Our Children and Families

Keim’s Story

Keim and his dance team at basie beacon m.s. 72

Keim and his fellow B2 Dancerettes performed in the M.S. 72 Basie Beacon program’s Black History Showcase. Back row from left to right: Crystal, Jaylah, Jalayah, Brianna, Leah, and Savannah. Front row: Keim and Nevaeh

My name is Keim, and I’m 14 years old. I started M.S. 72 in September 2019 when I was in sixth grade. I joined The Child Center of NY Beacon afterschool program as well.

I can admit that I was not the best student in school or afterschool, and I can admit that I made a lot of bad decisions. I used to feel that fighting people was cool because it made me fit in, and people accepted me. I would bully people, instigate, and provoke others. I maintained failing grades, but I didn’t care.

Then in 2021, I developed a love for dance with The Child Center of NY afterschool dance program. All the things I didn’t care about suddenly meant the world to me. It was during this time that I realized that I was now in the eighth grade and I needed to care more about myself and my future. Several people helped me reach this decision. All of a sudden, I realized how so many people in my life who were giving me guidance were so right about everything. My sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Cannon, would always tell me how I was worth more than fighting someone every day. My dance instructor in afterschool, Daquan Harris, really opened my eyes more than anyone.

I still struggle with my school work and attendance; my grades were still failing from the beginning of this school year. My dance instructor learned about this problem and worked with me to resolve the issues. For the first time in the history of my middle school experience, I passed all of my classes on my last report card. Funny but true, if I didn’t pass, my dance instructor told me that I would not be able to be on the dance team. Not being on the team was not an option because I love to dance. It’s the only way I feel that I can express myself.

Silvia’s Story

Silvia and daughter, ParentChild+

I grew up in Queens with very strict parents. They are immigrants from Ecuador and are very “old school.” They had high expectations for me and my two sisters. When I got pregnant at 19, they were devastated. It was very hard for me because I was only in my second year in college, and on top of that, I had my family judging me.

It was the middle of my spring semester, and I ended up on academic probation with a 1.5 GPA. I had been studying to become a social worker, but my low GPA rendered me ineligible for my program. It wasn’t long before I just dropped out.

When my daughter was born, I loved her so much, but I didn’t have the motivation to do much—with her or with myself. I didn’t read to her. I didn’t really play with her. And I didn’t develop a bond with her. For myself, now that I was out of college and had lost eligibility for my program, I didn’t know what direction to take.

My wake-up call came when my daughter was close to two years old. The doctor evaluated her at a well visit and told me what I already knew in my heart: My daughter had a speech delay. She was not saying any words—she was just pointing—and she wasn’t hearing when I called her name. My heart sank as I wondered: What am I doing as a mother for her development?

At that moment, I knew I had to do everything for her that I possibly could. I regretted not doing that sooner, but all I could do was move forward. I enrolled her in Early Intervention services for her speech. I started reading to her. I tried to engage more. But I reached a point I knew I had to do more. I just didn’t know how.

I looked for help on the Internet and came across The Child Center of NY. I contacted the Woodside Early Head Start program to see if I could enroll my daughter. They were full, but they gave me the number for The Child Center’s Early Head Start program in Astoria, which had spots available. I enrolled her there and found out we also were eligible for the ParentChild+ program, which includes free books and toys and guidance on using them. My daughter was receiving speech therapy at the time, too, and with all this help, I saw her progress right before my eyes.

ParentChild+ has this whole curriculum that makes you confident you’re doing everything possible for your child. We enrolled in March 2020, right when COVID hit, so our visits with our home visitor were virtual. At first I thought, “No baby wants to be just there on a screen,” but it was very helpful. The program includes a parent handbook to check off milestones for every age. I could see that some I could check off and some were not fully checked and I could work on those.

The guidance I got about using the toys and books helped me a lot, especially as a first-time mom and pretty young. I didn’t know any better how to raise a child. It was very difficult. But our home visitor guided me through using the toys and books, explaining the significance of each one. One toy was magnetic blocks with different colors, and another was a shape sorter. I learned to talk to my daughter in ways that would support her development while she was playing, identifying the colors and shapes. She loved the books, too, especially Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, which exposed her to numbers and counting, and Are You My Mother? She loved learning about the different animals. She still likes those books a lot!

In the beginning, it was hard. My daughter wouldn’t respond; she’d make sounds, but no words. I would speak to her in both languages, English and Spanish, and I grew very concerned that she would have to be in special ed and continue to have problems.

Silvia and daughter at a partyIt took a whole year of services, but eventually, one day to another, she just started speaking, saying a couple words and clearly grasping lots of different things.

