Our Children and Families

Sean’s Story

Sean with Ms. Brenda at his high school graduation

Sean with Ms. Brenda at his high school graduation

I was a naïve kid. I never really paid much mind to what was going on around me. I was bullied because I like to be weird and a little out there—it makes the friends I have now laugh—but in first through eighth or ninth grade, I didn’t have any friends who were like me. People just saw me as a weird kid nobody likes.

That sounds really sad, but I just drowned it out. I’d come home from school and make my little fort out of pillows and play with my action figures.

I knew I was unhappy, but I tried not to pay attention to it. I was a little kid, so I was easily distracted. I never really thought about it until I was at school and realized I had no friends to talk to during recess.

But then I got older and it became too much. I had always pushed my feelings down because I didn’t want to seem weak or be a burden. But I couldn’t deal with myself—I started developing voices, seeing things, losing it. I didn’t know what to do. I was too afraid to die but too depressed to live. Sometimes I would hold a knife to my throat so that I’d realize how much I wanted to live.

That’s when I had a breakdown. I was 16, my girlfriend had just left me, and my grandma and aunt had passed away. I just snapped. I was at school and started screaming and crying that I couldn’t handle it anymore. The school called my mom, who came right away and took me to Bellevue Hospital. I was there for a week and a half, and then they referred me to The Child Center of NY’s home visiting program.

That’s when I met Ms. Miriam. At first it was awkward having some new person coming into my home. But over time, I warmed up to her and got used to her being around. I gradually began to realize how bad my anger was, and how I needed to treat the people in my life better—and that they needed to treat me better, too. Ms. Miriam worked with my mom and me on that, and on communicating with each other.

I’d gotten back together with my girlfriend, and the things Ms. Miriam taught me helped the two of us communicate better, too, and deal with our anger. Normally when I was angry, I’d punch things or break stuff, or hold it in. Or I’d start crying because I didn’t have any other outlet. Ms. Miriam helped me find ways to reduce the buildup when I started getting angry and gave me other alternatives to the crying and breaking things. She helped me learn to think through the consequences and decide if I should walk away or talk about it. Before I started seeing Miriam, if my girlfriend and I disagreed, I’d yell my opinion, she’d shout hers, and one of us would walk out crying. Now, we’re able to say, “Okay, this is what I don’t like….” And we talk about it. Now I know what it takes to have a real relationship, and that helps me not just with my girlfriend, but with my other relationships, too.

Ms. Miriam also introduced me to Teen Time [a group that brings together teens from The Child Center’s various home visiting programs], which I like because I have a lot of fun with the other teens there. I can be myself around them—or at least, myself toned down a little. A lot of times, other people would tell me, “It’s not that bad,” and I’d think to myself, “You don’t understand this pain.” But the people at Teen Time, they understand that it was that bad—even though they’d never say it.

After four months with Ms. Miriam, I got transferred to a less intense program and started seeing Ms. Brenda. In June, I graduated from the program.

Now that I’ve been through it, I can say that getting help isn’t that bad. Nobody ever wants to do it, but it’s definitely worth it. I’m in a much better place now and looking forward to attending Vaughn College in the fall. I’m hoping to become a computer programmer or robotics engineer and either work for a gaming company or go to Silicon Valley and work on robots in the NASA branch.

I feel ready because The Child Center showed me that when you have a problem, there are things you can do. You can work through things, and a lot of things can be fixed; If they can’t, you can move on. Ms. Brenda and Ms. Miriam showed me that I wasn’t beyond help, and things can get better.

La Historia de Luciano


Luciano Rosendo, his three sons, and Andrea Piskunov, their case manager

Por fin puedo  decir que me siento listo para enfrentar el futuro; ha sido un camino largo y difícil hasta llegar a donde he llegado.

Cerca de dos años atrás, mi esposa salió a hacer algunas vueltas y nunca regreso. Desde entonces he estado tratando de ser fuerte y levantar a nuestros hijos de la mejor manera posible. En mi cultura la madre es la que usualmente se encarga de la educación de los hijos así que no ha sido fácil para mí solo, encargarme de esta labor.

