The Foundling offers dynamic, progressive and evidence-based services and programs to 30,000 children and families each year. What makes our programs so unique and successful are our dedicated and committed employees and staff. Get to know the people inside our organization by reading our blog each week as we highlight a new staff member.  We’ll ask questions about their role at The Foundling, what their passions and hobbies are outside of the office, and recognize their achievements and accomplishments.

 

 

What are your major responsibilities at The Foundling?

My two major responsibilities at The Foundling are ensuring that all of our compliance requirements are met while on-boarding employees and overseeing employee relations for the Human Resources department. It is the area of my work where I can create solutions that can have a positive impact.

 

 

What inspires you most about working at The Foundling?

The team that I work with is my biggest source of inspiration. I strive to impart all the knowledge that I have and really enjoy us improving as a department.

 

 

What has driven you to be where you are today?

I have a commitment to excel at everything that I do and I get satisfaction from doing my best. Continually having a sense of accomplishment in all tasks—no matter the size is extremely important to me.

 

 

Who is your role model and what do you admire about them?

I don’t have a particular role model but there are a lot of people that I admire. The common quality that these people have would be compassion.

 

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Morocco would be my destination of choice because of the film Casablanca.

 

 

Tell us about the latest book you’re reading, or recently read?

I am currently reading “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.

 

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

According to my roomie, Laurie, I am a tiger because I am “no holds barred.”

 

 

State a fun fact about yourself.

I am a proud member of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

 

 

Want to learn about other Foundling staff? You can meet some of our other employees on TheMuse.com.

My first few weeks at Spelman College were action packed and truly amazing. I was terrified of being 900 miles from home, yet it all worked out in my favor. The first ten days of my Spelman experience consisted of orientation activities: we weren’t apart of the Spelman family just yet—we had to learn the chants, the history, and what it actually means to be a Spelman woman.  At the end of those ten long days, we were inducted in to the 134th class of Spelman College!

 

This opportunity could not have been possible without the New York Foundling. They provided me with an amazing tutor through the Road to Success tutoring program who ensured I received the grades necessary to attend Spelman. Rachel (my tutor) helped read and reread, as well as edit and reedit my personal statement when I was applying to college. I couldn’t have done this without her support and encouragement.

 

The Foundling helped me achieve my goal of attending my dream school. Although it’s only the first semester of my freshmen year, I absolutely love it here. It feels like home, I’ve made wonderful friends and I genuinely enjoy my classes.

Today is #GivingTuesday, a worldwide celebration of generosity and telling others what causes and organizations matter to YOU!

 

The Foundling has a long history (146 years) of giving back to the community and helping children, families and individuals. Whether it’s placing a child into an adoptive home or ensuring that a struggling student doesn’t give up on themselves, The Foundling offers help where it is needed the most.

 

As The Foundling’s annual appeal video series continues, we invite you to meet Tajuana, a foster parent to her younger cousins with special needs. Please click on the image below to watch this short video.

 

 

Join The Foundling Family this #GivingTuesday and be a part of an organization that has been transforming lives every day since our founding in 1869.

 

 

Spread the news that you donated to @TheNYFoundling this #GivingTuesday with an announcement on your favorite social media page!

The Foundling offers dynamic and progressive services and programs to 30,000 children and families each year, but what makes each of our programs so unique and successful are our employees and staff.  Everyone who works at The Foundling is motivated, passionate, caring, creative, strong and goal-oriented.

 

Get to know the people inside our organization by reading our blog each week as we highlight a new staff member.  We’ll ask them questions about their role at The Foundling, what their passions and hobbies are outside of the office, and recognize their achievements and accomplishments.

 

What are your major responsibilities?

My major role is to provide administrative support to the Developmental Disabilities Division and our new program FOCUS-NICH which uses an Evidence Based model. Essentially, I am a part of two worlds here at the Foundling. I work directly with Jill Gentile our Senior Vice President in ensuring that our programs have everything they need to be successful day to day. I also work with the Evidence Based administrative staff to help bridge the gap between the two worlds.