She’s 3 now. Her last day of speech therapy was just before her third birthday. She’s speaking well in both languages. She’s in a 3K class in preschool and gets along with the other kids and is doing well in all developmental areas. She won’t need special education.

If I hadn’t received these services, I don’t know where I would be. The Child Center helped me with the how.

Now I get to help other families in the same way.

Throughout my college journey, I was always interest in social services or education. When the position of family worker opened up at Early Head Start, Astoria—the program that my daughter and I were enrolled in—I decided to apply. I’d gotten along with everyone here as a parent—everyone is so sweet and friendly!—that I knew I would enjoy being part of the team. Besides my interest in the field of early childhood education, I felt that because I was in the program and struggled so much throughout my motherhood journey with these new things in my life, I could help others. I’m not the only one to go through these struggles. There are a lot of other first-time mothers having even more difficulty than me. That motivated me to where I’m working at now.

As a family worker, I help families who are having needs and connect them with resources, whether that’s cash assistance, physicals, dentals … anything a family might be struggling with. This is important to me, as I got help from the program in this way, too. My family worker helped me with food bags, diapers, wipes … a lot of different things when I needed them most.

I also work with families on goal setting and determining what steps they need to take to achieve their goals. And I work on recruiting, which isn’t hard since I can speak from experience!

As for my personal goals, I’m now back in college. I went from a 1.5 GPA to a 3.2. I pushed myself, did all assignments, studied for midterms and finals, and told myself I have to get at least 3.0—and I did it, thanks to a lot of support that I received.

I’m pursuing a degree in psychology and my goal is to earn my MSW.

In addition to my college classes, I’m taking the Family Development Credential (FDC) program to gain a deeper understanding of my new role.

Working hard with my daughter, I saw the progress at the end. Things didn’t start out the way I would have wanted them to—much like I didn’t intend for my college years to include a 1.5 GPA—but, with hard work and a lot of support, I learned that a rough path still can lead to the goal you were pursuing all along.

La Historia de Breinny (in Spanish and English)

Scroll down for English version

Breinny and her social worker at Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens, for Hispanic Heritage Month

Breinny (izquierda) y su terapeuta, Miss Gerda, celebrando a Frida Kahlo durante el Mes de la Herencia Hispana / Breinny (left) and her therapist, Miss Gerda, celebrating Frida Kahlo during Hispanic Heritage Month

Breinny es una estudiante en el grado 12 de la escuela Pan American International High School en Elmhurst, NY. Desde mayo 2021, ella ha estado recibiendo terapia con Gerda González, LMSW, en su lengua maternal de español, usando el centro de bienestar basado en su escuela. Esta es su historia en sus propias palabras.

Crecí con mi padre en la república dominicana y vine a los estados unidos a vivir con mi madre hace dos años atrás. Han habido muchas cosas positivas de estar aquí. He podido conocer a muchas differentes personas y de muchas culturas diferentes. He hecho muchos buenos amigos. Nunca había vivido con mi madre antes, y me costaba mucho acostumbrarme a estar con ella. Teníamos problemas con comunicación, y no sabia bien que hacer. Me estaba sintiendo desperanzada, preocupada, y estresada acerca del futuro. Yo estaba perdiendo motivación para la escuela y empecé a separarme de mis amistades y familia.

Una maestra notó que estaba pasando y me recomendó para servicios de salud mental en el centro de bienestar de mi escuela.

Al principio, no estaba segura, pero después de mi primera sesión, empecé a sentir que un gran peso de encima se había levantado de mis hombros. Yo sentí que podia respirar mas facilmente.

La terapia me ha ayudado a encontrar a alguien que escuche mis problemas sin juzgar y aprender habilidades que me ayudan cada dia. Puedo pensar mas críticamente y ser menos impulsiva cuando tomo decisiones. Pienso mucho antes de actuar. Mi relación con mi madre ha mejorado gracias a las habilidades de comunicación que he aprendido, y las estrategias para lidiar que me han ayudado con momentos difíciles en la escuela. Siento que si no hubiera recibido terapia, mi relación con mi madre estaría peor ahora, y no podría esforzarme en la escuela.

Ahora mismo estoy en 12 grado, y antes de recibir servicios, había perdido la esperanza de ir a la universidad. Miss Gerda me conectó con adultos en mi escuela quienes me ayudaron entender el proceso para aplicar para la universidad.

