TFC Takes Pride in Our Inclusive Community

Gay St 7.2016On the night of Saturday  June 11th, I was with friends celebrating Brooklyn Pride. Sunday morning I learned that there had been  a mass shooting in Orlando. It wasn’t until Monday that I was able to process what was happening. An LGBTQIA nightclub was attacked by one person with an assault rifle at the same time I had been  at an LGBTQIA event. The underlying implications of this event became very real to me. “It could have been the party I was attending if I were visiting Orlando, or if the shooter lived in New York City.” I realized that I wasn’t the only person to come to this feeling of being unsafe when friends began to state they were not going to New York City pride events because of the looming unknown.

Orlando victims 7.2016Back at work that week I talked to  my colleagues  about the fear I was feeling and I was encouraged to think of my clients that have experienced trauma and the effect this incident may be having on them. So, I checked in with my clients who have identified the LGBTQIA community as one they belonged to, and I heard story after story of times that living out loud made them feel unsafe as well as about times that it felt empowering. I encouraged my clients to have compassion for themselves in the coming weeks, and only do and read what felt good. And I decided to practice what I preached.

It was especially important that I go to the NYC Pride March this year. The March originated as a protest forty-six years ago, demanding that people could safely be themselves. It was a place where community gathered and offered comfort, understanding and empowerment. And although it has shifted greatly since its origination, this year it reconnected to that. Float after float paid homage and held vigils for our community members that lost their lives in Orlando. There were moments of silence full of shared sadness and shared hope.

Child in rainbow flag 7.2016Here at TFC we share experiences with clients every day and use the space that we have to encourage a sense of calm, peace and safety. I am excited to continue to offer our space to build a safe and caring community to all people by beginning a monthly dinner series for our clients and members of our community that identify as LGBTQIA. We welcome LGBTQIA individuals and families to join us in resisting hate with joy and compassion. The safety I felt at the parade came from being completely myself and having people not just tolerate it, but celebrate it. And if I can offer a little bit of that feeling to our clients I will always choose to do so.  If you are a current TFC client and are interested in participating in the dinner series, please contact me at fstaime@thefamilycenter.org.

Florie agenda 7.2016_cropped

Me at the 2016 NYC Pride March

-Florie St. Aime, LMSW
Social Worker for TFC’s Family Support & Counseling Program


Two Words

LWI client appreciation note 7.2016Clients come to the Legal Wellness Institute (LWI) during some of the most challenging periods in their lives. When they arrive at our office, they are struggling with illness, loss and the uncertainty of legal proceedings. Although it is the last thing any of us would expect, LWI clients always find a way to say thank you for our work.

Yesterday, our legal services coordinator, Jonathan Riedel and one of our legal interns, Ellen Degnan, received a noteworthy thank you. It was from a client with whom they had been working with on an administrative agency dispute. After weeks of diligent effort, they secured a favorable decision without the client having to go to a hearing. As you can see, the client was delighted with the outcome.

LWI Jon and Ellen w their edible arrangement 2

Ellen and Jonathan with their sweet thank you from a grateful LWI client.

Ellen said, “Receiving this gift filled me with joy because it offered a glimpse of our client’s joy, her relief, even days after we celebrated the good news together. There is no better feeling.”

LWI is thankful for the opportunity to do work that matters and frequently, for the gratitude of our clients. Of course, we never ask for a thank you, but those two words are always nice to hear.

To each and every one of our grateful clients, we have two simple words, “You’re welcome.”

The Best is Yet to Come

There have been seven birthdays, a few hundred Metrocard swipes, thousands of texts, one motorcycle accident (no injuries), two camping trips, and lately dozens of conversations about politics and socioeconomics. We’ve hit a lot of milestones together: Eddie’s two graduations, his 18th birthday, and most recently my wedding.

John and Eddie at John's wedding 6.2016

John and Eddie at John’s recent wedding

Having my little brother Eddie give a thumbs up from the back of the church calmed my nerves and put a smile on my face. After calling him my brother for many years, I now consider him a true and permanent member of my family.

The Buddy Program opened up both of our worlds to an incredible mixture of memorable experiences—mostly good, some challenging, but all of them meaningful. We’ve stood by each other through tough transitions and incredible achievements, and I know the best is yet to come.


