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!
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.
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.