Lo que aprendo en terapia me ayuda para el futuro. Veo el mundo de una forma mas positiva. Tengo una buena relación con mis compañeros. Tengo metas claras para mi future y quiero ser exitosa. Tengo metas de convertirme mas independiente y ir a una universidad buena. ¡Mis notas son excelentes! Estoy muy bien en la escuela y tengo notas en los altos 90 en todas mis clases ahora. He podido enfocarme en la escuela, mientras antes de empezar terapia, me costaba.

He encontrado algo mas que disfruto: siendo líder de Peer Group Connection (PGC). Siendo lider de PGC, ayudo a los alumnos de noveno a integrarse a la escuela secundaria y aprender acerca de otras cosas aparte de lo académico. Tengo un grupo de alumnos de noveno con los que trabajo, y jugamos juegos juntos y creamos un vínculo mas fuerte. Es muy divertido ser una líder de PGC. Me encanta conocer a los alumnos y ayudarlos crear una comunidad mejor para nuestra escuela.

Cuando quieres algo, no es siempre fácil conseguirlo, pero si vale la pena. Terapia me ha ayudado a aprender que es importante continuar a esforzarse a derrotar adversidades y trabajar hacia tus metas – y me ha enseñado que si soy capaz de conseguirlas.

Breinny’s Story (in English)

Breinny is a senior at Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens. Since May 2021, she has received therapy with Gerda Gonzalez, LMSW, in her native language of Spanish, through her school’s school-based mental health wellness center. This is her story in her own words.

  I grew up with my father in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States to live with my mom two years ago. There have been a lot of good things about being here. I have been able to meet many different people from many different cultures. I have made good friends. But I had never lived with my mother before, and I was struggling to get used to being with her. We had issues with communication, and I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling hopeless, worried, and stressed about the future. I was losing my motivation in school and even began to withdraw from my friends and family.

A teacher noticed what was going on and recommended me for mental health services through my school’s wellness center.

At first, I wasn’t sure, but after my first session, I began to feel like a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe more easily.

Therapy has helped me find someone who can hear my issues without judging and guide me in learning skills that help me deal with challenges. I am able to think more critically and be less impulsive about decisions. I think a lot more before I act. My relationship with my mother is better thanks to communication skills I have learned, and coping strategies have helped me handle difficult moments in school. I feel like if I had not gotten therapy, my relationship with my mother would be worse now, and I would not be trying so hard in school.

I’m currently a senior, and before receiving services, I had lost hope in attending college. Miss Gerda connected me to adults in my school who could help me understand the college application process.

What I learn in therapy will help me in the future. I see the world in a more positive way. I have a good relationship with my classmates. I have clear goals for my future and want to be successful. I have goals of becoming independent and attending a good college. My grades are really great! I’m doing so well in school and have high 90s in all of my classes now. I’ve been able to focus on my schoolwork, which used to be a struggle before beginning therapy.

I found something else I enjoy: being a Peer Group Connection (PGC) leader. As a PGC leader, I help freshmen integrate into high school and learn about things other than academics. I have a group of ninth graders I engage with, and we play games together to help create a stronger bond. It is really fun to be a PGC leader. I love meeting students and helping them create a better community for our school.

When you want something, it isn’t always easy to get it, but it is worth it. Therapy has helped me learn that it is important to continue to strive to defeat adversities and work toward your goals — and it’s taught me that I really am capable of achieving them.

Abigail’s Story

Abigail and Ms. Barkan from Parsons SONYC program at Q252, The Queens School of Inquiry

Abigail (right) with Youth Advocate Ms. Barkan

When I first got to middle school, I was super quiet and didn’t have the confidence to talk to anyone, unless they spoke to me first.

This lack of confidence affected my attitude toward my schoolwork. I came into school hating ELA. But Ms. Barkan, who started off as my 6th grade ELA teacher, took her time with me and helped me understand everything.

It took some time, but I began to look forward to Ms. Barkan’s class. We built a strong bond, and when she asked me to participate in the Steps to Success* SONYC-QSI program, I accepted, knowing I would have time to talk with Ms. Barkan.

At first, I was scared to open up to Ms. Barkan and everyone in the group, but I saw that she and the group wouldn’t judge me for expressing my feelings and stating my opinions. They gave me the confidence to speak up and even provide others with advice.

Whenever I experienced any hardships, like others talking badly to me or about me, Ms. Barkan would be the first person I would go to because I didn’t feel judged by her and I knew she would listen and provide guidance. With Steps to Success, I felt that I always had someone to talk to about my feelings, and I knew they were listening to me, wanting to help me and not judge me.

