News12

Closing out National Adoption Month, News 12 in The Bronx recently featured Janina MacLean and her story of becoming a foster mother – and later adopting – two siblings with The Foundling.

Watch the video at News 12.

Be a Hero

Every year, The Foundling partners with 30,000 children, adults, and families as they strive to create transformational change in their own lives –this year, our neighbors need your help more than ever. Our New York and Puerto Rico communities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. But through hardships and uncertainty, The Foundling has represented a source of strength and hope.

With help from our generous supporters we responded directly to new community needs, allowing those we serve to persevere and stand tall. But our work is not over. As new COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our community, we have a long road ahead. This Giving Tuesday, you can be a hero for our neighbors, and help them continue to move forward and work to keep themselves and their families safe. The time to act is now.

Rodney

Rodney, a participant in Camp Felix and our Developmental Disabilities Community Habilitation program.

Make a donation today. Your gift will bring immediate support to people like Rodney, who has blossomed thanks to the partnership of his Community Habilitation therapist and his Camp Felix counselors, despite the immense challenges faced by children with developmental disabilities during the pandemic.

Your gift of:

  • $25 provides PPE for five children, adults, and families in our programs
  • $100 provides a full day of Camp Felix fun for a young person
  • $500 provides one month of weekly skills training and therapy for a person with a developmental disability
DID YOU KNOW: This year’s CARES Act makes a new charitable deduction available to taxpayers that do not itemize their deductions. Taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions may be able to deduct up to $300 for cash contributions.*

*Please consult your accountant or financial advisor to learn more about the CARES Act and your eligibility.

Amazon SmileP.S. Interested in other ways to support The Foundling? Visit AmazonSmile and choose The New York Foundling as your AmazonSmile charity. The Foundling will receive a portion of every dollar you spend – a simple way to give back as you shop online, at no cost to you!

Chef Bailey

By Chef Mark Bailey

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s a time when family and friends gather to continue old traditions, start new ones, and create memories that will last a lifetime. It’s a day filled with love, warmth and gratitude. Growing up as one of the youngest in my family, I didn’t get to see my older siblings a lot, because they were fairly independent and often out and about doing their own thing. Thanksgiving was the one day where we all stayed at home – watching the Macy’s parade while prepping the family feast together. Those cherished, warm memories from my youth inspire me today—that food and love go hand-in-hand.

When we cook together and for one another, we’re doing so much more than sharing a meal: we’re sharing a bit of our hearts.

Even though Thanksgiving this year is going to be very different—with smaller tables and more Zoom calls—we can still find creative ways to stay connected to our loved ones even when we are miles apart. After leading a cooking demonstration for The New York Foundling’s Fall Fete, I’ve heard much about the special ways The Foundling is celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

In The Foundling’s Mother and Child Program, staff and young moms will prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal, bringing together their own customs and cultural dishes. It’s also an opportunity for young mothers to create special traditions with their children that can last a lifetime. The same is true in The Foundling’s residences for people with developmental disabilities. Here, Direct Support Professionals and the men and women in Foundling homes will prepare feasts to enjoy together.

And as a chef writing about Thanksgiving, I would be remiss if I didn’t share a recipe!

You’ve got to try Sausage Pasta with Pumpkin Parmesan Sauce (recipe below)! I love this dish because it’s the season for all things pumpkin, it’s the perfect comfort food, and it’s quick and easy to make! While your turkey is in the oven, you can whip up this dish in under 45 minutes.

No matter how we all celebrate Thanksgiving this year, or what food you prepare, let’s be thankful for the community around us. Even if we can’t be together in-person, our hearts can still bring us together around the table.


Sausage Pasta with Pumpkin Parmesan Sauce

Pumpkin Pasta

Ingredients
  • I pkg. bowtie pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 6-8 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup hot water or pasta water
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
Garnish
  • chopped parsley
  • grated parmesan
  • red pepper flakes
Cooking Equipment
  • Pasta Pot
  • Pasta Strainer
  • Cooking Utensils (Spoon, Knives)
  • Zester (optional)
Directions
  1. Cook pasta per box instructions until al dente. Reserve 2 cups pasta water.  Drain pasta, rinse with cool water and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned.   Transfer sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Return pot to heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add shallots and garlic.  Stir until onions become translucent and garlic fragrant.  Add pumpkin puree, half and half, parmesan and 1 cup pasta water.  Stir sauce while simmering until thickened (approximately 4-5 minutes).
  4. Add pasta and sausage to sauce and toss until well mixed. Season with salt to taste.  Add additional pasta water if sauce is too thick.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve warm garnished with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and/or parsley.

In the New York Times’ recent feature – which explores the effects of pandemic-induced isolation on the mental health of teenagers – Nandini Ahuja, a therapist in our School Based Mental Heath program, shares some of the coping strategies she has shared in her work.

