to support our youth in foster care. Thanks for being a friend of New York City’s children.

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Maame
Maame

Of the many impacts COVID-19 has had on youth, academic and mental health challenges have been particularly pronounced. For young adults considering secondary education while grappling with these hardships, the data revealed this past spring was rather stark: college enrollment sank by 25%.

Maame is a 17-year-old Bronx native who has always been a stellar student, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while juggling commitments to a variety of extracurricular activities throughout high school. When finishing up her junior year of high school, she had her eyes set on college, but wasn’t completely sure what she wanted to study and how she would even afford it. Then, the pandemic ransacked New York City, limiting her ability to explore jobs and internships or make money to pay for college. As the months of quarantine went on, the social isolation caused Maame to become depressed.

In June 2020, Maame wanted to get involved in a program that would help her choose her path in life, and provide a healthy social outlet. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions, options were limited, but she turned to her mentors at our Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem who offered her a great solution. They introduced her to our “Just Ask Me” (JAM) Peer Education paid internship program, which at the time was operating remotely. Maame applied and was accepted to work as a health educator for teens on topics such as birth control, HIV/STI prevention, and gender identity. Through this program, Maame found her calling.

“Being able to answer my peers’ questions with confidence further motivates me to become an educator. The JAM Peer Health Education Program has continuously reminded me of my future goals and pushes me to become a teacher,” Maame said.

The program also helped Maame combat the feelings of isolation, and stay focused on her goals and maintain her wellness. She said it “…was a helpful outlet because it gave me something to look forward to during my days…even if it was on Zoom." Maame also shared that she took advantage of Hope’s mindfulness and meditation classes.

During her senior year of high school, Maame’s hard work paid off after she was accepted to her dream school — New York University. She received a scholarship from the school, but the remaining balance was still a financial squeeze. She knew she absolutely wanted to go there, but was overwhelmed by the prospect of accumulating so much debt.

Then, she heard about the Children’s Aid scholarship program.

“By receiving the Children’s Aid scholarship, I would be able to pursue my dream career,” Maame said in her application. Children’s Aid recognized her potential and knew her goal should not be a dream deferred, nor a dream denied. She won an $8,000 scholarship, which gave her the financial backing needed to pursue her higher education goals at her dream school.

Thank you for supporting students just like Maame. By staying engaged and focused on her goals through the help of her mentors and programs at Children’s Aid, students like Maame are able to continue their education and start their careers — despite these challenging times.

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Children's Aid's children, youth, and families
Children's Aid's children, youth, and families

One year ago, New York City was emerging as the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, you and 1,764 other generous people from New York City, across the United States, and from five different countries around the world helped raise about $160,000 for our city’s young people. It’s been truly remarkable how the global community unites to care for one another during a time of crisis.  

Over the past year, we’ve been dismayed by the loss and hardship, but also inspired by strangers helping strangers, children and families overcoming adversity, and the rapid development of vaccines. We have now passed the worst of the pandemic and hope to soon return to a sense of normalcy, but issues still remain. Like so many others impacted by this pandemic, our children, youth, and families continue to grapple with academic losses, hunger, poverty, unemployment, and emotional wellness. But we remain assured by the inspirational words of our young people and their families. We’d like to share a few of those with you:

  • “Starting my first college experience online in an asynchronous course, I took advantage of tutoring that Children’s Aid provided and that changed my life. I started to see my grades increase, and now I have a 3.8 GPA.”
    -Kadiatou, Medgar Evers College student (pictured left)


  • “It feels like a family. Like I have support. These are people who care about me and my children, and want to see me succeed as much as I want to see myself succeed.”
    -Karen, whose children received mental health support this past year (pictured center)


  • “Playing at school with my friends is so much fun! I love my teachers and singing songs in class.”
    -Antonio (pictured right)

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Hector*, 23, immigrated to the United States from Mexico, leaving behind his mother and father to join his siblings for a better life. When he arrived to New York City, he was immediately expected to seek full-time employment to help support his family.

But when Hector expressed a desire for a formal education, his siblings scoffed at him. He struggled with balancing the need to produce financially and wanting to pursue his American Dream. When he turned 16, his siblings grew weary of his obsession with school and kicked him out of their apartment. With nowhere to go, he ended up in foster care.

After he was placed with Children’s Aid, he continued to reach for achieving something bigger. He landed on becoming a math teacher, so he worked closely with our academic tutors and foster care social workers to help him prepare, apply, and eventually enroll in Guttman Community College. In the spring of 2019, he was so excited to graduate and earn his associate degree, and saw the graduation ceremony as an opportunity to reconnect with his siblings — so he invited them. At graduation, he walked across the stage, proud of his accomplishments, and looked out to the crowd for his siblings — but they weren’t there. Hector was really hurt, but resolved to keep striving for his goal. And his resolve paid off: he was accepted to City College of New York and began pursuing his bachelor’s degree in the fall of 2019, with all tuition, dorm, and mental health therapy costs covered by Children’s Aid and the Administration for Children’s Services’ Dorm Project.

The transition from community college to a full four-year college was not easy. City College was bigger and less tight-knit than Guttman, and the large class sizes and intense coursework proved challenging. But Children’s Aid provided him with targeted academic tutoring, and social-emotional supports to help him cope with the rejection from his siblings.

We also recently worked closely with Hector, who is undocumented, to help navigate the immigration system, and connected him to resources to pave a pathway to citizenship. Things were looking up.

Then March 2020 came. Just months away from finishing his junior year in college, he received the news: the dorms were closing because of a raging pandemic. His dorm was his only home — where would he go? 

He turned to his Children’s Aid and Dorm Project contacts to quickly secure an emergency foster care placement. Without their help, Hector would have been homeless. After several months in a foster home, Hector was struggling with the loss of independence he had enjoyed at college. After COVID-19 case counts in New York City lowered, a dorm reopened, and we advocated for him to obtain a placement. After moving back in the dorm, he began thriving once again.

With his life back on track, Hector spends a lot of his time in his dorm room studying diligently to become a math teacher. He now has his eyes set on graduate school to get his master’s in teaching.

These services we provided to Hector, and so many youth just like him, were only possible because of your support. Thank you for giving Hector a lifeline and helping him get through this difficult year.

*An alias name and stock photo are being used to protect the security of our client.

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Children's Aid

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @childrensaidnyc
Project Leader:
Danny Stern
New York, NY United States
$207,730 raised of $250,000 goal
 
2,044 donations
$42,270 to go
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