Without Steps to Success and Ms. Barkan, I would still be this shy person, instead of the confident and outgoing person I have become through the program. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

Abigail’s Story: Ms. Barkan’s Perspective

By Jessica Barkan, Youth Advocate, the Parsons SONYC program at Q252, The Queens School of Inquiry

Abigail’s story is one that is extra special to me because she started off as my sixth-grade student, right before the pandemic hit, and then Abigail became my mentee in the Steps to Success* program the next school year.

I want you to picture a shy girl who can’t make eye contact, who tries to hide in her hoodie, and who has the lowest of confidence socially and academically. A girl who doesn’t believe she is smart enough to answer questions or as good of a writer as other students.

Due to feeling this way, her grades were lower than they should have been. Abigail was in danger of failing and having to go to summer school. Regarding the social aspect, Abigail didn’t have friends in her class, and it took her a long time to socialize and feel comfortable enough to talk to other students.

This was Abigail when I first met her. My goal was to get her out of her hard shell and build her confidence.

I somehow convinced Abigail to join Steps to Success, promising that it would help her with her social skills and confidence. I even told her that I would make time for one-on-one sessions where she could tell me what she needed support in, and I would walk her through it all.

The process wasn’t easy or quick, but Abigail put in the work. She showed up every day to Steps to Success (remotely at the time, which was an even bigger deal) and participated. I made sure the topics would be of interest to her and relatable. She loved debating and talking about controversial topics, whether those topics had to do with gender, culture, bias, or even just basic communication skills. I had Abigail lead conversations, and this led her to be more confident in sharing her feelings about different topics of discussion.

Over time, Abigail would be the first one to show up to the Steps to Success Google Meet, ready for the next topic. She would confidently participate in conversations and then listen attentively to the day’s discussion.

I started to notice positive changes in other aspects of Abigail’s life. She was completing all of her assignments and receiving passing grades in subjects in which she had struggled previously. She was initiating conversation with other students who were on the “quieter” side, like she herself was. In so doing, she began to come out of her shell, which provided her with more confidence to get her work done. It was as if the social aspect were motivating her to care more about her academics.

Abigail, too, noticed the change. She told me she felt proud of herself because she was doing better in school, felt more confident communicating her feelings to teachers and friends, and finally could appreciate what she brought to the table.

Although Steps to Success was not the easiest or most comfortable process for Abigail, she no longer hides. She is now able to make eye contact, express herself without pause, and feel proud of herself. She has put herself out there socially and has tried harder academically. Is Abigail’s shell still there? Of course, but it is a lot softer now.

*Steps to Success is made possible at The Child Center of NY with funding from Sterling National Bank Charitable Foundation.

Nyomi’s Story

Nyomi was a resident of The Child Center Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) from July 2020-June 2021. Severe aggressive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and poor social skills had led to dangerous situations, and Nyomi found herself involved in the juvenile justice system at 15 years old. The Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) referred Nyomi to The Child Center RTF. Below is her story, in her own words.

Nyomi, a client of the child center residential treatment facility (RTF) in Brooklyn I live in Poughkeepsie, New York, with my mom and five siblings. I am the oldest.

I live there now, and I lived there before, but for a year I lived at The Child Center of NY RTF.

I was sent there because I was running away and got locked up. I don’t want to talk about why I was running away. I would get mad and just leave. The last time, they gave me two choices: go to a secure facility or go to the RTF, where I could do home visits. I requested the RTF.

At first, I was really nervous, but then I realized it wasn’t that bad. My first day there, I met Youth Advocates Taheem Powell, Geraldine Lelanne, Jennifer Perez, and Brian Louis. They showed me they actually cared. If I was going through stuff, I could talk to any of them. They were always there for me. I could tell them my secrets, about how I was feeling, and they wouldn’t tell anybody, they would just help me. I could say, “Can I talk to you?” to any of them — Jennifer and Brian, and also Dolores Davis and Unit Leaders Jackie German and Rasheim Smith… all my favorite staff — and they would say yes.

 I had individual therapy and family therapy at the RTF. I learned to manage my thoughts by using coping skills and expressing my feelings instead of running away or hurting anybody.

 Things with my mom are much better. She says I improved a whole lot — a complete 180! At family therapy sessions, we talked about what caused me to end up in placement, and what I needed to do to return home and remain home. And now I’m home! I’ve been free from self-harm for not only the three months pre-discharge, but also following discharge. I worked at a local farm over the summer. Now I’m a senior in my old high school, after going to school at the RTF,* where I did really well. I took geometry, algebra, and other classes. I was promoted to 12th grade, and I am going to graduate early! I’m glad I’m going to get to graduate from my old school.

