The social issue my group researched was homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in New York City. We found that 30-40% of the street homeless population suffered from a mental illness and 64% of homeless people in New York City suffer from substance abuse. These numbers surprised us since those percentages are close to or over 50%. We see homeless people every day suffering on the streets for numerous reasons, and my group thought it would be most effective if we tried to help. After researching, we found a non-profit organization called The Bowery Residence Committee, or BRC.
BRC helps homeless people suffering with addiction and/or mental illness with numerous shelters around the city. ⅔ of BRC clients have mental illnesses or addictions. BRC’s goal is to get clients to gain self-concern and eventually be able to support themselves and have a number of programs, groups, and 1146 staff members to help them. The Bowery Residence Committee’s motto is to “give the homeless a hand up, not a hand out”. This means that the staff workers offer their services in the hope that the clients will become sober, learn to deal with their mental illness, and be able to support themselves. BRC’s staff provides support and guidance, but will not tell the clients what to do in order to achieve their goals. BRC is currently housing 1,442 people and has helped over 3,000 people successfully complete their programs.
Throughout the process of making our presentations, visiting BRC, and presenting, my attitude towards homeless people suffering from addiction and mental illness in New York City has changed over the course of the project. At first, I just thought of BRC as part of a history project that I was obligated to do. However, following our site visit, my idea of BRC was reshaped drastically. After seeing all of the clients and how happy they were in BRC’s facilities, it really showed how much BRC helped them. We also saw some classes going on including an art class which helped the clients express their feelings through art. One man, named Audrey, who was struggling with a mental illness, talked to us about his picture expressing his struggles with homelessness. It suddenly became so real to me as Audrey rambled on about being homeless. Homelessness is actually this lifestyle that people live for years. They suffer during the cold winters in New York City and constantly beg for money. In order to survive the pain, they usually abuse alcohol and drugs. It is a constant cycle that BRC helps break, so those people can finally have a chance at living a normal life.
For my social issue I chose child abuse, I visited the Jane Barker child Advocacy Center. The Center is located in Brooklyn, it is quite hidden, and hard to find. My attitude towards child abuse changed in several ways. One way it changed was towards my sensitivity of child abuse. By doing research it made me realize the negative magnitude of child abuse, and the ways it impacts New York City. This motivated me to work harder for the children, and how the Advocacy Center can improve. Before researching child abuse I did not think of it as such a burden on the community ; now I realize the importance of helping end child abuse.
There are many ways I will try and stay engaged in the social issue of child abuse. One way I will stay engaged is through occasionly checking on the child advocacy center’s progress. I will try and visit the center again in the near future. If I donate to any charity through the money I earn I will definitely donate to the child advocacy center. I am also trying to persuade my dad to donate money to the center as well as other places. My mother was abused as a child, and as well as researching this project ; child abuse holds a special place in my heart.
For our YPI project, my group decided to research lack of education, specifically arts education, and underprivileged children as our social issues. We chose to visit DreamYard, a non-profit organization with a public art center that reaches out to underprivileged public schools in the Bronx. Prior to this project, I was almost oblivious to the social issues among families and children in New York, associating most social issues in this city with homeless adults and drug addicts I saw on the street. Though these are important social issues, as well, there were issues past my field of vision that I was able to discover through this project.
I realized when I visited DreamYard why I was so unaware of these social issues, so prominent in the city in which I have lived my whole life. I would have not interacted with these children in my everyday life, my daily commute and destinations far from the confinements of kids who dream of arts education, something we, as a group, realized we take for granted. The project was rewarding in that I felt connected to children, involved in the effort to end these social issues. I learned so much from just speaking to the kids at DreamYard, who told us that they dreamed of attending college and becoming singers or artists or actors, and the director of the program, who explained the situations of these children to us, and told us the statistics of kids going on to attend college, and coming back as interns to help kids who reminded them of themselves, deserve just the same opportunity. However, the project also had its challenges. Relating to the kids was hard, and we felt extremely privileged in comparison to them. Details about the administration of the organization were hard for me to wrap my head around, and we worked hard to incorporate the voices of the children we felt so related to into our presentation. Working as a group was also a challenge, each of us often developing different opinions and ideas, sometimes leading to small debates and confusion. We were, however, able to come together as a group and use the variety of voices to our benefit. We all talked about returning to DreamYard, possibly volunteering for a day to judge contests or even teach a class in our later years of high school. Overall, we were shocked about our social issue, and quickly developed a passion for our social issue, for DreamYard, and for the kids we met.
ACK: none, I worked alone.
Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Reflection
For our YPI project, Tessa, Yeshe, Isabel, and I chose the DreamYard Project as our nonprofit organization to represent. DreamYard focuses on providing kids with art programs to boost their creativity and self-expression. My attitude toward that social issue changed drastically over the course of our project. At first, I was slightly skeptical, and I thought that it paled in comparison to a problem like poverty. However, I learned that DreamYard is actually interconnected with those social issues. Many of the youths who attend DreamYard’s free art programs are poor and cannot afford to attend other paid courses. I realized that while many of us take art classes for granted, such as those at school, the lack of art in a child’s life can have a significant impact. Children without art may not know how to express themselves, and they can become withdrawn. In hindsight, I am glad that we tried to help youth to learn art, even if we did not win ultimately.
I think that the most rewarding part of our YPI experience was the site visit itself. It was really fun to actually go to DreamYard and see all the kids working on art projects, discovering musical skills, learning fashion design, and more. Both the students and the instructors were very nice and welcoming to us, and they did not mind us taking pictures of them or interviewing them. There were even two students in the hip-hop course who performed for us. Being at DreamYard really made me realize what the organization was about, and I wanted to help the nice kids who attended the art programs.
World History 1
YPI Service Learning Reflection
My group and I researched and visited a non-profit organization called The Door, which deals with struggling teenagers. The Door has many services directed towards education, sexual health, and homelessness. Our group chose education as our main social issue because education is directly correlated to poverty in many ways, and if the right help is received it could make a big difference in someone’s life. The Door helps teenagers to obtain their GEDs and get into college, as well as tutoring and having academic classes within the Broome Street Academy which is located in the same building as the organization. The facility is so much bigger than I originally expected, with a high quality kitchen, recording studios, a dance studio, a health center, and even just a big common space for the teenagers to hang out.
During the process of this project, my attitude towards the importance of education changed dramatically. I knew that education was important, but I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have been accepted and attend Friends Seminary. The cost to attend this school is about $21,000 more than the average high school dropout earns each year. $18,000 is not enough to support a family, and sometimes the people make this amount because they are either illiterate or cannot find a well paying job.
Throughout the project I worked on how to speak clearly and efficiently, and also how to organize all the information that we researched. The hardest part of the project was coordinating everything with my group about the site visit and even the information in our presentation. However, it was very rewarding to be able to say that we tried our best and let everyone know about The Door and the amazing things they do for teenagers just like us.
The Class of 2017 spent Sunday volunteering as a way to honor all those who served during 9-11.
This was a really enriching experience for me. At this event, over 70 parents and students gathered to help out. I got to plant some shrubs with some of my classmates, and had a great time. I was still a new kid, then, and meeting my classmates outside of class helped me meet a lot more people and learn some more names. Everyone was extremely eager to help out, and I feel happy to be a part of such an amazing community of students at Friends. I cannot wait to go back and see the difference that I have made when they are all grown up.