 

How does your department help the people and communities we serve?

The Foundlings’ Developmental Disabilities Division provides respite, resources and supports to people with developmental disabilities. Our goal is to help them to live as independently as possible at home and in their communities. Our staff works with individuals by identifying their strengths and developing their personal goals to fulfill their dreams.

 

What has driven you to be where you are today?

I’ve always wanted to work for a nonprofit because I love helping those that are in need. Although I do not work directly with the individual, I can say that because of the success I bring to my programs we are connected in some way.

 

What inspires you most about working at The Foundling?

I loved the spirit that The New York Foundling has on reaching out to the community, lending a hand where needed and always looking for ways to connect to those who need us most.

 

Who is your role model?

I believe my mother is my biggest role model. She is the only person that knows me better than myself. She pushes me beyond my limits and without her I would not be here today.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

 I am a huge fan of pasta…so possibly Italy to taste the real deal.

 

Tell us about the latest book you’re reading?

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I find that I always have to read the series over and over again so that I always feel enrolled in Hogwarts.

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

I would say I am a deer. I am highly sensitive and have a strong intuition. I have the power to gracefully deal with challenges and I master the art of being both determined and gentle in my approach. I compare my ability to be vigilant, moving quickly and trusting my instincts with this animal.

 

State a fun fact about yourself.

I was a vocal performance major my first two years of school. I was classically trained as a lyric soprano.

 

Want to learn about other Foundling staff? You can meet some of our other employees on TheMuse.com

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This Thursday, The New York Foundling will present Judge Michael A. Corriero with its Lifetime Achievement Award for the work he has done to improve the juvenile justice system and change the course for hundreds of at-risk youth. He will be given the award at The Foundling’s first annual Fall Fête at The NoMad in New York City.

 

We’ve told you why we admire Cat Greenleaf, our Fall Fête emcee, and last week we shared what makes TD Bank so special. Today, we’re pleased to celebrate Judge Corriero and share why The Foundling loves him:

 

1. Judge Corriero was the first in his family to go to college. Then he went on to law school where he graduated at the top of his class.   His parents watched as he was appointed to the bench at the young age of 37.

 

2. No distance is too great for Judge Corriero to travel and share his knowledge, expertise and wisdom on developing juvenile justice programs. Sierra Leone, Australia, Peru, Israel and South Africa are just a few of many countries he has visited throughout his career.

 

3. Judge Corriero is committed to improving outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Hundreds of at-risk youth have been given a second chance thanks to his work. (Read more about The Foundling’s Juvenile Justice Programs here.)

 

4. He served at the request of the former Chief Judge of New York State, Judith Kaye, on the New York State Permanent Commission on Justice for Children. He also served on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Committee on the Judiciary and former Governor David Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice. He has previously served on the New York State Probation Commission Task Force.

 

5. Judge Corriero is a native New Yorker and grew up in Little Italy. Today he cruises the city streets wearing his signature fedora.

 

Hear more from Judge Corriero by clicking play! 

 

By Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO, The New York Foundling 

 

Picture yourself at home for the holidays, the smells of dinner coming from the kitchen, the sound of laughter throughout the house, family members on the sofa watching TV. Perhaps old friends are coming by for a visit – maybe gifts will be exchanged. You’re surrounded by people who love you.

 

Now imagine that none of that exists. Imagine how that would feel. Imagine how that would impact a child.

 

The New York Foundling has placed thousands of children in stable and loving foster homes over our long history. Brett is one of these young people. In foster care for many years, he found it hard to form long-lasting relationships and became weary of trusting adults. As he transitioned into different foster homes, he started to believe that parental-figures never stuck around for long.

 

Then he was placed with Juliana and everything changed. Juliana, who believes that in a family, “you’ve got to be there for each other no matter what,” and that family means “love, caring and support,” was finally able to give Brett the home he always needed. He calls Juliana mom and views her as his one and only mother. He has “aunts” and “uncles” and a family that treasures him as much as he treasures them.

