By Peter Rizzo, Co-Chair of The New York Foundling Junior Board’s Corporate Engagement Committee

I love Christmas. I love the holidays and this season of giving. For three generations, it has been an extremely important part of my family’s tradition, starting with my grandfather, Thomas Kelly, and his lifelong connection to The New York Foundling. In the late 1930s when he was a young boy, my grandfather and his siblings were dropped off at The Foundling by their mother. She entrusted them into The Foundling’s foster care when she could no longer take care of them herself.

It is this personal connection that led me to join The Foundling’s Junior Board. I help plan The Foundling’s Blue Party each spring, and I have coached youth in the Mentored Internship Program. Simply put, even before I joined the Junior Board, The Foundling has always been a part of my life—especially during the holiday season.

My grandfather was placed in several different foster homes before finding his long-term childhood foster home, where he lived until he joined the U.S. Navy. From there, he went on to make a good life for himself and his family. My grandfather and grandmother married in 1952 and had four children. On Christmas Eve in 1960—as he laid out presents beneath his Christmas tree—he thought of all the children living in foster homes or in homes lacking stability and comfort who would not have any gifts to open the next morning.

After a conversation with my grandmother, he drove into Manhattan that Christmas Eve and delivered presents to The Foundling. My grandfather was a ‘foundling’ himself, and understood what it felt like growing up with certain unanswered questions, so he gave back to the organization that helped him find a home, a family, a bright future, and lifetime of holiday traditions and celebrations.

And each subsequent year, my grandparents continued to send gifts to The Foundling during the holiday season. This quickly became family tradition—donating gifts to The Foundling each December. We have done this every year for as long as I can remember.

What started as an intimate tradition amongst my immediate family has now grown to include friends, friends of friends, and their families, as well. In 2019, my family and I had more than 100 people over for a holiday party and each guest brought at least one gift to give to The Foundling.

It is amazing how much the tradition has come to mean to me, as well as so many other people in my life. Everyone looks forward to this party every year. It is their way of acknowledging how fortunate we all are. Unfortunately, it is the first time since 1960 that the party will be cancelled. However, my family and friends were still able to donate gifts through Amazon to ensure the children and families of The Foundling were not forgotten. I look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come!

Happy Holidays!

Orphan Train

From 1854 to 1929, 250,000 abandoned or orphaned children in East Coast cities found themselves on journeys across the country. Shepherded by private organizations like the New York Foundling or the Children’s Aid Society, these orphans were resettled with families who promised to give them shelter, an education, and a place to grow up. It was an ambitious, unprecedented undertaking. It was the predecessor to our country’s modern foster care system. The experiment became known as The Orphan Train movement.

A desperate solution to a desperate problem, some of the stories turned out well and some far from well.

Listen to the podcast and learn more at Mobituaries. 

Guest Post by Sister Carol Barnes

Nun and Baby

150 years ago today, on October 11th, three Sisters of Charity moved into a brownstone on East 12th Street in Manhattan in order to provide a safe haven for infants who were being abandoned during those difficult days. Initially, the Sisters expected to have 2 or 3 months to prepare their home for this purpose but within 24 hours, a faint cry alerted them to the fact that a new born girl, Sarah H., had been had been placed on their doorstep.

The community grew quickly, not just with children (126 babies were placed with the Sisters by the end of 1869), but also with wet nurses who provided nourishment for the children.

Sr. Mary Irene Fitzgibbon

To meet the needs of the growing community, the Sisters acquired the 68th Street property which provided adequate space for the new programs which evolved: St. Anne’s Maternity Hospital, St. John’s Pediatric Hospital and St. Mary’s Maternity Residence for single pregnant women. In addition, two hospitals for tuberculosis patients, both children and adults, were opened in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. All of this was accomplished under the direction of Sr. Mary Irene Fitzgibbon, the Foundling’s first administrator, in the course of the first 25 years of its existence.

Boy with Stuffed AnimalToday, The Foundling continues to expand, and in the spirit of the early sisters, responds to emerging needs, developing new ways of having a positive impact on the lives of children, youth, adults, families and communities.

Throughout these 150 years, the Sisters of Charity have continued to guard The Foundling’s Mission; currently, the Sisters of Charity Ministry Network carries out this critical responsibility through the exercise of its reserved powers.

As a representative of the Sisters of Charity, I am privileged to work with our incredible staff as we strive to integrate Mission into every aspect of The Foundling.


Learn more about The Foundling’s history:

The New York Foundling Book

The Foundling: The Story of The New York Foundling traces the legacy of our organization – from its founding in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity through the turn of the 21st century. Written by award-winning New York Times editor Martin Gottlieb with contemporary photography by renowned photographer Claire Yaffa, The Foundling provides an engrossing historical overview of our extraordinary organization.

Originally published to a limited run in 2001, the book has now been reprinted and updated for our 150th anniversary!

This updated edition includes all new photographs from Ms. Yaffa, a special message from Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO of The Foundling, and an additional chapter that continues our history through 2019.

Get your copy for a total of $60, including shipping and handling, by completing the order form below:

Sister Carol Barnes on Current News

“The Foundling — one of New York City’s largest and oldest child welfare and social services organizations — is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. It all began with one baby.”

Watch the news report and read more at Net TV.

Metrofocus

“A major milestone for one of our city’s oldest and most important institutions. Find out how the New York Foundling is still helping children 150 years after it was founded.”

Watch the video, which includes an interview with our President & CEO Bill Baccaglini, at Metrofocus here.

Sister Carol Barnes

“The Foundling — one of New York City’s largest and oldest child welfare and social services organizations — is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

It all began with one baby…”

Read more at The Tablet here.