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September: Summer Youth Employment Program

Each year, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park coordinates paid summer opportunities for youth ages 14-24 through the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Youth Employment Program(SYEP). These work opportunities prepare youth for future careers by giving them the tools they need to build essential job readiness skills while earning money for their families and giving back to their community.

We are thrilled that this summer we connected over 1,150 youth to work opportunities, generating over $2,110,000 in earnings for youth and their families. Placed at 67 SYEP worksites in Brooklyn, young people had the opportunity to gain experience and explore careers in many different fields of work.

One of our SYEP partners, Groundswell, tasked SYEP Youth Artists with bringing a specific mission to life through the construction of a public mural. Through the creative process, participants conducted research on the topic of the mural and then shared their unique ideas for the mural’s design with Groundswell teaching artists. Participants then incorporated feedback from community members into the piece and got to work painting alongside one another with the goal of evoking community reflection and social change.

At Sunset Park Older Adult Center, SYEPs assisted the activity coordinator in setting up and facilitating activities for older adults and were later asked to created, plan, and lead their own activity while keeping in mind the physical capabilities and health of their participants. At the Center, SYEPs formed strong intergenerational relationships, obtained leadership skills, and gained valuable experience helping others.

At another worksite, Green-Wood Cemetery, SYEPs participated in a 6-week summer restoration internship where they recovered 31 underground headstones and engaged in gardening practices such as weeding and mulching. SYEPs enjoyed the hands-on experience at this historic site as it allowed them to work in an outdoor space while gaining knowledge of horticulture and accomplishing restoration of more than 90 headstones.

To hear from participants at Green-Wood, click here to watch a clip from PIX11 News.

To celebrate the end of this summer’s program, Maimonides Health held their 2023 Summer Youth Program Recognition Ceremony where our staff member Evelyn Mota, as invited guest speaker, gave a heartfelt and inspiring speech. This event honored CFL as Maimonides’ original and longest SYEP partner (27 years!) and recognized SYEPs at Maimonides who were nominated by the departments within which they worked.

We are so proud of the 3 CFL participants who were among the 15 recipients of Special Recognition Awards and are deeply honored to have our dedicated staff and youth recognized in such a prestigious way.

Thank you to all of the worksites with whom we partnered with this summer and to our wonderful SYEP participants for their incredible work!

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August: Summer Camp in Sunset Park!

This month, our newsletter highlights the action-packed days of our CFLSP summer camp programs. These programs run full day, 5 days a week in July and August and include field trips to museums, pools, parks, and other sites throughout NYC. Our summer camps engage children in consistent group and community-building activities that promote social, physical, academic and artistic development and offer a diverse range of activities that provide opportunities for children to practice and master skills while having fun.

Here are some of this summer’s highlights!

Students took a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where they adventured beyond urban life to explore the garden’s rich vegetation and blossoming flowers. These PS 169 campers pictured on the right expanded their knowledge of plants as they observed different trees and flowers during a scavenger hunt throughout the garden.

Summer campers at PS 94 were busy restoring a garden space which had fallen into disrepair after the pandemic and an extended construction project. STEAM specialist, Margaret Wang, and a group of participants got to work planting sunflowers they grew from seeds, along with flowers, green, and tomato and squash plants. This gardening project taught campers how continuous hard work and patience can transform a space into something beautiful and prosperous.

A highlight of our camp program is our summer Olympics, an annual tradition that excites campers and staff. With the goal of promoting sportsmanship and building community across the program, campers were divided into teams and engaged in healthy competition through water challenges, classic field games, sports, obstacle courses and more.

The summer Olympics at PS 503/506 ended with a team-building feat of strength and perseverance as campers “pulled together” in a friendly tug-of-war.

Campers also had the opportunity to explore their creativity in a variety of media, dance, music, acting, and visual arts. Culminating performances delighted family and community members who were proud of the skill development and stage presence of the large cast of performers.

We are thrilled that this summer we served a total of 1,501 children in our summer camp programming!

In addition, 356 young people gained paid work experience as SYEP camp counselors through the NYC DYCD Summer Youth Employment Program. These talented SYEPs worked alongside our dedicated year-round staff to provide enriching activities for children that built essential skills and contributed to our strong and vibrant community here in Sunset Park.

With love from all of us at Center for Family Life in Sunset Park to everyone who made this a most magical and memorable summer!

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Save the Date for Celebrating Community 2023

We are thrilled to announce that we will be holding our Celebrating Community 2023 event in-person on October 5th from 6-8pm at the Stone Park Cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn!

Please join us in honoring Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP for their dedication to pro bono service in our community and Leroy Street Studio for their work on our neighborhood library project and continued partnership.

We are also excited that at this year’s event, we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Life Lines” Community Arts Project!

You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking the ticket link above.

One of our ESOL classes during their graduation celebration this June!

July: English for Speakers of Other Languages

Our Adult Employment Program at Center for Family Life serves Sunset Park residents as well as those in neighboring Brooklyn communities. Our goal is to prepare for and find full-time work opportunities for the clients we serve, many of whom are among the newest New Yorkers. As so many of our clients are non-English speakers, our Adult Employment Program offers free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, paid for with generous funding provided by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and the New York City Council. These classes give our clients the opportunity to learn English which is useful in so many areas of life in New York City including getting a job, riding public transportation, going to the doctor, visiting their children’s school and more.

