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Welcome to Catholic Charities Alianza Youth Services

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Introducing Our New Feature!

By Eddie Silverio

Director of Catholic Charities Alianza Youth Services

 

In order to bring YOU, our community, partners, sponsors and program participants, the latest up-to-the-minute news from our Catholic Charities Alianza Youth Services Division on a timely and regular basis, we will offer regular blog posts right here on CHARITY IN ACTION.

It is with great pride that we launch this initiative to serve as a vehicle to showcase and inform the community of our upcoming events, programs and special events for children and youth largely of Dominican American descent from Washington Heights and the South Bronx. The blogs will not only provide information on our work with youth but also on the accomplishments of Catholic Charities of New York in celebration of our 100th Anniversary.

The most effective manner to champion and promote our programs is through our success stories and testimonials. I am proud that we will be sharing with you some of the life changing moments of our program participants and the quality of service that Alianza is providing. Let our record of success speak for itself! Enjoy!

Teens Open Food Pantry to Serve Families and Community

It began with a simple discussion on the needs of the community with teens from Catholic Charities Alianza Dyckman Cornerstone program in Washington Heights.  One idea led to another and before you knew it the brainchild of these teenagers was born the Dyckman Cornerstone Food Pantry. 

Located at the school, the pantry began serving 60 households per month, 30 on a bi-weekly basis. Through Catholic Charities’ Community Outreach Services

program teens were able to secure the food that is distributed. 

 

NYC DYCD Cornerstone youth programs are designed to help participants ages 6 to 17 from Kindergarten to 12th grade acquire the skills and attitudes they need to graduate from high school, succeed in their chosen career, and give back to the community. Typical youth programs include: literacy programs, tutoring, homework assistance, financial literacy/planning, computer access, project-based learning opportunities, High School and College prep, math clubs, photography, digital recording, recreational activities, (dance, wrestling, boxing conditioning, soccer, basketball), healthy eating and living, creative/media arts, chess, and martial arts.

Food deliveries are received on Friday evenings prior to its distribution on Saturday mornings from 10am-12pm. On Fridays Dyckman Cornerstone participants volunteer their time to prepare pantry bags which have items from all four food groups and on Saturdays they distribute the food bags to members of the community.

What started out as securing food for only 60 households has now grown to 171.

This groundbreaking teen-developed action program received a $5,000 grant from NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and a discretionary grant in the amount of $7,500 from the NYC Council District 10.  Our Catholic Charities Dyckman Cornerstone participants gladly volunteer their time twice a month to spearhead this project to provide some of our neediest families an extra supplement of food they need to improve their quality of life.

The next step for the teens is to turn our Dyckman Cornerstone food distribution program into a full-fledge food pantry.

Lights, Camera, Action! 

Whether creating a food pantry to serve the community or writing, directing and producing hard hitting short films about life in the inner city Catholic Charities Alianza Youth Services participants are breaking barriers and making a difference.

Award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer Bobby Ashley is an alumna of Alianza’s Innovative Diploma High School, a small high school devoted to giving second chances to high school dropouts, and Learn to Work program, class of 2012.  He is an example of overcoming barriers and how hard work pays off.   A Brooklyn native, Bobby’s dedication towards screenwriting, directing and executive producing short films, features and web series started at the age of fourteen.

His first no-budget short film in 2011, "Thicker than Water" centers on a young women trying to balance her personal and love life. Bobby continued to polish his talent by writing and directing several video projects throughout high school.  After graduating from Innovation Diploma Plus High School, Bobby attended the Stella and Charles Guttmann Community College, CUNY, graduating with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts in Science.

In 2014, Ashley wrote and directed a compelling project titled "Positive" to educate viewers and bring awareness of HIV/ AIDS. The talented director is currently working on the second season of the highly acclaimed web series, “The Ave,” a cutting-edge new drama series that has gained momentum with over one million viewers streaming on Amazon Prime.   “The Ave” delivers insight into the lives of dynamic characters that are raw, real and resonate with its core audience.  Bobby's production company, "Joe Entertainment,” has several projects in development. 

So watch out for the next blockbuster film.  It may well be a Bobby Ashley production!

Famed Dominican Artist Julia Santos Solomon Shares Her Personal Story With Our Dominican American Students

Recently, fifteen of our Catholic Charities Alianza In-School-Youth participants, most of Dominican American heritage from Washington Heights and the South Bronx, had a private tour of the Dominican Archives at City Dominican Studies Institute

 

This interdisciplinary research unit    of the City University of New York is devoted to the study of Dominicans in the United States and other parts of the world, including the Dominican Republic. The Institute is housed at The City College of New York in Upper Manhattan, a campus bordered by the City's historic Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods, which are home to the largest concentration of Dominicans in the country.

 

The particularly special part of the day involved meeting famed Dominican-American multi-media artist Julia Santos Solomon and seeing several of her works that are being preserved by the Institute. 

She shared her personal story with participates about growing up in Washington Heights and pursuing her dream of becoming an artist. 

Ms. Santos Solomon was born in the Dominican Republic, and came to the United States at the age of 10, moving to New York City in 1966 to study art. After attending the High School of Art and Design in New York, she received a full scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). 

She attended Brown University while still at RISD.  She went to Rome, Italy with RISD’s European Honor’s Program. 

Over the course of three years, she discovered her kinship with the Italian Renaissance masters which inspired a series of Caribbean landscapes.   She became a founding member of The Altos de Chavon School of Design, a Parsons School affiliate, in the Dominican Republic.  She moved back to the United States and taught at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan for 18 years. 

Participants were proud not only that a world-class institution is devoted to the study of Dominican history and culture but also that it is located right in the heart of New York’s Dominican community.

Learn more about Catholic Charities services for youth