I’ve been at home for five months now. I stay connected to my Credible Messenger and am continuing therapy and working toward my life’s goals. I want to become a veterinarian because I love animals.

 Back then — before I went to the RTF — to now, I’ve really improved. Before, when I got mad, I just left and didn’t come back. Now, I ask my mom, “Can I go somewhere?” and she says yes or no. If she says no and I get mad, I can go to my room and look at my phone or call one of my friends. I’m more responsible, and we get along more. My mom, she’ll talk to me about things. She says she knows what to do if I give her a problem — but it’s rare now.

 

*During Nyomi’s time at the RTF, she attended school on site through the NYC Department of Education. The RTF is unique in this way, as Nyomi was able to receive special education services through the DOE while receiving support from milieu staff.

Logan’s Story

My name is Logan, and I’m in sixth grade. I live in Flushing with my grandmother and my mom, who is a Utilization Management Nurse. While she works, I go to the Beacon afterschool program at Parsons Community School.

Logan, a participant at Parsons Beacon afterschool program in Flushing, Queens

Logan with the Surface laptop he received from The Child Center after completing a coding class

At first I liked Parsons just because most of the kids from my school were in it. I also made new friends, and the staff are so nice and have given us so much. For example, they have a lot of events like the game truck, paint nights, and food giveaways. They are easy to talk to, and a challenge they helped me with was talking to some of the other kids. The staff help us with any problems we have. For example, when someone is hurt they would take care of it. Ms. Jayme helps me with my homework, like math, which is my favorite subject. She was very patient and helped me a lot. I know I can go to any of them with any problems I need help with.

I’ve been going to Parsons for two and half years. I still like going to Parsons because of my friends and the staff, and I also like going because the activities are a lot of fun. I do activities like graphic design, color theory, and coding. Color theory teaches me different things like the color categories and types. Graphic design is a program that helps me make pictures on the computer. Coding taught me how to make characters to build videos and other programs on the computer. All of these can help me reach my goal of becoming a heart surgeon because everything uses computers. I also play basketball when we go in person!

Parsons Beacon always has something special going on, in addition to our regular activities. One of my favorites was the Just a Kid from Queens speaker series. I got to see how people like me, from my neighborhood, grew up and went on to do interesting things. What I liked about the series was the information they had to say and the lesson I learned every time. My favorite speaker was Jean-Wesley because he is disciplined and has a passion for becoming a wine sommelier even though not a lot of Black men do that job. He went to school and worked at the same time. He also comes from a diverse background and has worked in different kinds of jobs. He let me know I can do whatever I want in life.

***

Note from Logan’s mom, Bianca: “I love the Parsons Beacon Program because it affords the participants opportunities to learn about so many things that are integral to succeeding in the world of technology and arts we live in today. Not only do they provide skills training, they also provide role models to show the kids where and how far their skills will take them. Parsons’ staff puts great effort into the success of their program and exude their love for the kids and community every step of the way. They are a true example of excellence in community service and development!”

La Historia de Melinda (in Spanish and English)

Scroll down for English version

Hola, mi nombre es Melinda. Tengo dos hijos se llaman Emely (12 años) and Erick (un año). Soy participante de las familias del Child Center de NY y estoy enormemente agradecida con el centro por todo el soporte que ellos me han dado. Perdí mi esposo cuando el menor de mis hijos tenía 6 semanas debido al COVID. Mi cuñada me recomendó el centro y el Child Center de NY me ha ayudado mucho.

Cuando empecé en el centro, les conté mi historia, y basado en lo que les conte ellos me conectaron con otras fuentes y gracias a esas recomendaciones ahora estoy recibiendo terapia con Nicole Stroke. Nicole y mi trabajadora social y mi trabajadora de casa nos han apoyado mucho a mí y a mi familia de muchas maneras distintas. Mi experiencia con el COVID ha sido muy fuerte, desde la perdida de mi esposo todo ha sido muy difícil, el aceptar la realidad para mi hija y para mí no ha sido nada fácil. Mi trabajadora de casa, Eliana, me llama dos veces a la semana para hacer seguimiento conmigo, hablamos de mis hijos, de mi familia y ella siempre me pregunta si hay algún cambio desde la última vez que hablamos, me siento bien cuando hablo con ella.

El centro me ha ayudado con fondos monetarios, comida, juguetes, y libros. Erick es parte de los niños participantes en nuestro programa de Early Head Start en Astoria. Erick estaba teniendo problemas con sus habilidades de movimiento finas, y Eliana me apoyo dándome actividades para ayudarlo con sus habilidades de movimiento. El programa también me dio guianza en como ayudarle a el con su aprendizaje y yo se que el por medio de esto estará listo y preparado para tener éxito el la escuela preescolar y kinder cuando llegue su momento.