In Spring, 2023, CFL held a total of 6 ESOL classes and we are so proud of the accomplishments of the 114 students who received a Certificate of Completion! At graduations held in June we celebrated by recognizing each student’s accomplishments and appreciating all the hard work put in by instructors and staff, all while enjoying delicious food and desserts brought in by students.

This month, we are focusing on the positive impact these classes have on our client’s lives by sharing CFL ESOL instructor reflections on teaching and a student success story.

CFL ESOL Instructor Reflection: Julian Colón

CFL ESOL Instructor Reflection: Julian Colón

CFL ESOL Counselor Reflection: Jessica Garcia

CFL ESOL Counselor Reflection: Jessica Garcia

CFL ESOL Instructor Reflection: Stefan Fernández

“The students’ determination to learn and better their lives through language acquisition has been truly awe-inspiring. We’ve laughed, faced challenges, and celebrated victories together. It’s been heartening to witness how our small classroom evolved into a tight-knit community where diversity was cherished, and every individual’s progress was celebrated. Watching my students grow and flourish over the semester has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my role as an instructor.

The spring semester at the Center has been an unforgettable experience. It has reinforced my love for teaching English as a second language and solidified the belief that education has the power to create lasting, positive change in people’s lives.”

CFL ESOL Student Success Story: Jose E.

Jose is a high school graduate from Honduras who came to the United States in March of 2022. He was in Sunset Park just over a week before coming to the Center to inquire about ESOL classes. Jose worked diligently to refine his language abilities. Since completing the ESOL course here at CFL, he has sought additional services from our Adult Employment Program including help with resume writing, preparing for interviews in English and exploring job opportunities. During the pandemic, Jose accepted a temporary position as a cleaner with the MTA system and when his temporary job ended, he returned to CFL to continue his job search. Jose is now a Resident Advisor at a migrant’s shelter and is planning to enroll in college to continue his education. He says that he is proud and thankful that he can share his experience and knowledge of resources with other immigrants.

Students with their Certificates of Completion at another ESOL class graduation in June!

We are so honored to have the opportunity to help clients learn English to improve their lives here in the United States and we are grateful for all that we learn from our amazing students as they pursue their education. Stories like Jose’s are why we do what we do, and we are so thankful for the support of our donors and grant partners for enabling us to help our clients in this way.

Our school-based staff speakers! From left to right: Taide Acevedo, Stephanie Ruiz, Shanice Peters, Johnny Tapia, and Andy Li

The Extra Mile 2023

On June 7th, we celebrated our incredible school-based staff and leaders-in-training at our annual Extra Mile event! We are so glad that our guests were able to hear the unique experiences of these outstanding young adults and to appreciate their journey along our “ladder of leadership.” 

 

Our Co-Executive Directors Julia Jean-Francois and Julie Stein Brockway with our school-based staff presenters and Councilmember Alexa Aviles, who personally congratulated our staff on behalf of City Council!

Read below to learn about our school-based staff members’ journeys up the ladder!

Taide Acevedo: Taide was born and raised in Sunset Park, starting her journey with CFL as a 5-year-old participant in the afterschool program at

PS 503/506. As a teen, Taide started volunteering her time at PS 503/506 and joined the Counselor-in-Training Program. Later, she graduated from Sunset Park High School, the first public high school in the neighborhood, and climbed just about every rung of leadership in the school-based programs. Taide is now the Program Director at PS 971 and has a MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Andy Li: Andy is a junior at Telecommunications High School. He is a graduate of Sunset Park Prep (M.S. 821), where he participated in the “Life Lines” program for all three years. Andy has been a Leader-in-Training (LIT) since 10th grade and still participates in the Life Lines high school program.

Shanice Peters: Shanice was part of the first graduating class from Sunset Park High School where she spent all four years involved in the Life Lines program by participating in their performing arts troupes. Throughout her time at CFL, she has been a participant, group leader, high school advisor, LIT supervisor, an assistant and director of the Life Lines Summer Arts Camp, and a Program Coordinator for Life Lines. Shanice is now the Program Director at MS 136 and holds a MSW from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.

Stephanie Ruiz: Over the years, Stephanie has climbed up the ladder of leadership in the school-based programs including office aid, assistant group leader, group leader, CIT coordinator, high school advisor, and activity specialist. Stephanie is now the PS 169 Co-Director, has her BSW, and is attending Hunter College to obtain her MSW!

Johnny Tapia: Johnny started CFL in 2015 as a Life Lines group leader. He has also been a high school advisor, LIT supervisor, parent liaison, activity specialist, CIT supervisor, and an AmeriCorps supervisor. This summer, Johnny has been promoted to Program Coordinator and will co-lead the PS 94 program.

 

Bonnie Greaves, Vice-Chair
Our Board Vice-Chair, Bonnie Greaves
Tim Sheehan, Chair
Our Board Chair, Tim Sheehan

Thank you to our Board of Directors, esteemed guests NY City Councilwoman Alexa Aviles and Congressional Field Representative Mayra Molina from the office of Congressman Dan Goldman, along with CFL staff members and all of those who attended and supported our special event. We are so proud of our young leaders and are excited to see them continue to grow!