Posts Tagged ‘community center’

President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, a Mantra Here at Catholic Charities

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

High unemployment rates.  High incarceration rates.  Worst of all, sky-high murder rates among black men gunned down in their youth.

President Obama takes on these key issues in his just-announced “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, issues long-tackled by Catholic Charities.

This past month, for example, Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem held its third annual Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. basketball tournament.  Run during the February schools break, it provided recreation during the winter recess to keep teens off the streets and inside a supportive environment.

Manhattan District attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (son of former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance. Sr).  presented trophies and ribbon medals to the team members who are residents of Juvenal Justice System Homes. Each home comprised one team.

A special five-foot trophy was given to the one player who exhibited the best sportsmanship throughout the tournament.

The motto resounding through each of the five days was “Put down the guns, pick up a  ball and recreate. ”

And that’s what they did.  Each day different speakers addressed these youth with testimony and advise about how to survive adverse climates. Speakers included Inspector Rodney Harris, commander of the 32nd precinct, Deacon Rodney Beckford, director of Catholic Charities Community Services Kennedy Center and  numerous officers from NYPD.

Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. (Stop Another Violent Act) that helped sponsor the event was founded by Jackie  Rowe-Adams and fellow mothers who lost sons to gun violence. The group meets and holds events at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center.

“I didn’t have a dad in the house,”  President Obama said when he announced the initiative named after the biblical phrase he often uses to share his belief that society must help those facing challenges.  “I made bad choices…I made excuses, sometimes I sold myself short.”

The time to change the cycle is now, President Obama continued.  His “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative will work with nonprofit agencies, churches and political leaders to fight back against the drum beat of violence and addiction that has plagued too many for too long.

Washington Heights Teens Stage Red Carpet Event with Dominican Flare

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

St. Valentine’s Day took on a Dominican flare for middle school-aged students in Washington Heights last week. Decked out in traditional Dominican costumes, the participants from La Plaza Beacon After-School Program acted out their own version of the 2014 Red Carpet. They also directed, worked as stage hands and videotaped this Oscar-inspired evening.

The night was the second annual event of its kind sponsored by La Plaza Beacon, part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.  During after-school hours, La Plaza Beacon’s school-based community center transforms a local school into a thriving neighborhood center. It provides a safe, supervised place where youth go for recreation, cultural activities, homework help and tutoring.

“Our participants were the center of the event,” La Plaza Beacon Director Leonardo Dominguez said. “We also took advantage of the event to recognize the work done for them in arts and craft, video, sports, technology, music and dance.”

Washington Heights Teens Stage Their Own Red Carpet Event

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Mimicking Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Daddy Yankee and more, middle school-aged students took charge of their first ever “Red Carpet”  in Washington Heights, an Oscar-inspired event held on February 15 by La Plaza Beacon Afterschool Program.   The students – 90 in total – also directed, worked as stage hands and videotaped the program.

La Plaza Beacon is part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.  During after-school hours, La Plaza Beacon’s  school-based community center transforms a local school into a thriving neighborhood center. It provides a safe, supervised place where youth go for recreation, cultural activities, homework help and tutoring.

“The Red Carpet event was magic,” La Plaza Beacon Director Leonardo Dominguez said.  “We gave them technical support and advise; they learned how to put together a huge event like this by themselves.”