Students of our Ficalora Family Foundation Head Start Center in Woodside got a big surprise last week: a visit by the lovable red Sesame Street character, Elmo.
The excitement was palpable as the preschoolers spotted him and shouted, “Oh my God, it’s Elmo!”
The friendly monster’s visit was courtesy of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and its Week of Giving. Continue reading
Like other driven individuals, for the first 20 years of Garrett D’Alessandro’s career, he was principally focused on achieving his career goals. Garrett has always been financially generous to charitable organizations, although he made little time to otherwise engage in his community.
Garrett, who is currently the CEO and President of City National Rochdale Investment Management, managing $27.8 billion in assets — had an epiphany; he became concerned that he was not being true to the example his parents had set. “My dad always said, ‘We have to help others,’” he explained. “My mom wished he spent more time with the family, but she wouldn’t have had it, or him, any other way. That lifelong demonstration made me realize it is important to give of yourself to community well-being.”
When Garrett was ready to follow in his parents’ footsteps, he searched for an organization dedicated to family, education, and community — and came upon The Child Center of NY. As the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Garrett continues to support the agency financially, and in his role on the Board contributes leadership, business acumen, and lives up to the example set by his parents: an abiding spirit of generosity.
“I’m proud to be affiliated with an agency that helps not just the child, but the whole family, live up to its potential by offering the right education, counseling, and support,” said Garrett. “In my work, I help people make good investments. Frankly, supporting The Child Center is about as failsafe an investment you can make.”
When Albert Perna, founder of the Perna Foundation for Kids and a member of Queens Community Board 4, received a generous donation of baby food to his organization, he wanted to be sure that it went to families who could use it most. Continue reading
“Not everybody has the same advantages that I had. I am lucky to have parents who supported me at every step of the way,” said Alan Stein, Online Advertising, Global Strategy, and Operations Manager for Google.
Alan believes in giving back – but not merely in traditional ways. As a frequent donor to The Child Center of NY over the years, he has also participated in a number of events “hands on,” such as acting as a referee for dodgeball and organizing a Google cafe fundraiser attended by board members, and has encouraged his three children to give back as well. His kids, learning the importance of philanthropy by his example, have held bake sales and lemonade stands to raise money for The Child Center.
But the Stein family doesn’t just raise money for us; they also encourage friends and coworkers to donate as well – to The Child Center and other worthy recipients. At Google, where Alan works, up to $6,000 a year per employee is matched in giving to charitable organizations, and Alan does not let that benefit go to waste. In addition to maxing out his own annual Google contributions, he also sponsors a “Holiday Triple Match,” with his colleagues, matching up to $150 of their donations out of his own pocket. In five years, they’ve raised a combined $72,000.
“The Child Center of NY helps children grow and develop, and I want to support that by creating opportunities for kids to be able to make their own opportunities. Giving them the resources they need to work toward their own goals makes me feel like I’m making a difference in their lives, and for the next generation as well,” said Stein.
What’s better than donating to a great cause? Donating to a great cause and having your donation go twice as far. That’s why Russ Carson, a supporter of The Child Center and a founder and partner at private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe, established a match challenge, whereby he pledged to match any gift up to $1.5 million—turning an already generous $1.5 million donation into a $3 million gift.
“The Child Center does amazing things, and I wanted to find a way to make as big an impact on its work as possible,” Carson said. “Creating a match challenge was a way to get a whole community of supporters involved, and help twice as many kids.”
Fundraising studies show that people are very responsive to matching gift campaigns. Carson’s has been extremely successful and is nearly complete.
In recognition of this gift and Carson’s tremendous impact on the agency, The Child Center created a new award in his name: The Russell L. Carson Visionary Award. The inaugural award was given to Kay Howard, tutoring coordinator for the M.S. 72 Basie Beacon afterschool program, at our 2015 annual gala by Carson himself. This year’s Carson Award went to Tanya Krien, director of Early Head Start.
“We are so grateful to Russ for coming up with this innovative way to double his already generous gift. It has been truly transformational in generating support and helping us serve the children and families in our programs,” said Traci Donnelly, CEO of The Child Center.
We encourage other donors—on their own or with a group—to create their own matching gift pledge. To learn how, or to donate to the Carson Campaign, please contact our Development Office at 718-651-7770.
Maura Nicolosi is the owner of The Nicolosi Law Firm, P.C., in Manhasset, New York, and a member of The Child Center of NY’s Golf Committee. In the following Q&A, Nicolosi discusses how she was introduced to The Child Center, why she stays involved—and why it’s so easy for her to convince others to do the same.
The Child Center of NY: How did you first become involved with The Child Center?
Maura Nicolosi: I was invited by a business acquaintance to a Child Center golf outing about eight years ago and have been supporting the agency ever since. Continue reading
When a family enrolls a preschooler in a Child Center of NY Head Start program, parents must complete a home inventory that includes the statement, “You see 10 books in the home environment”—and parents answer either “yes” or “no.” More often than not, the answer is “no.”
“Most of the families in our program don’t own books,” explains Marie Mason, Education Director of The Child Center’s Ficalora Family Foundation Head Start Center in Woodside. “Poverty is an issue for the majority of them, and many parents may not be able to read English—or even their native language—and so are unable to read to their children.”
As common sense tells us and research confirms, early exposure to books is key to instilling a lifelong love of reading, and it helps provide a strong foundation for success in school. That’s why our Head Start programs keep classrooms stocked with reading materials. “Our center often provides kids with their first exposure to a collection of books,” says Mason. Teachers read often to the students, who love to listen—but they get really excited when someone new reads to them.
Katie Brennan, one of The Child Center’s board members, believes in the work we do because she has experienced firsthand how important clinical help can be for families.
Katie Brennan, third from left, at the 2012 Child Center Children’s Holiday Party
“When my second child was born in 2007, she was healthy and we brought her home from the hospital 36 hours after her birth. Everything seemed fine until she was three weeks old. She became listless and slept even more than she had in the days following her birth. It turned out that she had viral meningitis. Luckily, viral meningitis is much less serious than bacterial meningitis and her hospital stay was only three nights.
“But the stress of her illness coupled with post-pregnancy hormones left me anxious and depressed, even after her health returned. With professional help — a good therapist, temporary medication and then figuring out that running worked better for me than any actual medication — I was quickly back to feeling like myself, maybe even better than I had ever felt before.
“It was around this time that I was introduced to The Child Center of NY.
This holiday season, The Child Center is overwhelmed with the generosity and good will of people who created special moments for our children and families.
World Cares Center‘s Project Elf brought Santa and presents to our after-school participants at Beach 41st Cornerstone Community Center. World Cares Center, an organization focused on empowering communities through disaster response training and coordination, came to The Child Center bearing gifts for over 100 children. The night before the gift-giving, they transformed the gym with decorations, pictures of presents, snowflakes and streamers. On December 8, children and parents came through the doors and were greeted by Santa Claus, fun art activities, and gifts.