Be the Solution

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If you visited Graham Windham sites across New York City, you might see the phrase “Be the Solution” appear in various places – on posters on the wall, on wristbands and buttons people may be wearing, and, most importantly, embedded deep in our approach to changing the lives of children and families in crisis.

We help children and families to be the solution to the seemingly insurmountable problems in their lives, from generational cycles of poverty, abuse, and neglect to unemployment, domestic violence, and severe health problems. By recognizing and reinforcing their innate strengths and ability to cope, we can empower them to take the lead in making change in their lives.

Here’s how we at Graham Windham – from those we serve to our board and staff – are being the solution to the problems we face as a community.

 

I’m in college right now, and I’m focused on school. I’m eyeing the social work field for a career – the field relates to me and my life. I grew up in poverty, and my mother and I were very nomadic. I practically raised my sisters, who look up to me, even my older sister. We met a lot of different social workers, and there are not enough males in the field. At the end of the day, to give back is the most important thing. You have to go against everyone else and do what’s right, and you have to stay positive.

-Daniel, who grew up in foster care and is currently in college earning his associate’s degree in liberal arts

 

I got involved in child welfare because I believe that families and children are a key part of life. In my role in providing preventive services, I’m working with families so that they can stay together if possible to overcome the challenges coming at them. I help them to see different options, make changes, and deal with and work with obstacles – but we’re not doing it for them. We help them to speak louder, be heard, and step outside of the chaos in their lives.

-Jennifer Blumenthal, Director of Beacon TIES preventive program

   

 

  

It is an honor to be recognized as someone who stands out, someone who believes in the Graham Windham mission to strive for excellence. I never considered myself as a solution, just someone who’s not afraid to say “May I help you?” or “I think we could.” Being a person that was placed in care as a child, I understand the importance of a strong loving foundation and I believe that Graham Windham is headed in the right direction. I thank you all for being team players and for allowing one’s input.

-Tyrone Crowder, Facility Assistant

 

 

 

I’m lucky that I was placed in foster care with a loving family. In living with a family that’s not your own, it takes time to trust, but you come to love them as if they were your own. My mom and dad are not here anymore, but I’m trying to be successful because I want them to be proud of me. I have to look out for my siblings – they look up to me. The best compliment I ever got was from my foster parents, that I would grow up to do wonderful things with my life.

-Christine, a Poul Jensen Honorary College Scholarship recipient who completed her bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, Hospitality, and Tourism in 2011

 

 

 

As Chair of our Audit Committee, I like to think of myself as guarding the kids’ money. Putting the highest percentage of the money that we can into the kids’ welfare helps me persevere. There is more pressure on the kids and more pressure on the organization for the magic bullet than before. There’s this concept that we can give kids a lollipop and a Band-Aid and send them home. It’s good to see the success, but you know it’s not over. You know there’s a lot of work to do.

-Henry Carnage, Trustee on Graham Windham’s Board of Directors for almost 30 years; retired from IBM

 

 

I spent my first few years out of college in a job where I learned a lot about business but didn’t feel fulfilled. I decided to get my MBA so that I could make a career switch into social services. Now, I have the opportunity to do so many different things that I love, including learning about research, reviewing performance measures, working with staff to figure out how to act on data and information, strategic planning and developing new programs. I also get the chance to work with staff to hear the stories of their work with children and families and coach them in how to effectively use our Solution-Based Casework model to ensure children are in loving homes. I have such varied days, doing work that is analytical, forward-thinking, emotional and exciting. I spend each day grateful for having such meaningful work. 

 
-Bonnie Kornberg, Senior Performance Officer 
   

 

Child Welfare is a rewarding yet challenging field to work in. It gives you a sense of fulfillment to help children and families, who are disadvantaged in many ways. While working in this field, I’ve found myself to have an open mind, be optimistic despite certain circumstances and willing to take an extra step if needed to achieve a positive end result.

-Bianca Reid, Bridges to Health (B2H) Performance Specialist

 

 

   

I felt lost without my kids. It hurt me, putting my daughter through what I had to go through [by placing her in foster care]. It hurt me, not knowing what she would become. I wanted to be there in her future. My mother [who passed away] didn’t have a chance to do that. But I’m alive – I have a chance.

-“Jennifer” (name changed to protect privacy), a mother who worked to overcome the issues that once forced her to put her child in foster care. Because of her efforts in working with our staff to change her life, Jennifer was granted the chance to bring her daughter home.

 

 

 

At Graham Windham I have been able to combine my love of accounting with my love of children. Every time I hear how we have made a difference in a child’s life I know all our hard work has not been in vain. Even though we face budget cuts after budget cuts we have managed to stretch and save the dollars to still provide the services needed by our children and families.

-Josie Reyes, Accounting Manager 

 

 

 

I remember when I met one of our former foster care kids who is now the mother of two, finished a two-year degree, has a job, takes care of her family, and said that because of Graham Windham, “My kids will never go into foster care.” That’s what touches me and keeps me here, because I remember when someone encouraged me to get a better education and how it changed my life. The position I hold as Director of Budget in Graham Windham’s fiscal department allows me to work with the various programs to develop, implement, and support fiscal responsibilities. By facilitating this process, programs are able to do the hard work of supporting families and children.

-Ping Sun, Director of Budget

 

 

I have been fortunate to play a role, along with many others, in what has become a total transformation of Graham Windham from the organization as it existed at the time I joined the Board. Nothing is more compelling than what Graham-Windham does. We work in some of the most blighted parts of New York City to preserve families and to ensure that children and youth have safe and nurturing homes and a quality education. There are few organizations that can have such life-changing impacts, and Graham-Windham does everyday.

 

-John Cecil, Trustee on Graham Windham’s Board of Directors for more than a quarter century; John is a private investor.