Great to have parents in the office to hear a recap of our first week of Camp Robin Hood!
Recently, we spent the morning in Gerritsen Beach with the young men enrolled in the Building Works pre-apprenticeship carpentry program. The 27 students were ending a seventeen-week-long training program, which culminated in a three week service project at a church that was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy.
The students worked alongside their instructors, all of whom are union members and seasoned professionals, learning how to fit ceiling tiles, frame windows and caulk seams. Through a partnership with Heart 9/11, a volunteer disaster response organization and a Robin Hood Sandy Relief grantee, Building Works was able to provide its students with a real-life project while helping rebuild our community—a win, win for both organizations for sure.
When you first meet the young men it is difficult to believe that they are only 18 to 24 years old. Many of them have been carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders since they were very young; however, after a few minutes, you start to see their youthful optimism about their futures.
During their 30-minute lunch break, we spoke with one soon-to-be graduate, Eddie, whose unbelievable hard work is starting to pay off.
So, tell me a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the Bronx near Pelham Parkway and attended Lehman High School, but I didn’t receive my diploma. I live with my mother, grandmother and little brother. I am the man of the house and take care of everyone. I got my first job when I was 13 selling shoes, but I couldn’t support my family and still go to school, so I dropped out. I ended up getting my GED through a program at a youth center in Manhattan called The Door*. After, I began working at the Whole Foods on Bowery.
How did you hear about the Building Works training program?
A friend told me about it. I decided to enroll and was lucky enough to get accepted. Things just had to get better. I needed to get a job that paid a decent salary or I wasn’t going to make it.
So what time do you start your day?
I wake up at 4:00am and leave my house by 4:30am. I need to be at Building Works by 8am and the train takes me over 2 hours.
But that still has you getting here by 6:30/7. Why would you leave so early?
I would rather get here an hour and a half early than one minute late. If you are more than one minute late, you are kicked out of the program. I don’t want to be the guy who goes through the application process and weeks of training to get kicked out for being late days before graduation… I work here from 8am until 3:30. Then, I head back to the city and get to Whole Foods by 5 or 6. I work there until 12:30/1am and then take the train home. It doesn’t leave me a lot of time for sleep – maybe an hour or two. I have no choice though. I’ve got to make it.
You graduated on Wednesday. Congratulations! Do you have a job lined up yet?
No. Not yet, but I will. I’m not going to leave Whole Foods until I get something more permanent. But it will happen. I need to make rent payments and support my family.
Do you mind me asking, how old are you?
These 27 young men graduated from the pre-apprentice training program with the skills and attitude to find success as they continue down the path to adulthood. We are incredibly proud to support the lifesaving work that Building Works does and the commitment of so many trainees. We agree with Eddie, “things just have to get better” and they are.
*Robin Hood has been funding The Door since 2006. Our funding supports their G.E.D. program as well as their college entry and employment placement services.
We are honored to have received the Hagedorn Award for Philanthropy at the annual meeting of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. The Hagedorn Award, established in 2003 by the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, recognizes generosity and vision in assisting Long Island’s health and human service community.
Accepting the award on behalf of Robin Hood was Robin Hood board member Victoria Bjorklund, who served as the chair of the Robin Hood Sandy Relief Fund, which granted over $11 million to more than 55 organizations throughout Long Island aiding those affected by super storm Sandy.
We are very proud of this recognition and thank all of those who supported our Relief Fund, but we are not ready to declarevictory while there are still Sandy victims in need.
How do ya soak up the sun #likeaNewYorker? On a roof? In the park? Near the water?
Take our “New Yorker” Quiz and learn how Robin Hood fights poverty like a New Yorker.
Children are society’s most valuable members and they’re also the most vulnerable. Lawyers for Children, a Robin Hood grantee focused on providing free legal and social work advocacy to abused and neglected children, children in foster care and children in high conflict custody cases, recently developed an incredible online resource for children.
What used to be a scattered and buried web resource has been transformed into an easily accessible and mobile friendly information hub. Designed for youth, the reformed site provides information on immigration, education, LGBTQ issues, pregnancy, mental health, sexual abuse and foster care among other topics.
View the handbook & resource list here.
Please share this with any organizations or individuals that could benefit from it!
Spring Cleaning with a Purpose
When New Yorkers clean out their closets, many turn to the Thrift Stores at Housing Works to donate their ‘once cherished’ items. The 12 Thrift Shop locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn serve as donation centers and feature some of the best treasures for re-sale in all of New York. After staff and volunteers comb through these donations, they pull out the best treasures— clothing, accessories and home décor—sell in support of Housing Works’ critical mission: to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy and the provision of lifesaving services.
With 100% of the proceeds from the stores funding Housing Work’s fight to end AIDS and Homelessness, the Thrift Shops are able to provide more than $18 million in funding each year for their lifesaving programs.
When Housing Works was founded in 1990, AIDS was rapidly becoming a primary cause of homelessness throughout the nation. In New York City, there were fewer than 350 units of supportive housing for the estimated 30,000 homeless people living with AIDS and H.I.V. Thousands of people lived on the streets or in dangerous and squalid shelters with no access to health care or social services. At the same time, a lack of effective H.I.V. prevention and educational programs juxtaposed against increasing intravenous drug use and unsafe sex led to dramatic increases in H.I.V. among the city’s homeless.
From the very start, Housing Works has maintained that supportive housing is a prerequisite to coping with debilitating conditions, such as chemical dependence, mental illness, homelessness, and H.I.V. infection. Since 1990, Housing Works has provided health, housing and supportive services to more than 25,000 homeless and low income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Robin Hood is proud to have partnered with Housing Works from the beginning. Since our first grant in 1991, we have invested over $7 million in Housing Works’ programs, including a capital grant awarded in 2004 which enabled Housing Works to open a 20 unit residence for women coming out of prison.
To learn more about Housing Works, the Thrift Shops, please visit their website.
Last week Mayor Bloomberg announced the winners of the first ever NYC Innovative Nonprofit Awards, created to support local nonprofits that exhibit creative approaches and exemplary program implementation. Nine out of the ten semifinalists were Robin Hood grantees, including Green City Force and Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, who were both prize winners.
Green City Force’s Clean Energy Corps – First Prize ($20,000)
Engages NYCHA residents between ages 18-24 on 6-month environmental projects to educate them on sustainability issues and provide critical work experience.
The program yields a 78% graduation rate, a 65% job placement rate and on average participants achieve a full grade point increase in math or English.
Center for Family Life in Sunset Park’s Cooperative Development Project – Second Prize ($10,000)
Organizes worker-run cooperatives to support immigrant residents of Sunset Park as they launch competitive small businesses in their community.
One co-op project earned total revenues of $958,726 in 2012 with the average member earning over $22 per hour.
How do ya communicate #likeaNewYorker? Let us know what qualities make you a New Yorker?