I started with The Child Center of NY Parsons Beacon as a participant at the age of 11, in 1999. I knew about the program because my older brother attended Parsons Junior High School and was enrolled in the program.
I attended Parsons Junior High School from September 1999 until June 2002. I also continued to be a participant and was able to be involved in many things. Because of the willingness of Deepmalya (the program director at the time) to create a relationship with my very strict mother, I was able to partake in talent shows where I danced with groups of friends.
I was a part of the Parsons Beacon step team, and we were afforded the opportunity to travel the tri-state area and perform in competitions and showcases. We also were invited to step at Deep’s wedding! I had the honor of being a part of the first TIPP group (Teen Impact Prevention Program) ever, which was led by Amanda Etienne at the time. We were a group of preteens/teens who went out to high schools and teen conferences to put on skits and hold town hall discussions regarding HIV/AIDS and STD prevention. I was a part of this for several years, and it overlapped with my official hire as SYEP [Summer Youth Employment Program] in 2004.
I worked as a junior group leader at Basie Beacon M.S. 72 which led to me wearing several hats at that site for about five years. I made ID cards for new applicants and made replacements for those who have lost their ID card; helped with office tasks; took on the roles of senior group leader, recreational coordinator (orchestrated the tournaments, sign in, and set up of gym and activities), and basketball coach for our middle school boys’ team; and was still involved with TIPP.
Around 2008, I began to work at P.S. 223 OST [Out-of-School Time] as a group leader. The following year, I requested to become a specialist (Step specialist), where I had to demo a lesson and articulate why the participants of P.S. 223 would benefit.
I was a step specialist with them for the next three years and ran a video journalism club in 2011. I then left P.S. 223 and the organization in December 2012 to pursue other opportunities within the filed of Youth Development. In 2017 I applied for a program director position and I came back “home” to The Child Center in February of 2018.
I always tell everyone I was raised by afterschool programs and this is why. This organization has supported my growth from a preteen into adulthood.
If it wasn’t for Deep and his determination to keep me in the program during those times my mom wanted to take me out, I would have not learned my true passion in life, which is helping inner-city youth like me experience things I would have never been able to experience outside of the program.