PART 2 OF COLLEENS NYC JOURNEY – SEPTEMBER 23, 2011.
Oh My Goodness, I found my way to the Bronx today, via the NYC subway this past Friday. Google map in hand I began the hike to POTS (Part Of The Solution). I can’t lie…I’m feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. 25 minutes later, I’ve found it. I see a group of people gathered outside of my charity destination.
Kim gave me a tour of the centre, which was recently renovated and expanded to offer more services to the varying needs of the community. POTS offers support services that include legal and medical counsel, a clothing and food bank, accessible showers, a post office and barber (to name just a few) . I had the opportunity to chat with James, who has been a front line worker with POTS for the past 18 years. The biggest trend he’s seen the last couple of years is the increase in the needs of the working poor. POTS have a unique relationship between their clients and the community. Mutual respect and dignity is the bottom line.
A couple of buses later, I was making my way to the North East Bronx to visit BBCC (Bronx Bethany Community Corporation). The rain held off as I walked through the residential community admiring the small community gardens that provided some fresh summer harvest between the closely packed homes.
In one of those homes I found BBCC …right in the heart of the community. I met with Richard and Melanie who talked about BBCCs mission. Through very creative arts classes, their After School Enrichment program is meeting the needs of children in the community ages 5 to 12. Small group classes teach Music, Dance, Arts &Crafts, Martial Arts and Strategic Learning. I think that this statement from a parent sums it up nicely. “ My children will be well rounded people, able to go anywhere and thrive in new environments. When they leave this program, they will have grown academically and socially. They will know that learning is more than just academics” My visit here came was to an end much too quickly.
Well the rain Gods had unleashed the fury that floods are made of. I have never seen rain fall so hard. Melanie drove me to the subway that brought me back to Times Square. The rain was just a nightmare, the streets were flooded, no taxi’s to be found and the umbrellas were no match for the wind.
Thank goodness Tim Jaccard of AMT Children of Hope Foundation, Baby Safe Haven met me in Manhattan. (He saved me a 2 hour trip outside of the city). I was nervous about this meeting because I knew we’d be talking about a subject that dealt with babies being abandoned. As a mother, I hoped that I could listen and understand without prejudges.
As a result of Tim’s passion and diligence, the Safe Haven Bill was passed in 2001. This has saved 2783 newborn babies across the nation to date. The Safe Have Bill has removed the criminal abandonment and child endangerment charges that would be laid on the Mother. Newborn babies can be safely left at any hospital without question. The mother will not be prosecuted and the police will not investigate. The process of a closed adoption then begins and that’s the part that gets me weeping; the image of a scared young girl who has kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, who has had no prenatal care, has no support system or after birth plan. They find themselves giving birth alone and scared, then panic and leave the baby to die in a garbage bin.
Can you imagine how horrible it would be for anyone who finds this blessed little being abandoned? An abandoned baby is exactly what Tim came across in 1998. His personal experience led him to advocate for the Safe haven Bill as well as for the Island of Hope burial site for Baby Jane and Joe Doe. I leave our meeting, not with a heavy heart, but with an admiration for the devotion of this organization and all the heroes that champion for children who may have never made it.
Thanks Julie for the opportunity to meet these wonderful people, I wish you were here with me. I can now cross off visiting the Bronx via Planes, trains and buses off my bucket list! See you soon .xo. Colleen.