Don’t Leave Them Stranded Again

Every Dollar You Give Goes to Redfern!

I am excited to tell you about our Redfern campaign, where every dollar raised will go directly to the Redfern Cornerstone Community Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. One year ago, children went to the Center for their afterschool program, as usual, and found the doors locked and a note on the door: the center was closed until further notice.

School-age kids, literally stranded on the doorstep. It’s painful to imagine. So when the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development asked us to become the new provider for Redfern, we just couldn’t — would never — say no. Overnight, we had to come up with a budget, programming, and staffing.

Redfern is in a tough neighborhood. It lacks services most of us take for granted, such as recreational activities and high-quality health care — and without the Redfern Cornerstone program, it would lack tutoring and afterschool enrichment opportunities.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the reopening of the center, someone was shot to death in the bodega across the street. Not a stranger — someone these kids knew from the neighborhood. I was so concerned that the police presence and crime scene tape would upset the kids on a day of celebration. The kids are used to it, someone explained to me. And then tragically, in the first two months of this year, two 15-year-old boys were shot to death, one of whom attended our centers; two families will never be the same again. We can’t be okay with this being the norm. We vowed “never to get used to it.” The loss of these young lives continues to break my heart each and every time. It actually enrages me, and I pray that never changes.

Those are the sad things, but here’s what’s good: parents who continually show up for their children, physically and emotionally; and kids who dream of a future in which they can be anything, just like all kids do. When we told the kids we were launching this campaign, they were so excited. “Do you think we can get some recreational equipment?” one child asked. Please, let’s show them that their larger New York community cares about them and are willing to help close the gap, so they have a fighting chance to compete and succeed. It really is in our power to do it.

For the next three weeks, every dollar donated through the links on this page will go directly to the space and programs used by Redfern kids. Kids like Tristian (pictured below, in front), who told us, “I struggle with math, and the center helps me understand the problems I have. We don’t have much to do in Far Rockaway, and I come to have fun, plus see my friends. Even though I wish robotics was here, Mr. Kirk teaches about science, money, and internet safety. When the center was shut down, I did not have a place to go.”

We need your help to remind these kids that they do matter and offer them a reason to say no to violence by offering them something to say yes to. Your gift will go directly to help us provide programming specific to these children and their community — such as robotics for children like Tristian, and video editing programs and instruction, which many kids have asked for. We know this approach works. (See Murlisa’s Story for a first-person account that shows why.)

Although you won’t find kids asking for it, another thing Redfern desperately needs is social workers. The trauma of seeing friends, loved ones, neighbors dead on the street is traumatic and affects these kids in ways that may not be apparent. It causes people to never really get attached, because the person you get attached to might not be there tomorrow. To anticipate loss and minimize the feelings that come with that loss can cause our kids to devalue themselves and others, when they each are so full of potential and possibilities.

Imagine if kids and their families had a place where they could get professional help to deal with these issues; and if that same place offered a safe haven where they could connect with others, explore their strengths, and begin to believe in tomorrow. Redfern is becoming that place, more and more every day, but we need your help; together, we can make Redfern a place to which our youth are proud and excited to go, where they can begin to realize their dreams.

I hope you will join us in this campaign!

P.S. Please give today. We can begin purchasing the things Redfern needs right away, and so many children are counting on you. Thank you for your support!


Traci Donnelly
Chief Executive Officer
The Child Center of NY

Please see this message from Redfern Director Lakia Echols


Provides 16 weeks of individual therapy by a licensed social worker for a child touched by violence.


Replaces a badly torn safety cushion, like the one pictured above.


Purchases The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Laboratory: Build, Program, and Experiment with Five Wicked Cool Robots.

Donate Now

Descriptions of impact are symbolic. Your gift will be considered a contribution to the entire mission of Redfern and will be used to purchase goods, staffing, or services at Redfern Cornerstone Community Center.

