New York, NY (PRWEB) May 29, 2011
Playing catch. Riding your bike. Seesaw and monkey bars. Climbing a tree. For most of us, these are memories we have from playing in the backyard with our siblings and parents as a child. Unfortunately, some mothers and children do not have the luxury of creating such vivid and necessary recollections. Queens-based non-profit organization, Hour Children, is ensuring that mothers reuniting with their kids upon release from prison no longer have to sacrifice the privilege of developing strong parent-child relationships. At their newest project, Sister Kathy’s House, Hour Children is transforming a cement slab into a safe, welcoming yard for 14 families to build friendships and support one another.
Mothers exiting prison have a very difficult time reuniting with their children. They often have no income, little education and little or no paid work history. Preparing themselves for employment, getting to know their children again and keeping up with all their parole or probation requirements makes for a time that is both exciting and stressful. To make the journey from prison to life easier, Hour Children offers affordable housing and life-skills training for the families until they are able to make it on their own. The successful re-entry into the community and reunification with their children for women who have been incarcerated is achieved through stable housing, educational and employment opportunities that enable clients to live as independently as possible and reduce the rates of repeat incarceration.
“Since coming to Hour Children, I went back to school and got my G.E.D,” said Kellie Phelan, Mentoring Coordinator and Resident of Hour Children. “I was given the opportunity to take the negative things I did in my life and turn them into a positive. I guess I always thought I was missing something in my life, but I don’t feel that way at Hour Children. I’m very content with my life now.”
Sister Kathy’s House is located in Corona, Queens, New York. This neighborhood takes up about only 3 miles of New York City, but is dense, consisting of mostly apartments and family homes. Thirty percent of the population is children under the age of 18. Yet, only 2.8% of space is dedicated to open and recreational space. The backyard project at Sister Kathy’s House will include play equipment that enables the children to run around, ride bikes, and just be kids in their own backyard. It will also allow the families to spend time together socializing as the children play or organizing barbecues and celebrations. The convenience of having a real backyard will ease some of the pressure off the mothers and provide a safe, healthy outlet for the children.
Thanks to generous partners like the Pinkerton Foundation - an independent grant making foundation established in 1966 by Robert Allan Pinkerton with the broad directive to reduce the incidence of crime and to prevent juvenile delinquency, Hour Children has raised 85% of its project costs. They are now turning to their community with the help of a unique community fundraising model through The Beanstalk Foundation to fulfill their fundraising goal.
“Sister Kathy and I were part of the group Sisters at St. Joseph who opened My Mother’s House 25 years ago,” said Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Hour Children. “We opened our doors to children whose mothers were in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. These children had nowhere to go. That was really the root and origin of the work that Hour Children does today. With Sister Kathy’s House Backyard project, we want to turn this ‘blah’ space into an ‘ah’ space where mothers and children can have fun together!”
The Beanstalk Foundation is a non-profit organization that identifies and partners with remarkable grassroots leaders. Beanstalk’s social network helps these leaders connect to their community to raise funds and awareness. Beanstalk also conducts intensive background checks and reference checks to evaluate the person, the project, and the potential for successful community building.
“Beanstalk connects companies, foundations and people like you to remarkable grassroots leaders,” says Beanstalk’s Founder, Ted Stolberg. “These leaders are passionate and practical, and they devote this unique combination to the service of our communities. We think these leaders are the most powerful force for change in America today”
The American Association of the Child’s Right to Play, 2010 explains that children who engage in complex sociodramatic play have greater language skills, better social skills, more empathy, and more imagination and creativity; are less aggressive; and have more self-control and higher levels of thinking. Knowing how important play time and recreational space is for our children, Hour Children has created play areas at three of their transitional housing sites. These were created through numerous individual contributions and donations. Hour Children hopes that such generous community support will enable them to create a much-needed backyard at Sister Kathy’s House. More information about this special project is available at http://www.friendsofbeanstalk.org/play.
About Beanstalk Foundation
Beanstalk is a non-profit public charity that discovers remarkable community leaders and shines a light on them. We support leaders with financial resources, business relationships, and social networking opportunities, so that they can connect with their communities to raise funds, attract volunteers, and get things done. To us, strengthening a community means getting everyone involved: friends, volunteers, local businesses, and corporate sponsors. Learn more at http://www.friendsofbeanstalk.org.
About Hour Children
Hour Children (HC), based in Queens, NY, is a not-for-profit, non-sectarian organization that has served over 7,000 incarcerated mothers and their children over almost 25 years. We are committed to reversing the downward spiral of poverty and incarceration. Our goal is the successful re-entry into the community and reunification with children for women who have been incarcerated. This is achieved through stable housing, educational and employment opportunities that enable clients to live as independently as possible and reduce the rates of incarceration. Only 3.5% of our clients have returned to prison in the past two years, which is far lower than the statewide annual rate of 30%, as reported by NY State Department of Corrections. HC attributes the women breaking destructive cycles that span generations to our practice of providing holistic, individualized services during and after incarceration. Learn more at http://www.hourchildren.org.
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