Our Children and Families

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)

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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)

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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.

Jessica’s Story

Jessica, a Child Center of NY client, with her high school diploma from Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School

Jessica with her high school diploma

I was born and raised in Queens, with just my brother and my mother. My mother is from San Salvador; she raised me and my brother alone all of our lives. Although it was just the three of us, there were always good times. My mother always had my best interest in her mind. We did not have much money growing up, but my mother made sure we always had a roof over our heads and food on our table.

In school, I did OK for a while, but that changed when I got to high school. I was not thinking about my future, missing classes and enjoying time with friends. My lack of motivation or of any goals regarding what I wanted to do after high school made it all seem unimportant, and I became extremely behind in my classes.

When I finally decided I wanted to get my act together, I realized just how much damage I had caused myself. I couldn’t believe how many classes I needed in order to graduate on time. I tried to take as many classes as I needed to graduate, but it became too overwhelming and difficult. To make matters worse, I started to compare myself to others and think about where I should have been, about all the mistakes I had made over the years. I felt like I was the only one struggling with passing all my classes. I began to feel it was impossible for me to graduate.

I almost gave up, but then my counselor told me about Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School, where The Child Center of NY serves as lead CBO [community-based organization]. She told me that YABC was what’s called an alternate high school that focuses on providing individual support to help over-age and under-credited students graduate. Just knowing that there was such a place immediately made me feel better and less alone — and like graduating might actually be possible.

When I first arrived at YABC at the age of 18, the staff was very understanding and nonjudgmental about my difficulty with high school. They wanted to get to know me and what caused me to have difficulty in school to prevent it from happening again. I told them that I needed a lot of classes in order to graduate, and in the past I had become overwhelmed with how many classes I needed. When I mentioned this to the staff, they made sure I took classes and arranged a schedule that would not overwhelm me. The teachers made the environment very relaxed and easygoing to follow along with materials. I have had issues with teachers in the past, but at YABC the teachers were all amazing, and a big part of what helped me succeed. They all want to see you graduate and are very easy to talk to. They want to get to know you, hear what brought you here, and give you advice and their opinions on problems you might have. Thanks to the teaching at YABC, even when I needed a lot of classes, I never once felt overwhelmed or stressed. I never failed a single class.

Most of the students had the same mindset of wanting to graduate and move forward with their lives. The majority of them had been through the same struggle of trying to graduate and were determined to make it happen. I caught on to that mindset quickly, which really helped me not to focus on trivial things; it reminded me what I came there for: to graduate and to focus on my future.

I began to realize that I really could graduate, and that I needed a plan for post-graduation. I talked to Alain Cedeno, Flushing YABC’s assistant program director and coordinator of the LTW (Learn to Work) Program, and he helped me gain valuable work experience through an internship at The Child Center of NY.

My duties as an intern varied day to day from calling vendors to filing paper work and just helping around if anyone needed something, from copying to scanning. Just doing these simple tasks benefited me a lot. For example, calling vendors and talking to people helped me develop communication skills and taught me how to be more vocal in my everyday life.

By interning at The Child Center of NY, I was able to explore different fields and positions. This helped me profoundly, since before I started working at The Child Center of NY, I did not have an idea of what I wanted to do after I graduated. However, through working for The Child Center, I was able to gain an understanding of fields that I would be interested in — especially finance.

As time passed, people started to give me more tasks, and I became more comfortable. A full-time position opened up as Account Payable Associate, and thanks to my job performance, my supervisors at The Child Center recommended me for the position — and I got the job! Now that I am working at The Child Center of NY, I’m gaining valuable skills and assets that will help me in the future.

That’s the biggest thing that YABC helped me with:  helping me focus on my future. Now that I understand the possibilities I can achieve, I have a drive and desire to improve myself for the long term. This past January, I realized a goal that a few years ago seemed impossible: I graduated from YABC and earned my high school diploma! My plan now is to pursue a professionally rewarding career in finance. In order to do that, I need to go to college. This fall, I will be starting my associate degree in accounting at LaGuardia Community College. Then I will pursue my bachelor’s degree. My goal is to have a career in accounting and become financially independent.