Estoy muy agradecida con el centro porque ellos me han estado asistiendo vigorosamente y siempre logran hacerme sentir bien. Perder un ser querido es duro, especialmente si es su esposo. Mi hija de 12 años se ha visto muy afectada por la pérdida de su padre y a mí me duele profundamente el verle así, lo único que nos da consuelo son todas las memorias que su padre dejo en ella durante estos años. Una vez mas gracias a este centro y sus diferentes fuentes a las que ellos me han conectado. Mi hija ahora está recibiendo terapia, a pesar que ella siente que la terapia no es necesaria; yo sé que será una gran ayuda y a largo plazo beneficioso para ella. La primera vez que ella recibió terapia ella se sintió bien y yo también estoy tratando de apoyarla con la terapia y con la ayuda que estoy recibiendo le he dicho que tenemos que ser fuertes para poder superar nuestra perdida. Mi hija siempre esta preocupada y piensa mucho que pasara con nosotros ya que mi esposo era el proveedor en nuestra familia, pero con la ayuda del Child Center de NY hemos sido conectados con otros programas que nos están ayudando con la parte monetaria de la renta y también tenemos cupones de alimentos.

El Child Center de NY a sido una enorme ayuda para mi familia y para mi y estoy sumamente agradecida.


Melinda’s Story

Hello, my name Melinda. I have two kids, Emely, who is 12, and Erick, who just turned one. I lost my husband to COVID when my youngest baby was 6 weeks old. My sister-in-law recommended me to the Early Head Start program at The Child Center of NY.

In addition to providing comprehensive child development and family support services through our Early Head Start program in Astoria, The Child Center supplied the family with toys and books, as well as food and financial assistance.

When I enrolled Erick in the program, I told them my story, and based on what I told them, they connected me to other resources. Thanks to those recommendations, I am now receiving therapy with Nicole Stroke through The Child Center. Nicole and our Early Head Start family worker and home visitor have been supporting my family and me in various ways.

My experience with COVID has been hard. Since the loss of my husband, it’s been very difficult for my daughter and me to adjust to reality. Eliana, my home visitor, calls me twice a week to follow up with me and to talk about my son and my family. I always look forward to her call.

The Child Center has helped me with monetary funds, food, toys, and books, and with Erick’s education. Erick is a participant in the Early Head Start program in Astoria. He was having a hard time with his fine motor skills, and Eliana provided extra activities to support those skills. They also guide me in supporting Erick’s learning, and I know he will be prepared to succeed in preschool and in kindergarten when the time comes.

I am very grateful to The Child Center because they have been helping me unwaveringly, and they manage to always meet my needs and make me feel good. To lose a loved one, it’s hard, especially if it’s your husband. My daughter has been really affected by it; she has been suffering because of the loss of her dad, and it hurts me deeply to see her like that. What makes us feel better are the memories that her dad had built with her along the years. She was resistant to therapy at first, but I know she is benefiting from it, and it will be a big help for her down the line. The first time she had therapy she felt better, and also the support that I have been receiving has lessened her anxiety. My daughter is always worrying and thinking about our future because my husband was the family provider, but with the help of The Child Center of NY, I have been connected to other programs that are currently helping me with the rent and getting food stamps.

The Child Center of NY has been an enormous help for me and for my family, and I am very thankful.

Editor’s Note: You can help families like Melinda’s by making a year-end donation to support our programs, or donating to our holiday toy drive, through which 100% of donations go toward purchasing a gift for a child whose family is struggling. Every donation makes a difference. 

Trina’s Story

 

 The staff at Redfern Cornerstone Community Center have been my angels. That was true before COVID, and it is even more true now.

Trina and Terrell at Redfern Cornerstone Community CenterI’m a single mom who works as a home health aide. I have a 6-year-old son, Terrell, and a daughter at college.

Terrell first began going to Redfern for summer camp in 2019 when he was 5 years old. He had the time of his life. He would come home and tell me stories about all the people he met. It was just so welcoming and friendly. Before this, he was in the house all day, and being at Redfern really opened him up. They introduced him to arts and crafts, which he enjoys a lot.

When the summer ended, I was glad to learn that Redfern offered an afterschool program and signed him up right away. I was grateful for the homework help, and Terrell loved the field trips. His favorite was ice skating. I was so terrified to let him go, but he said, “I’m gonna be fine, don’t worry about it!” And he was. The staff sent me a video of him on the ice. He was so happy! The program really broadened Terrell’s horizons and gave him experiences he wouldn’t otherwise have had. They also helped him with behavioral issues, and I saw a real difference. Life had settled into a good routine, which is very helpful when you’re a single mom!