 

Today, at age 20 and in college, Brett feels that family “doesn’t have to be blood. Family is a bond you share with an individual, or many individuals.” “When I was younger,” he says, “when I heard the word family, I used to envy it. Now when I hear the word family, it just brings a smile to my face.”

 

Brett and his foster family have a great deal to be thankful for this holiday season.

 

For those of us who work at the New York Foundling, the holidays are an extraordinary time. We all feel blessed to be able to look at young people like Brett and realize that we’ve made a difference in his life. Whether it involves children in the foster care system, or young people caught up in the juvenile justice system, or families in crisis, The Foundling works every day to make children safe, to keep families together and to give youngsters a better future.

 

But this holiday season, our minds and our hearts turn to the many children who still need our help. Every day, we hear tragic stories of abuse and neglect, of adults with serious issues whose children are suffering. We see young people failing in the educational system and ending up in the criminal justice system – or homeless, or on drugs.

 

As we gather with our own families this holiday season, I hope you will join me in recommitting to doing more to help the many children and families who are not as fortunate as us. 

 

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® will receive The Foundling’s Corporate Citizenship Award at its first annual Fall Fête on November 19.  The event will take place at The NoMad in New York City and Mike Pedersen, President and CEO of TD Bank, will be on site to accept the award.

 

TD Bank has been a supporter of The Foundling for many years. They have taught students at Haven Academy about financial literacy through their WOW!Zone program and will continue to support The Foundling’s educational services to ensure our kids receive the support they need to excel academically. We can’t wait to honor TD Bank at Fall Fête so we decided to share five reasons why we love them on our blog!

 

  • TD Bank has a commitment to education and community-building—they have frequently visited Mott Haven Academy—The Foundling’s charter school for kids involved in the child welfare system.
  • Much like The Foundling, TD Bank believes that every person should have a place to call ‘home.’ In addition to their work in the community and with kids, TD Bank supports programs that provide safe, clean and accessible housing for older adults.
  • They are as ‘green’ as their logo! From paper consumption to their carbon footprint, TD Bank and their employees value the environment and make every effort to keep our air clean and trees green.
  • TD Bank puts their employees first. From helping families adopt to tuition assistance to a wellness program, TD Bank knows that providing good service starts from within.
  • TD Bank grew up with The Foundling! They were founded in 1855 as TD Bank Group. Over the last 150 years, they have grown from a single-branch bank serving grain millers and merchants to a major financial services company.

 

Tickets, digital advertisements and sponsorship packages are still available for Fall Fête and can be purchased here.

The Foundling offers dynamic, progressive and evidence-based services and programs to 30,000 children and families each year. What makes our programs so unique and successful are our dedicated and committed employees and staff. Get to know the people inside our organization by reading our blog each week as we highlight a new staff member.  We’ll ask them questions about their role at The Foundling, what their passions and hobbies are outside of the office, and recognize their achievements and accomplishments.

 

How does your program help the people and communities we serve?

Our goal in foster care is to achieve permanency by having children return to the care of their parents. When that is not possible, kinship guardianship and adoption are the next best possible options. It’s important to put supports in place for the family and children, so hopefully, the children do not return to foster care. We encourage and nurture adolescents in Independent Living by helping them with school, work and housing

 

What are your major responsibilities?

As the Assistant Vice President, I oversee six Clinical Supervisors at two sites (Bronx and North Manhattan) where I provide clinical oversight for the cases of the children and families in our foster care program. I work with teams to assess safety, risks and to facilitate permanency for the children and families in our care. I also work to foster staff development.

 

What I enjoy most about working at The Foundling is the opportunity to be a part of a team that is committed to providing the support and hope that our children and families need during their most vulnerable times. It’s extremely important to keep my staff motivated and to ensure that they have the tools they need to successfully fulfill their roles.

 

How did you become an Assistant Vice President at The Foundling?