Statement by Child Center Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Community Engagement Deep Ghosh on the Deaths of Youssef Soliman and Trevor Rhudd

On behalf of everyone at The Child Center of NY, I want to express my profound sadness
and sympathy on the deaths of Youssef Soliman and Trevor “Bubba” Rhudd — both of
whom were killed needlessly and taken from us much too soon.

Both boys were known to us as local youth who come in to play or hang out at our Community
Centers. We aspired to be a safe place for these boys, and for all the youth of the
community — a place where they could explore their strengths, make friends, and believe
in and work toward a future defined by endless possibilities. When this type of trauma
emerges, those of us living in day-to-day service of the youth and families are all left in
pain and sorrow, trying to make sense of it. It is impossible not to wonder what we could’ve
done differently or more to attract youth away from the evils that exist in our community.
What we can do going forward is renew our commitment to the children who need a safe
and positive place more than ever.

The staff of The Child Center, who are living and feeling the great stress and sorrow of
these senseless murders, know that what is happening is unacceptable. All layers of the
organization, from our CEO to our staff on the frontlines in the Rockaways, are searching for
ways to end the war on the streets. We call out to all who wish to join us in this fight to win
back the streets and minds of the young brothers and sisters in the Rockaways.

There is promise in all of our youth, and both were just starting to find themselves. At our
Centers, staff are willing to listen and explore all options to ending this violence. We invite
anyone with ideas or the desire to join us in an effort to end this violence to reach out to

To the families of these young boys, we send our deepest sympathies. While we know
that nothing can ease the grief you are feeling, we hope you can take some comfort in
your good memories of your sons, and in the knowledge that so many people cared about
them and will miss them, and hopefully will go on to do good in their memory.

Dreams Revisited

The Child Center of NY Celebrates Anniversary of “Dreams Take Flight” Initiative

A year ago, The Child Center of NY launched “Dreams Take Flight,” a public awareness campaign to encourage kids and adults to let their dreams soar — literally!

The initiative was introduced to create awareness of The Child Center’s multifaceted, innovative work by taking what some might consider a mere time-passing activity — making a paper airplane — and turning it into a learning and sharing opportunity. Continue reading

Meet Our First Vivian E. Cook Scholarship Honoree!

Q&A with Latoya Mann, graduate of August Martin High School

Scholarship recipient Latoya Mann with Assemblywoman Vivian Cook

At The Child Center of NY, one of our firmest beliefs is that intelligence and drive are evenly distributed among zip codes. Unfortunately, opportunity isn’t always. That’s why we’ve been hard at work at August Martin High School, in one of the most underserved communities in the city. In the past few years, we’ve helped increase the graduation rate by nearly 40 percent — from just 24 percent to more than 60 percent — and are ensuring promising students not only can see themselves at college, but also can overcome the practical hurdles (like the steep price tag) to getting there. Continue reading

Three Ways Schools Can Counter the Rise in Teen Suicide

And an Offer to Help Schools Implement One of Them

Just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month, CNN reported last weekend on an alarming rise in children hospitalized with suicidal thoughts or actions. To those of us in the mental health field, the news was troubling and disheartening, but not surprising. At The Child Center of NY, which has been providing mental health services to children and families for more than 60 years, we’ve seen the increase firsthand across our clinics and other behavioral health programs. Thankfully, we’ve also seen what works to counter it: more mental health services in the place where kids spend most of their day — their schools — offered early, and on every level. Continue reading

History in the Making

Basie Beacon M.S. 72 Celebrates Black History Month

“History in the Making: The Soul of the Youth” lit up the stage at The Child Center of NY’s Beacon program at Catherine & Count Basie Middle School 72 on Friday, February 3, kicking off Black History Month with a diverse array of performances and readings by students of all ages. Jaylin, who served as the student emcee for the evening, announced quietly before making his way to the front to introduce the first act:  “I’m scared.”  But the middle-schooler seemed far from frightened as the evening went on, offering casual and astute commentary after each performance. Continue reading

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