Honoring My Favorite Guy on Father’s Day

Fathers Day blog IGC photo_James GambleWhile Mother’s Day often gets top billing over Father’s Day, for me the day has always been very special because I believe that I had the best father anyone could ever have.   My dad, James Gamble, exemplified what it meant to be a true father.  He retired from career in the printing field while I was still in elementary school.  So I had the pleasure of coming home every day and finding my dad there waiting with a home-cooked meal.  As my mom continued to work, he took on the day-to-day caregiving and household responsibilities for me and my siblings.  Trust me; this change in roles did not at all diminish who he was as a man.  Still strong, head of the household, but the best caregiver anyone could ask for.  The relationship that he developed with his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors and friends was unparalleled.  We often called our home Grand Central Station because everyone knew that if they needed a hot meal, or a listening ear, he was there for them.

Fathers Day blog IGC photo_James Gamble at wedding anniversaryThe Family Center is honored to work with men who are partnering with us to help bring additional support to their children and their families.  Men who are not afraid or ashamed to say they need help.  I am glad that The Family Center is there to offer support and encouragement as these men tackle the hardest job there is, caring for children, helping them to mature into responsible, caring adults.

On this Father’s Day, I salute the fathers who are actively involved in raising their children.  A special hats off to the men, brothers, uncles, Godfathers, friends, who step up to care for children, who may not be biologically related to them, but who nonetheless are actively involved in these children’s lives.  Thank you for all of the support, guidance, and nurturing provided to the children whose lives you are enhancing.

Fathers Day blog IGC photo_James Gamble at IGC wedding daySo on this Father’s Day, I acknowledge the man who raised me and the many men who are standing tall, making a difference in the lives of children.  Thank you for your dedication and commitment.

Happy Father’s Day

-Ivy Gamble Cobb, Executive Director


Prom Roses

While prom can be a very exciting time in high school, family financial constraints can prevent some from attending, as may be the case with many of TFC’s adolescent clients. This past Saturday, The Yellow Rose Project helped remove that burden by escorting TFC high school girls shopping for prom dresses.

Happy Dress Shoppers 5.2016

See more photos of giggles in the fitting rooms below and if you are interested in sponsoring a young lady’s prom experience, you can still donate to The Yellow Rose Project.

 
The Family Center is thankful to Shauna Kamiel, the visionary founder of The Yellow Rose Prom Project, and all those who donated to support this initiative benefiting our adolescent girls.


What A Difference..

Since its inception, The Buddy Program has matched adult mentors with over 400 children confronting difficult life events, such as parental illness or familial crisis.  These mentors have become friends and shoulders to lean on during the hard times.  We’re proud of the adults that take on the sometime challenging role of mentor and the bonds they create with their Buddies.

This May, join us at BLOOM to support our children and meet some of their mentors who are making a positive impact on young New Yorkers’ lives.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

In early December of 2015, 116 of our clients completed a satisfaction survey and gave high scores (4 out of a total score of 5) on different areas such as: cleanliness, comfort, safety, and appearance of The Family Center’s facilities, as well as the helpfulness and friendliness of staff.  Clients were also asked to talk about their experience coming to The Family Center, specifically what they liked vs. disliked, and if they would recommend our services to others in their family or community.  People commented on how comfortable they are coming to The Family Center, how supportive and great our staff are, and expressed having an overall pleasant feeling at our office in Brooklyn.

In order to better demonstrate what clients said about The Family Center, a word cloud was created using the written statements from the satisfaction survey.  This word cloud shown below is a graphical representation of a word count where the size of the word directly relates to the number of times the word was used.  Looking at this word cloud, you get a sense that people talked a lot about our services, our helpfulness, and friendliness, as well as the good people at The Family Center and what a great place it is.  Interestingly, the word “Family” is the largest word, and the word “center” also appears in this word cloud, demonstrating that clients talked about The Family Center as a whole, but also mentioned their family, or families in general, a great deal since the word is larger than the word “center.”  The Family Center learned a great deal from the feedback we received from our clients.  We hope to continue bringing exceptional services and care to the New York City community and our clients.

Word Cloud from Client Satisfaction Survey 2.12.2016

-Casey Castro, Family Center Research Coordinator

 


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