I started at the Foundling as an intern with Blue Sky, a Juvenile Justice Initiative program. I worked with youth as a Skills Coach and then an Individual Therapist as part of the TFCO treatment team (TFCO is Treatment Foster Care Oregon; it is an evidence based model of foster care). I also worked as Resource Specialist, identifying and developing relationships with community providers to support our families in receiving needed supports and remaining connected to their communities.  

 

I was then a supervisor with The Foundling’s PINS Division (Persons In Need of Supervision) at its inception and worked directly with youth and their families participating in treatment foster care. I moved into a role with the Implementation Support Center that allowed me to provide support to programs internally and with other New York City agencies implementing evidenced based practices, including the implementation of Youth Development Skills Coaching with our Family Foster Care teams.

 

Given the opportunity to work with the foster care teams directly led me to want to move closer to the direct practice and I was motivated by the hard work and commitment of the teams. I started as a Program Director and moved into the role of Assistant Vice President in 2014.

 

What inspires you most about working at The Foundling?

I am grateful to the New York Foundling as it has built me up professionally, as well as personally. The Foundling has provided me with the opportunity to take on different roles and learn about various programs; I have had the opportunity to learn and grow from strong leaders, and to develop my clinical and leadership skills. The Foundling embraces a strength based approach that supports the children and families we work with, and helps them reach success.

 

Tell us about a case or family that was successful.

A mother and her son were separated when the mother was unable to care for the child because she was mentally ill. The mother worked extremely hard and used Foundling resources to make safety plans and reestablish relationships with family members. It was not an easy road but she committed herself to getting her son back. Recently, the son had his final discharge from Foster Care and is now back with his mother!

 

What makes this case a success is the fact that the mother took small steps toward her goal and did not give up. It’s our job to ensure the safety of the child while recognizing the effort the family makes, meeting them in the middle, and helping them figure it all out to really show them it can all work out. Many of the families are not used to receiving help—they are used to disappointment and roadblocks. But being able to not give up on them is really important. With this type of progress we are able to send a number of children back to their homes and that is a success.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would go back to Florence, Italy. I studied there for a summer during college and loved it! Florence has great food and wine and a very rich culture.

 

Tell us about the latest book you’re reading, or recently read?

I recently read “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who left Newark for the Ivy League” by Jeff Hobbs, who was Robert Peace’s college roommate. It is about a young man, who had a rough childhood with many bad influences, but he and his mother fought to get him into catholic schooling, and eventually he ended up at Yale. But he had trouble balancing the world he came from and the world he came into.

 

What is your spirit animal?

My spirit animal is a butterfly because I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my roles at Foundling and I continue to develop my skills and grow in my position.

 

 

Want to learn about other Foundling staff? You can meet some of our other employees on TheMuse.com.

Written by Foundling Guest Blogger, Stephanie Kearns, Vice President of Business Operations

 

In recognition of National Special Needs Month I’ll be sharing a series of blog postings about special needs and severe allergies with the help of peer parents who live with these fears or challenges every day.

 

Most people don’t know I had an older sister, Audrey, with special needs. She suffered with Cornelia de Lange syndrome at birth and fought to live until she succumbed to cancer and other serious complications at 8 years old. I was only 7. I loved my sister deeply but her presence and challenges were extremely tough for a little kid learning how to fit in and I often didn’t know how to approach people to let them know “it’s OK, she is just a little different!”

 

During her time on earth and after she died, I found myself fighting against stereotypes, going out of my way to talk to friends and strangers who had special needs, and advocating to eradicate the misused word “retarded” from my generation’s vocabulary. Different is intimidating and uncomfortable to most people and everyone has a different response to the idea of different, which can often times be perceived as dismissive and hurtful.

 

I have always found that the best way to respond to this is kindness, empathy, and warmth. In recognition of National Special Needs and National Down Syndrome Awareness Month this blog posting is written with the hope that at least one person will better understand special needs and find a way to connect their child with another child as a friend and equal peer who has special needs.

