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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!

Thanksgiving is 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.

 

In the next installment of our video series, you’ll meet a woman named Judy and her son Manuel, age 14, who she recently adopted and hear about Manuel’s very special act of thankfulness.

 

 

We hope you’ll be inspired by Manuel’s act of kindness and contribute to our 2015 annual appeal.

 

The NY Foundling 2015 Annual Appeal Make a Donation

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! 

 

“Family” means different things to different people. We recently asked members of The Foundling community what words they would use to describe family. We invite you to watch this brief video below to see what they said.

 

 

Supporting familiesin their many different formsis just one of the ways The New York Foundling helps empower people to live their best lives. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing success stories from our clients and introducing you to some of the people who make these stories possible. 

 
We encourage you to contribute to our 2015 annual appeal to help us transform even more lives. 

 

The NY Foundling 2015 Annual Appeal Make a Donation

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

 

The generosity of our friends & donors allow us to continue to fulfill our 146-year-old mission of empowering children & families throughout New York & Puerto Rico. Thank you for investing in these efforts with a gift to our annual appeal. Together, we can empower New Yorkers to build their own successful & happy futures. Click the link to make a donation: /donate/

 

 

NY Foundling Halloween PSA

Halloween should be “spooky” in all the fun ways for you and your little ones! Below are some easy tips to keep the fun “creeping” and “crawling,” because when we put safety first, the fun always follows!

 

  • Have a full, healthy meal before Trick-or-Treating, there will be less room to fill up on junk food that way.

 

  • To avoid slips and trips, make sure all costumes are fitted correctly. Masks, gowns, shoes, or capes that are too big or long may hinder your vision or lead to a serious wipe out!

 

  • Carry a flash light, or use reflective tape on costumes so you are visible to cars, cyclists and other Trick-or-Treaters!

 

  • Adults should accompany children and create a safe route. If your child is older, create check-in points for them and their group of friends to build independence while keeping everyone safe. Agree on specific meeting times and locations. No one should be alone on Halloween.

 

  • Only Trick-or-Treat at homes that clearly welcome Trick-or-Treaters. 

 

 

  • Inform your child to be aware of strangers and never follow a stranger into their home or car.

 

  • Go over again with children on how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency or in case they get lost. Make sure children know their home address and know their parent/guardian’s phone number as well.

 

  • Wait until you’re at home to enjoy all the candy you collected. Have an adult inspect each piece to make sure it has no tears in the wrapper and it has not been tampered with. Homemade treats should not be accepted during Trick-or-Treating.

 

  • Don’t forget to brush your teeth after eating sugary candy!

 

Cat Greenleaf is a mom, wife, adoption advocate, exceptionally loyal friend, city dweller, country girl, avid pet collector, real estate dabbler, CEO, and Emmy Award-winning host of Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf.

 

Cat is also the emcee of The Foundling’s first annual Fall Fête coming up on November 19 at The NoMad in New York City!  

 

We love Cat for so many reasons, but here are our top five:

 

1. Cat is an adoptive mother to Primo (age 6) and Truman (age 3). She believes that every child should have a loving and supportive family—and a place to call home. Cat had always planned on adopting children after learning at age 4 that her sister was adopted.

 

2. She lives in New York City—in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and uses her brownstone’s stoop as the backdrop for her television show.

 

3. Cat has four adorable rescue dogs (many of you may recognize Gracie, her English bulldog turned co-host!).

 

4. She created a company called LUST, an acronym for Look Up Stop Texting. The LUST mission is to encourage people to put the phone down, look up, and LIVE.

 

5. Cat is a true role model for women, proving that passion combined with grit and perseverance can lead to success.

 

Don’t miss your chance to meet Cat at The Foundling’s Fall Fête.

 

Tickets, digital advertisements and sponsorship packages are still available 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.