Then COVID hit. Everything went south and shut down. We muddled through the spring with my daughter home from college to watch Terrell, but I wasn’t sure what we were going to do for the summer. At least with virtual learning at school he was somewhat engaged. I worried that during the summer he’d have nothing.

I was so glad when I found out that Redfern would be doing summer camp. It was virtual, and I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it turned out great. My daughter was able to provide supervision, but with the programming through Redfern, she didn’t have to entertain him all day. He got to interact with his friends and the staff, whom he loves.

Terrell on his way to Redfern

Terrell on his way to Redfern

Once school started back up again and my daughter had to go back to college, I didn’t know what to do — again — since school was going to be virtual. I seriously contemplated quitting my job because my son had to come first.

That’s when Redfern got the green light to open for the Learning Bridges program. This has helped me out a whole lot!

Learning Bridges is for students who need a safe space to conduct their virtual learning during school hours. Terrell attends virtual school while he’s at Redfern, and staff are there to make sure he stays on task and to answer any questions or help with any problems.

When the kids come in in the morning, they sign in, wash their hands, and log on to class. They take little breaks throughout the day, and staff make sure they log back on in time for their next class. And although there are a lot of kids there, they make it work. The staff gave noise-cancelling headphones to any students who didn’t have them, and they give them a private place to work when needed. Once Terrell’s teacher wanted to test his reading, and I asked the staff if he could have a quieter area for the testing. They said no problem.

Shantrice and Terrell at Redfern Rosing ceremony

Terrell with Ms. Shantrice at Redfern’s “rosing ceremony,” honoring students who completed their first full semester of remote learning at Redfern and the challenges that they overcame

When the school day ends, they transition right into the center’s afterschool program, where Terrell can get his homework done and participate in enrichment activities, which he can’t get enough of. At 5:30 when I pick him up, I ask him what he likes about the center, and he’ll say, “I like to make things with clay!” or “I like the new games.” He also talks about the staff and how he likes that [Group Leader] Ms. Shantrice colors with him. He also loves [Program Site Coordinator] Mr. Keith, [Program Coordinator] Ms. Rosmary, and [Program Director] Mr. Simeon, who is amazing and always makes sure Terrell is OK. They’re all great, and I think of them as a team. As a mom, it makes me so glad to know my son is well-cared for all day and happy.

It’s like one big family here. The staff really treat your child like their own. Everyone knows them and cares about them. Especially during the pandemic, I needed the help really bad, and this program saved me. That’s why I say they’re my angels. The best thing I ever could have done was sign Terrell up for Redfern. 

La Historia de Angela (in Spanish and English)

Scroll down for English version.

Nota del editor: Operation Parenting es un grupo de padres para padres immigrates y otros cuidadores que tienen niños en terapia en una clínica de salud conductual del Child Center of NY. Los terapeutas que provienen de la misma cultura que sus clientes ofrecen las clases en el idioma natal de los clientes. Angela asistió al grupo de habla hispana en la Clínica Flushing.

Angela, graduada del programa Operation Parenting, junto al lider de dicho programa, Benito Green. (Angela, with Group Leader Benito Green, graduated from the Operation Parenting program.)

Yo soy Angela, tengo un hijo de 11 años de edad llamado Franklyn. Las clases de Operation Parenting me ayudaaron mucho a ser una mejor madre. Durante el tiempo que duraron las clases del programa Operation Parenting, discutimos muchas temas de sobre tecnicas de resolucion de situaciones problematicas en los miembros de nuestra familia sin tener que gritar o implentar otra medida inapropiada. Este programa me facilito varias estrategias e ideas sobre cómo manejar mejor a mi hijo y entender por qué actúa de la manera que lo hace.

Vine al grupo porque Franklyn, mi hijo, tenía mal temperamento y no respetaba ni a mí, ni a su padre. Frecuentemente, Franklyn no entendia cuando su padre y yo les decimos que no podiamos comprarle lo que el queria. El mostraba un alto nivel de impaciencia, pues sin entender razones, las cosas que el pedia, las queria de inmediato. También, a Franlkyn le asustaban las cosas y los lugares nuevos. Yo quería ayudarlo con esto estas situaciones porque siempre he querido ayudar a mi hijo para que este preparado para enfrentar los desafios del mundo por si mismo, asabiendas que yo no estare con el todo el tiempo para ayudarlo.