Para Guillermo, Cecilio y Luciano tampoco fue fácil enfrentar este cambio. Pedí ayuda al programa de Head Start al cual acudía mi hijo Cecilio en Woodside, Mercedes Jimenez, la trabajadora para la familia me ayudo a aplicar para los cupones de comida y con consejería para mis hijos. Debido a los horarios de trabajo, me vi forzado a irme a vivir en el área de Corona con un familiar quien me ofreció ayuda con el cuidado de mis hijos.

Al principio fue difícil hasta adaptarnos a la forma de cuidado de mi familiar. Mercedes nos refirió al Head Start/ Early learn program en Corona y también al Elmhurst Family Center General Prevention donde conocimos a nuestra actual coordinadora de servicios Andrea Piskunov quien es y sigue siendo una pieza importante en el mejoramiento de nuestra situación.

Estoy muy agradecido a The Child Center of NY y muy especialmente a Andrea quien nos visita con frecuencia y nos ha ayudado a desarrollar rutinas diarias- como supervisión de  las tareas escolares- con mis hijos quienes tienen ahora, 7,5 y 4 años de edad.

Yo pienso que mis hijos son ahora más felices y están más seguros. Trato de hablar con ellos y hacerles entender la situación por la que están pasando y les dejo saber que yo estoy para ellos. También estoy aprendiendo a leer y a escribir para poder ayudarles a ellos un poco más. Estoy listo para poder sacar adelante a mis hijos y poder decir que tenemos de nuevo una familia.

Luciano’s Story

Finally, I feel ready for the future. It has been a long and difficult road to get here.

A couple of years ago, my wife went out for an errand and never came back.  Since then, I’ve been trying to pick up the pieces and raise our three young sons right.  In my culture it is usually the mother that handles childcare, so taking on this new role has not been easy for me.

Guillermo, Cecilio, and Luciano didn’t handle the changes well, either. I asked Cecilio’s Head Start program in Woodside for help, where Mercedes Jiminez got us SNAP (food stamp) benefits and counseling for my sons. Then we moved so that someone in my family could take us in to help with the children, because I work such long hours.  But that was also a problem at first, because our caregiving styles are so different. Mercedes sent us to the closer Corona Head Start/Early Learn program, where a social worker helps the children, and to the Elmhurst Family Center General Prevention Program, where I met our case manager, Andrea Piskunov, who has done so much to make our situation better.

I am thankful to The Child Center of NY and especially to Andrea, who visits us often and has helped me develop routines – like doing homework and getting ready for school – with my boys, who are now 7, 5, and 4 years old.

I think my kids feel happier now, and safer.  I try to talk to them and understand what they’re going through, and I’m there for them as much as possible.  I am learning how to read and write so that I can help them even more. I am ready for us to be on our own as a family again.


Jahdiel’s Story

DSC_0107My name is Jahdiel, and I’m 18 years old.  I came to The Child Center of NY on an ACS referral, because I was finding it difficult to speak to people. Having started public school after being home schooled was too overwhelming for me, and I shut down.  You go from being one-on-one to one on 30 or 35.  It is very hard to engage with everyone.  It’s too much to take in.

In 2011, I took a year off from school.  When I came back, things were much better.  Since I’d had a year to work on my issues, I was able to deal with classrooms and large crowds a lot better.

I have gone to sessions with Rebecca Gannon in the South Jamaica clinic for four years, and she and The Child Center made me into a functioning person.  I was like a closed-up turtle before. I lived vicariously through TV.  My social skills were nonexistent, but I have slowly been able to progress from intimate conversations to group situations.  I’m in 10th grade now, but people don’t seem to notice or care about the age difference.

I still don’t really enjoy big family gatherings, but I’m in a Restorative Justice group at school, and working on outside projects — like planting trees in Battery Park — has enabled me to acclimate myself to social situations and also to be a model for others with similar experience or behaviors.  I hadn’t been leaving the house much before, but now, as a peer counselor, I’m counted on — I have to show up.  It’s really The Child Center that helped me to help myself and also to be of help to other young people.DSC_0072

A few months ago, when Rebecca moved to South Jamaica from the other Jamaica location, it added at least 30 minutes to my commute time, but I didn’t want to lose this support system.  It’s easy to be lazy but not to give up.

