fbpx

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

 

When actress Sandra Bullock revealed in People Magazine that she adopted her second child from foster care, it was not only a demonstration of her love and support for that child, but a reminder to the rest of us about the more than 100,000 children in the United States who are hoping someday to be adopted. Our society has made great strides toward moving children from congregate care settings into foster homes and ultimately into adopted homes, but there is much more that needs to be done.

 

To begin with, there is a tremendous need for more families to open their homes to foster children. These children need loving foster parents to care for them either for a transitional period or longer-term. In some cases, these children have been through a lot. Many have experienced some form of trauma at a very young age. Especially now, at holiday time, we should remember that for some youngsters, a safe and stable home to live in may be the most precious gift they can hope for.

 

As with most gifts, those who give also receive. Foster parents continually tell us what a blessing these children are and how spiritually rewarding it is to be able to bring them into their homes. In fact, through the New York Foundling’s foster care program, we’ve seen many foster parents taking in multiple children over time as they recognize the joy that flows through their homes with each new addition.

Even with the help of these wonderful foster families – and we certainly need more of them – we still need to do more. Some children are in foster care temporarily and are eventually able to return to their biological parents. But there are many for whom that is not an option. For some, they move from foster home to foster home, from school to school, from neighborhood to neighborhood – never sure how long they’re going to be in one place.

 

That’s why Sandra Bullock’s spotlight on this issue is so important, and coverage like the TODAY Show will help us continue the discussion. No matter how caring and devoted foster parents may be, adoption provides a unique type of gift. When a foster parent adopts a child, they are letting that child know they are part of a permanent family – for the rest of their lives.

 

Toniann Gelardo and her daughter, seven-year-old Shay Anabelle Gelardo, a Staten Island family featured in the TODAY Show’s coverage, made their family official after two years of fostering. “It is the most amazing feeling in the world,” says Ms. Gelardo. “The greatest accomplishment in my lifetime.”

 

Foster families will say that making their loving family permanent through adoption provides them as many rewards as it provides to their child. Giving a child stability and love – reading bedtime stories, tucking them into bed, cheering them on at sporting events or praising good grades – showing love in ways large and small – means everything. Adoption makes those moments permanent, can drive away fear, conquer uncertainty and help children recover from the trauma of their young lives. It lets them know they have a home.

Flamingo New York visited 3rd and 4th grade students at Mott Haven Academy in The Bronx last month and took them on an exciting field trip to THE POINT, a community development corporation dedicated to children. 

 

Haven ‘scholars’ had access to all the essential Arts & Crafts supplies any kid could ask for, and spent the afternoon drawing, painting and crafting with volunteers and staff from Flamingo New York.

 

Haven Academy Scholars.

Haven Academy Scholars.

 

Flamingo’s social purpose is cultural enrichment which is why they wanted to immerse Haven scholars into the thriving community culture THE POINT offers. THE POINT is dedicated to youth development, and cultural and economic revitalization of The Bronx, encouraging the celebration of life and art in the community, specifically in areas traditionally troubled by poverty and crime.

 

Established in 2008, Haven Academy serves 290 scholars in grades K-5 and 36 pre-kindergarten students. The school empowers children in an educational environment that addresses and reduces the barriers to academic success through the integration of family support services with a rigorous academic program. Graduates will be resilient, resourceful, independent scholars who have the skills necessary to reach their full potential and to build a better future.

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

.

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.