I know now that there a lot of people out there like me who have struggled to keep up in school and may be overwhelmed and feeling hopeless. I wish those people will find YABC instead of giving up. At YABC, everyone’s goal is to make sure you graduate, and they understand that there is more to life after high school. The staff and teachers will help with any issue you have, from a problem at home to a teacher or student. They will help you look toward your future after high school, from helping you apply to colleges to assisting you in looking for alternate education options aside from college. Through the internship program, you will be able to gain firsthand workforce experience, from working with animals to senior citizens and a wide variety of jobs. And if you are not interested in an internship, they will still help you look for a job or simply help you with your resumé. They believe in you — and as a result, you will believe in yourself, too.

Joshua’s Story

I came to New York from Guyana when I was 13 years old. I wasn’t too broken up about it. Now and again I did miss home, but I knew I had a lot of opportunities here. In this country you have a chance to make something of yourself.

One problem I had was issues with my brother, Jonathan. He was difficult to deal with. He would destroy my belongings, take my things … I would get mad and we’d have bad fights and disagreements. A few times things turned physical. That’s when I started counseling with Miss Austin in the HALE program. She talked with me, my mother, and sometimes Jonathan. She helped me learn how to handle my concerns without things turning physical and to recognize when to ignore things. She also helped my mom talk to Jonathan and help him understand that it isn’t acceptable to treat your family this way.

When I was 16, I told Miss Austin that I wanted to start working because I wanted some money in my pocket and to start taking care of myself. She told me about JobNet and helped me get started.

I met Samantha, who worked at JobNet, and Ms. Diggs, the program director, and I started working for the program as a receptionist. It was an interesting experience. I learned how to answer the phones, welcome and greet visitors, and take messages. Through Career Club I learned to be professional, to always be there on time, and to follow instructions. I enjoyed working with the people there, and it left me feeling like I had connections—that I could come back any time to show them what I was doing. People at JobNet want to help you make something of yourself. They care about your future. Even though I’m out of the program more than two years, I came back to show them what I’m up to now: becoming a firefighter.

When I first came to this country and was in middle school, I saw the ambulances and the firetruck go by and I had a feeling that was the career I wanted to get into. I did the hard work to get into FDNY Captain Vernon A. Richard High School for Fire and Life Safety and graduated in 2015.

Now I’m studying to become an NYC EMT, and then in a couple of years, I can become an FDNY firefighter.

The road wasn’t easy. The first time I took the test, I got a 68 and needed a 70. But I didn’t give up. I took it two more times, and I finally did it. Now I’ve completed the Winter EMS Academy, and I’m on my way to becoming a firefighter.

Things are better now.I had experiences at JobNet that I really treasure and that shaped me into the person I am supposed to be. I learned how to be responsible when I have a job to do, and that I can do it. And I never would have met these amazing people that I enjoy talking to.

My relationship with my brother is different from how it was back then. We don’t argue as much or get into altercations as much as we did back then. There’s less fights and more talking.

That’s one of the things I learned from Miss Austin and from the people at JobNet: Most things in life require hard work, but once you put in the work, the results you are looking for will happen.

Tristan’s Story

Tristan, from Redfern Cornerstone Community CenterI struggle with math in school, and Mr. Hunter at the Redfern Cornerstone Community Center, where I go after school, helps me better understand my math problems. Mr. Hunter also helps me with focus, motivation, and becoming organized. He was able to explain things better for me to understand.

Before I started getting help at the center, I received a bad report card and was very disappointed. The staff in the center helped me understand the work and on the next report card not to fail and not to give up. Now I’m doing much better. I wish we had robotics here, but Mr. Hunter still teaches about history, science, money, and internet safety.

We don’t have much to do in Far Rockaway, and I come to the center to have fun plus see my friends. I like everything about the center! I like the computer lab, playing basketball games, dancing, and the staff. I don’t have a best part because I like everything. When the center was shut down, I did not have a place to go, so I stayed home with my grandmother after school.

I want to be a basketball player, wrestler, or scientist when I grow up. That’s why I like the science projects and goal-setting projects we do in Steps to Success at the center and the basketball games we go to.

The center is the place where you can be with your friends and call them family.

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