 

For this next posting, I conducted an interview with Megan Mennes a parent and English teacher and writer. I virtually met Megan after coming across a viral news story and immediately followed her Instagram and blog series, Define Crazy. I love and admire Megan’s open and honest writing, and the way she makes special needs familiar to all walks of life. I also recommend parents connect with Kids Included Together to learn about local opportunities to connect kids with and without special needs for activities in your community.

 

When was your child diagnosed with Down syndrome and how did you discover the diagnosis?

We learned Quinn would be born with Down syndrome when I was 24 weeks pregnant. We took one of the new noninvasive prenatal tests that measures fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream. While the test is not technically diagnostic, it detects Down syndrome pregnancies with 99.8% accuracy. Because the test was so new, part of us felt like it was incorrect; nevertheless, we prepared to have a child with Down syndrome, and we did.

 

What lifestyle changes have you made to adapt to living and raising a child with special needs?

My first instinct was to say that our lifestyle hasn’t changed since having Quinn, but that’s not entirely true. We are lucky enough to live in Houston, Texas, home to the world-renowned Rise School, a preschool for children with developmental disabilities. When Quinn was born, though, we lived on the opposite end of town (in a neighborhood we didn’t like all that much, to be honest). So we moved closer to downtown and, by extension, The Rise School. We love our trendy new neighborhood with its bungalows, coffee shops, and boutiques. We likely wouldn’t have moved here if Quinn didn’t have Down syndrome, so in a way, we actually have that extra chromosome to thank for our current living situation!

 

What are your biggest fears related to this and how do you cope?

My biggest fears for Quinn exist not in his academic success and opportunities. I know the law thanks to my years as a public school teacher and my Master’s degree in Education, and I will wield that knowledge like a sword to ensure that Quinn gets what he needs and deserves academically. But will he have friends? Will the other kids tease him? Will he be the only kid with Down syndrome in his kindergarten class? Will he have dates to the school dances? Be invited to slumber parties? And if he does, will it be out of pity or true friendship? These questions haunt me and keep me up at night.

 

How do you communicate your child’s special needs to your friends, family, other parents and caregivers?

So much of Quinn’s life is spent in the presence of other kids with Down syndrome that this hasn’t really come up yet. When it does, I’ll stress the fact that, when interacting with Quinn, we should presume competence. He is bright, curious, social, and able to do most things that other kids his age can do. It might take him a little longer, but he’ll get it. And if he doesn’t, don’t dismiss him. Work with him until he gets it right.

 

What could you not do that other parents whose children don’t have special needs can do? Nothing! Our life hasn’t changed much since Quinn was born. I still work, he still goes to school, his siblings still get all the attention they deserve, and our lives are so much more “normal” than I ever thought it would be when we received his diagnosis.

 

What kind of support is helpful to you? Do you rely on friends and family for any particular kind of support?

The support of other moms who are raising kids with Down syndrome is invaluable. Not only can they help me understand developmental delays, mysterious medical questions, and Medicaid waivers, but they are also there as a system of support. I’ve met some of my closest friends since having Quinn; the special needs community is like a family and we’re all here to support one another.

 

Tell me an experience you have had, if any, with a difficult friend or family member who didn’t understand how to engage with your child or offer the support you need? How did you help redirect them?

I’ve been immensely fortunate in that our family and friends have been nothing but supportive and have always properly engaged my child. We have had to share the importance of “people-first language,” meaning that we prefer to refer to Quinn as a child with Down syndrome, rather than a “Down syndrome child.” The latter implies that Quinn is defined by his disability. While it is a part of who he is, he is also so much more. But these are lessons I had to teach myself when I began this journey, so I aim to educate and avoid taking offense when someone with good intentions misspeaks.

 

What are the common misconceptions or misunderstandings about children with special needs? Include any inaccurate vocabulary or derogatory words.

My biggest fear with Quinn is that people will see him and automatically judge his abilities before even getting to know him. Just like typically-developing children, individuals with Down syndrome are complex and talented in many different ways. Assuming that he is a “retard,” that he can’t learn, that he won’t understand the feeling of being judged or left out is both ignorant and hurtful.