Read more at New York Times

 

This year’s virtual Fall Fete honored our community of heroes—the children, adults, and families who weathered the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic and are paving their way forward towards achieving their personal goals. Special celebrations spanned the month of October with three mini events leading up to our large virtual gala held on October 27, and totaled nearly 1,000 views across all four events!

Our mini events provided an inside look at the work being done by The Foundling and celebrated our courageous community as they found strength and resilience amid the challenges they’ve experienced this year. The Foundling’s Legacy of Adoption paid tribute to those who helped create our longstanding legacy; Cooking With Mark Bailey provided guests with an exclusive cooking program and taught viewers how to prepare a delicious seasonal dish of sausage pasta with pumpkin parmesan sauce; and our Fireside Chat provided a meaningful conversation about this past year between Foundling President and CEO Bill Baccaglini, ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell and other special guests.

Our Fall Fete grand celebration was hosted by author and NY1 news anchor Cheryl Wills, who shared messages of perseverance, strength, and the importance of The Foundling’s work across the community. Among out featured stories, viewers were inspired by Rodney, a teenager in our Developmental Disabilities program and his eagerness and energy to participate in Camp Felix at Home.

And our guests met Denisha, a young woman in our supportive housing program who shared these words when reflecting on what it meant to finally find her own apartment and a dream job as a teacher:

“I don’t want being a foster child to define me. I want to define what it means to be in foster care. That this is not it. Things will get better if you trust your goal.”

Others who found ways to stand strong through the pandemic included Gianni, who faced homelessness and wasn’t sure he’d be able to continue plans to stay in school. Gianni remarked:

“The Foundling saved my life. I have a stable place to call home and now see myself going to a four-year college.”

The evening included a performance by Haven Kids Rock and the night was made extra special through video messages from Michael Conforto of the New York Mets, Judge Michael Corriero, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, Prom Series co-founders Cabernet Burns and Tori Murphy, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan of Catholic Charities, and more.

Thank you to our generous supporters and our Fall Fete Host Committee! In total, we received nearly $550,000 that will support The Foundling’s vital programs and services. These funds will go directly to uplifting our heroes and supporting the tremendous work they do each and every day.

To watch any of the events from Fall Fete, please click on the links below.

The Foundling’s Legacy of Adoption

Fireside Chat with Bill Baccaglini

Cooking With Mark Bailey

Fall Fete

At The Foundling, we see education as the pathway to independence. Our programs lay the groundwork for healthy development, wellbeing, and self-determination by teaching critical life and learning skills. We know that education is much more than what happens in a classroom, and includes families learning to communicate effectively, children navigating life challenges without strong family support systems, and young adults relearning habits to change the trajectory of their lives. This is especially true today, nearly eight months since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The 2020-2021 school year will undoubtedly present unique challenges for students and their families and caregivers—but for those involved in the child welfare system, they will have to overcome even larger hurdles and obstacles. That’s why The Foundling is doubling down on efforts to provide educational programming and support services to hundreds of students across our community.

Read our roundtable conversation with Foundling staff and expert leaders from our organization who work closely with students, families, tutors, mentors, and teachers—and you’ll hear firsthand how the school year is going so far.

PARTICIPANTS
Clarisse Miller

The Foundling’s Fostering College Success Initiative

 

Jessica Nauiokas

Head of School, Mott Haven Academy Charter School

 

Joni Rivera

Road to Success, Road to Success Citywide, and Afterschool Allies at The Foundling

Elizabeth Tremblay

School Based Mental Health at The Foundling

 

Michelle Watsula

School Based Mental Health at The Foundling

 


How are students faring with their return to school?

Jessica: Our students love coming to school, so we are cognizant of how learning remotely impacts them emotionally and mentally. Creating a structured routine and predictable schedule has really helped. School is in session using Google Classrooms from 8:00am-2:00pm and students interact with their classroom community virtually and complete pre-recorded activities throughout the day. They have blocks of time where they are encouraged to take breaks and get their bodies moving!

Michelle: Students are happy to be back at school and to have the ability to see their teachers and friends. Some students are disappointed with the low turnout of other students returning for in-person instruction—they miss the “normal times” from last year. And the student who are fully remote are sad that they aren’t blended, but their parents opted for remote learning due to having other people in their home who are immunocompromised.

How do you keep teachers, staff, students, and parents motivated each day?

Jessica: We plan virtual classes, assignments, events, gatherings, and meetings with a single question in mind: How do we uplift everyone and bring joy to the learning experience? We also hold monthly student celebration community meetings, weekly staff circles, and weekly “Coffee Hours” for families. Our team also makes surprise ‘cookie and treat’ deliveries to families!

How are students staying connected and maintaining friendships this semester?

