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. He connected with fellow Community Board Member Ingrid Gomez, who works as a mental health therapist at The Child Center of NY, and determined that he would donate it to The Child Center’s Early Head Start center in Corona.
On August 11, all 3,200 jars of baby food arrived via a volunteer ambulance and were delivered by Perna and CD 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol. Early Head Start families, including the children, helped transport the food in.
Among them were 2-year-old Daisy and her mother, Laura, who enrolled in EHS as a pregnant mom. Daisy has been receiving home visits through EHS, but the toddler will be entering the center, where she’ll be able to socialize with peers and become accustomed to a school-like setting, in September. The family has five other children, three of whom have graduated from the program and have special needs. The program has helped Laura become a formidable advocate for herself and her children, taking advantage of program events such as parenting groups and other special meetings to help make certain her children have access to the resources they need to reach their full potential. Laura is particularly grateful for the baby food, as she just gave birth to a premature baby and struggles to ensure all six of her children are well taken care of.
Ten families were present with their infants to accept the donation. The rest of the food will be distributed at the EHS orientations next month and shared with other Child Center programs.
“We’re so fortunate to have community partners like Al Perna and the Perna Foundation for Kids that provide much-needed assistance, like baby food and toys, to families in need. We’re also lucky to have community leaders like District Manager Christian Cassagnol supporting our mission to strengthen families and build community,” Gomez noted after the event.
Early Head Start Director Tanya Krien also attended the event and was visibly moved. “When our home visitors visit families, they often see less than adequate food in the homes. This donation will help to reduce this stress for a little while,” Krien said. “Aside from the donation itself, I was able to witness a community of mothers coming together to transport the food. Despite the struggles I know these families face, I heard giggling and saw smiles as moms helped the young ones be part of the experience by carrying food. It was an incredible sight to see.”