 

What are the top three ways other parents can embrace differences and shed discomfort with the unfamiliar?

1. Educate yourself. Meet other families raising children with disabilities. If you have questions, ask!

2. Educate others. Be open with your children when they encounter someone who looks, speaks, or acts differently. To avoid this discussion suggests you are ashamed of that person’s differences.

3. Take time to get to know us. Sure, we’re a family raising a child with special needs, but that doesn’t make us alien. Invite us to the birthday party or the play date.

 

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The New York Foundling, its funders, regulators, donors and/or employees.

The Foundling offers dynamic, progressive and evidence-based services and programs to 30,000 children and families each year. What makes our programs so unique and successful are our dedicated and committed employees and staff. Get to know the people inside our organization by reading our blog each week as we highlight a new staff member.  We’ll ask them questions about their role at The Foundling, what their passions and hobbies are outside of the office, and recognize their achievements and accomplishments.

 

What are your major responsibilities?

Being a Strategic Partnerships & Communications Coordinator means I get to wear a lot of different hats, and am able to partake in an abundance of assorted tasks varying from researching/ brainstorming for upcoming events and projects, to interviewing and writing pieces for The Foundling’s Blog, and much, much more.  In any area the Communications Team needs support; I am happily there to help!  I like to make things happen, and in Communications there’s always a new project to start and to carry out—there’s never a dull moment and I truly enjoy the ever changing atmosphere.

 

How does your department help the people and communities we serve?

We help The Foundling community by voicing the importance of our programs and events to the public in creative and informative ways.  We also raise awareness and spread valuable information/protocols within our staff sphere. It is our job to make sure the Foundling’s mission is accessible and well known.

 

What has driven you to be where you are today?

I have been on my own since I was 16 years old, and I have always had a lot of fight in me to better myself and succeed. I have experienced how cruel and unfair the world can be, but I have also been extremely lucky to not be jaded by those events and still be open to life’s adventures and beauty. Every challenge you encounter and every person you meet is a new opportunity to show the world you are a strong, intelligent, and a capable force! Hard work accompanied by a good attitude will always lead you in the right direction. With that stance I have been able to advance from being an intern at the Foundling to a staff member, while also going back to school and making the Dean’s List within one year. I can’t wait to see what the future holds because I’m just starting to rev up! 

 

What inspires you most about working at The Foundling?

What inspires me most about working at The Foundling is that we as a community and institution are able to provide the instruments that enable people to direct and better their own lives. The Foundling offers services that produce hope and gives the flexibility needed to allow change to occur favorably.  When seeking help from the Foundling, one is not alone; in fact you are empowered by a whole group of people who want to help you help yourself, your family, and your community.

 

Who is your role model?

I have never had just one role model! Throughout my life, I have taken aspects of important people within it and I have taken those elements with me. For instance, I admire my Mother for her tenacity, I admire my big brother for his charisma, I admire my husband for his determination—and I don’t know her personally, but  I admire Tina Fey for being hilarious! Between all these people, I have made up some deity form that I hope to be like one day. 

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

One place I have always wanted to travel to is Iceland. I would love to experience the beauty of the Aurora Borealis, take a swim in the hot springs, and look out onto its dynamic landscapes of glaciers and rolling green hills—Oh, and see some icebergs!

 

Tell us about the latest book you’re reading?

I am currently reading “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror” by Judith Herman, MD.  To say the least, it is not a light read, but I enjoy tying my leisurely reading to what I am studying in my school/work life. I find it very beneficial.

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

I see myself as a Gorilla as I am highly sociable, loving, and playful. But I am also incredibly strong and a force to be reckoned with.

 

State a fun fact about yourself.

In my senior year of high school, I was the lead female role in my senior class’s production of the musical “Pippin”.  I had never sung out of the shower before, let alone in front of another human being, so that was quite the experience!

 

Want to learn about other Foundling staff?

You can meet some of our other employees on TheMuse.com.