Clarisse: We’ve increased the number of workshops we do so that students are interacting more with us and each other. Students are staying in touch with their friends through phone calls, video chats, social media, and interactive video games. Some make time to hang out or form study groups—which is really nice to see take shape. Kids need these social touch points to stay connected and to maintain friendships, and they’re doing a great job so far!

Michelle and Elizabeth: Some students are able to spend time with peers who live in their direct neighborhood, but many are feeling isolated and frustrated with the lack of social interaction. In some of our high schools where we provide therapy to students, we’ve seen freshmen feeling socially disconnected and struggling to make new friends because they’re not physically in school. We’re making the most of tech tools like Google Classroom to run interactive events and workshops that help new students meet classmates. We want to give them every opportunity possible to make new friends and feel connected. In recent weeks, we’ve seen some great participation and success.

How are your teams adjusting to working remotely?

Michelle: They have been creative in engaging students, families, and faculty through virtual workshops. In October we began re-entering NYC schools, and are now using a hybrid of in-person and telehealth services—whatever each individual school needs is what we deliver.

Joni: Our tutors have been extremely innovative! They’re using a multitude of technological tools and platforms to match the different learning styles of our students, like giving styli to students who learn best when they can write and draw on their tablet screens. We’ve created remote learning tip sheets, supplied links to additional online learning resources, and developed a training program on remote learning best practices.

What challenges are you facing—and what do solutions look like?

Joni: Given the changing academic landscape, some of our goals related to college access have shifted. Standardized tests like the New York State Regents exams and SAT/ACTs are largely cancelled, so we have been working with students to instead boost their math and English language grades in order to demonstrate college readiness without standardized tests. At the same time, we’ve been adapting to support 9th grade students entering high school. Research has demonstrated that this time of transition is of particular importance in predicting graduation rates, so we’re prioritizing support for these students to ensure they don’t fall off track with remote learning.

Elizabeth: It’s hard to get know new students when our team has not been able to meet them in person. We’re trying to balance addressing each student’s learning needs and their social emotional needs. We can’t ignore the stressors caused by the pandemic, but we also don’t want students to fall behind in their classes. Collectively, students have shown to be incredibly resilient and strong, and eager to make their new routines work in the most successful ways possible!

Desiree and Nancy

The Bronx Times highlighted two participants in our Developmental Disabilities program, and their experiences throughout the pandemic:

“The New York Foundling, one of the city’s oldest social services organizations, provides health care, social-emotional support, entertainment and friendship for hundreds of adults, most of whom live in their group homes full time.

Desiree and Nancy, 37, two residents of The Foundling’s Laconia residence in the Bronx, have been friends for 25 years. They leaned on each other to get through the newly enforced safety measures and had to learn to remain patient as both became unemployed.:

Read more at Bronx Times

Jardy Santana

The New York Times recently profiled one of our teachers at Haven Academy:

“Jardy Santana, 34, teaches English at Mott Haven Academy Charter School, a school predominantly serving families involved in the child welfare system in the Bronx, which is run in partnership with the New York Foundling. She has been teaching for 12 years, including 10 at Mott Haven, and this year has been her hardest.

For her, the onset of remote learning last spring brought a weighty realization: Each student has very different needs in the virtual classroom.”

Read more at The New York Times


This article was also featured in three additional media outlets:

The most recent installment of The New York Times’ Neediest Cases profiles Denisha, a participant in our Supportive Housing program. She had a turbulent home life growing up, and spent much of her adolescence in the foster care system. Her love of school, however, was always a constant. With The Foundling’s support, Denisha has been able to continue her academic journey and now, as a teacher, is inspiring others.

Read more at The New York Times.

Each September, cities and states across the country recognize and pay tribute to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Month. It’s a time when there’s greater attention and focus on members of this community, a celebration of their cultural norms and traditions, and a deeper understanding of how they communicate with one another.

For nearly 40 years, The New York Foundling has been one of the only specialized providers of family support and prevention programs for New York City’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Members of our staff who work with Deaf or Hard of Hearing children and adults are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), and in many cases, are also Deaf or Hard of Hearing themselves. The services we provide at The Foundling improve family relationships and dynamics, empower each person to be more independent and expressive in what they need to grow stronger, and help families and individuals advocate for services and support.

There’s a strong sense of community and belonging among those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. A unique aspect of their culture is the tradition of giving someone a personal “name sign” instead of fingerspelling out the person’s name.

“A name sign can only be given by a Deaf person, or member of the Deaf community, and typically is meant to be representative of something specific about the individual,” says Anna Poiarkoff, Clinical Model Accessibility Coordinator for Deaf Services at The Foundling. In the video below, Anna shares the poignant story of how she received her name sign. We hope you’ll watch and be inspired to learn more about Deaf culture.


For more information on The Foundling’s Deaf Services, check out our program page and our recent blog post: Our Work Continues: Supporting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Families with Communication and Advocacy.