She told me she’s proud of me and that the differences in me are “night and day.”  I say “night and year.”  I’m a new person, but the good thing is I’m also still me. The Child Center is about becoming who you are — embracing yourself, even if you are naturally a sheltered person – and being able to handle your faults.

David’s Story


David Song and Dr. Sung Min Yoon

My name is David Song, and I am 10 years old. I came to see Dr. Yoon because I was shy and did not talk to teachers and friends. I was fearful of talking to others outside of my parents and older sister at home. I was so scared that I could not say any single word when I was asked to make a presentation in front of class. I felt embarrassed. I just looked down the floor and wanted to cry. My self-esteem diminished, and I was upset every day. When my mother asked me to go to The Child Center of NY, I didn’t want to because I was uncomfortable. But my mother did not give up on me, and eventually I agreed to give it a try.
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Davier’s Story

Davier2My father used to walk by 162nd Street on a regular basis, seeing the logo for The Child Center of NY and not giving it a passing thought. Earlier this year, I was having some personal problems, and I told my dad I needed help. I was pretty sure I needed to talk to someone about troubles with peer interactions and relationships, and how it was affecting me on multiple levels. My dad remembered The Child Center.

I’m 17 years old, and I go to Queens Vocational in Sunnyside. I’m on an afterschool robotics team. We build robots and compete every year at the Javits Center. I try to keep my grades in the 90s range, so I’m fairly confident that I’ll get into NYU to study electrical and computer engineering. I visited the school, and it’s my first choice.

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Tiffany’s Story


When I was 15 years old, I was tired of dealing with reality. I wanted to forget everything I ever felt. I was raped at age 11 by an older boy in a gang. That was the start of the journey where I would begin to isolate myself. The way I would escape from the world would be to drink and smoke until I was no longer myself.

“I was trapped in a world full of darkness. I am just so happy that The Child Center was there to shed light. If I had never gotten the help I needed I would probably have either ended up dead or in jail. I would have definitely dropped out of high school. My relationship with other people would still be horrible. My parents would be disappointed in me. I would still have friends who were toxic to me.”

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Nasrin’s Story


When Nasrin first came to the United States from Bangladesh, she struggled to adjust to the unfamiliar language and customs. Life at home was stressful, too. She felt that her husband dominated her, and she was unsure how to address her son’s aggressive behavior or her daughter’s shyness. In her neighborhood in Woodside, Queens, Nasrin had often passed by The Child Center’s Head Start program, and she decided to enroll her son, Haseen.

At the family orientation for the program, Nasrin heard about services to help families facing domestic violence and emotional abuse. She took advantage of every opportunity. With the help of a case worker and counselor from The Child Center, she improved her parenting skills and gained confidence.

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Out of Hardship, a Vow to Rebuild

photoKawkab Abid, a senior at International High School at LaGuardia Community College, arrived in Brooklyn from Bangladesh with his family when he was 13. As a high school junior, he was accepted into our Workforce Investment Act youth program, an income-based program that provides job readiness training and internships. Kawkab, whose village in Bangladesh was devastated by typhoons, now plans to become an engineer to help communities like his rebuild and grow stronger. In March, he was one of 13 high school students awarded a prestigious New York Times college scholarship. Kawkab is currently finishing high school and deciding where he will attend college.

Here, Kawkab describes his long journey from his village of Meherpur, Bangladesh, to a high school in Queens–and how his past has shaped his plans for the future.

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Daniel’s Story


In middle school I had a tough time because I didn’t feel good about myself. I was dealing with a lot of traumatic memories that I had been repressing. Then one day I remembered that I was abused as a child. I was dealing with things someone at my age should not have had to deal with.

I tried a few times to kill myself because I couldn’t stand the pain. I remember standing in the bathroom after taking a bottle of my mom’s medicine. I looked in the mirror. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see myself. It was just some stranger in the mirror.

I had a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital. It was a very scary experience. When I got out, I was sent to The Child Center.

“I tried a few times to kill myself…”

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