En el program Operation Parenting, todos los temas que discutimos todos los viernes ayudaron a todos los miembros de mi famila: a mí, a mi hijo, y tambien a mi esposo; aun cuando yo fui la inica que asistion a las clases. Una de las lecciones mas memorable para mi, fue aquella que tenia como enfoque de “No le drle a tu hijo todo lo que quiere. … Haz que lo merezca o que se lo gane.” En dicha clase discutimos cómo realizar dicha idea sabiendo qué hacer en el momento.

Todo lo aprendido en las clases, trato de llevarlo a la practictica en casa con el proposito de saber si las nuevas técnicas  ayudaran de forma efectiva a los miemrosde mi familia. En cada técnica yo utilizo la misma idea básica de programa que es construir una relación con mi hijo, basada en la empatía y la comprensión, en lugar de exigir y cerrarme a las posibilidades de cambios.

Todavía tengo la autoridad, pero ahora tenemos una conversación en lugar de gritar. Como dice Benito Green, el facilitador de grupo: “Si introducimos un cambio, la dinámica de toda la familia cambiara”;  como Franklyn está recibiendo terapia aquí, también está aprendiendo a cambiar. El cambio no ocurre de la noche a la mañana, pero esa la perceverancia es otra cosa que aprendí a través de este grupo: nunca te rindas y siempre encuentres la manera de propiciar un cambio o de resolver uno o mas problemas. Como dicen: “El amor siempre encontrará un camino,” y amo mucho a mis hijos.

En ocaciones pensamos que somos demasiado tercos, temerosos o fuertes para buscar ayuda. Ahora sé que el hecho de buscar ayuda me ha convirtido en una madre más fuerte. Ya no peleamos ni gritamos tanto desde que comencé a venir a las clases del Progama Operation Parenting. Los miembros de mi familia nos entendemos major y como familia, somos mas felices.

El grupo acaba de terminar, pero las niñas [las madres del grupo] intercambiamos números de teléfono para formar nuestro propio grupo personal y continuar apoyándonos mutuamente.

Estoy muy feliz de haber sido parte de este grupo. Este era el lugar correcto para que recibir ayuda.

Nota del editor: para una mirada conmovedora, auténtica y divertida de la desconexión y el amor entre los padres de inmigrantes y sus hijos Estadounidenses, vea Season 1, Episodio 2 de Aziz Ansari’s Master of None series, disponible en Netflix.


Angela’s Story

Editor’s Note: Operation Parenting is a parenting group for immigrant parents and other caregivers who have children in therapy at a Child Center behavioral health clinic. The groups are offered in clients’ home languages by therapists who come from the same culture as their clients. Angela attended the Spanish-speaking group at the Flushing Clinic.

I am Angela. I have an 11-year-old son named Franklyn. The Operation Parenting class helped me a lot to become a better mother. We discussed many things on how to solve problems without yelling. It gave me tools and ideas on how to handle my son better and understand why he acts the way he does.

I came to the group because Franklyn had a bad temper and wasn’t respecting me or his father. He doesn’t understand when we tell him we can’t buy him what he wants right away. He also gets scared of new things and places. I wanted to help him with this because I want him to be ready for the world out there without me helping him all the time.

All the topics we discussed every Friday helped me, my son, or my husband. One of them was, “Don’t give your son everything he wants. … Make him deserve or earn.” We discussed how to follow through with that idea so we know what to do in the moment.

Whatever I learn in the class, I try to do it in the house to find out if this new technique will help my son better. Every technique uses the same basic idea: that I want to build a relationship with my son, based on empathy and understanding, instead of demanding and shutting things down. I still have the authority, but now we have a conversation instead of yelling. As Benito, our group leader, says, if we introduce a change, the whole family dynamic will change. And because Franklyn is in therapy here, he is learning how to change, too. The change doesn’t happen overnight, but that is another thing I learned through this group: never give up and always find a way. Like they say, “Love will find a way,” and I love my children a lot.

Sometimes we are too stubborn or afraid or strong to look for help. Now I know that getting help made me a stronger mother. We don’t fight or yell that much since I started coming to the class. We understand each other better. We are happier as a family.

The group just ended, but the girls [moms in the group] all exchanged phone numbers to make our own personal group and continue to support each other.

I am so happy I was a part of this group. This was the right place for us to get help.

Editor’s note: For a moving, authentic, and funny look at both the disconnect and love between immigrant parents and their American children, see Season 1, Episode 2 of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None series, available on Netflix.


Recent Blog Posts

Translate »