This week, DGC’ers took a field trip to PS 140 on NYC’s Lower East Side where we got to spend time with great students, grades 1-5, at one of Educational Alliance’s After School Programs. We helped them with homework, did group reading, learned about the cutest boys in One Direction (it’s a toss-up between Harry Styles and Zane!) and were treated to an early viewing of talent show dance moves.
During our mini-briefing about The Educational Alliance After School Programs, we learned that the organization provides almost 2,000 kids between 5 – 17 years old with tutoring, homework help, snacks/meals – and “a safe place to go” after school. Activities are modeled after The Boys & Girls Clubs’ nationally-recognized program, so classes and events focus on important issues like education, the arts, health, exercise & nutrition, and alcohol/drug, pregnancy & gang prevention.
This experience was DGC’s second time working with the Educational Alliance. For our annual holiday philanthropy in November 2013, we spent a morning with the Educational Alliance Head Start program, a pre-school program for children ages 3-5 located on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.
As always, we had a wonderful time with the kids – in large part, thanks to the UJA-Federation New York for helping to coordinate DGC’s participation. Giving back is not only something we love to do; it’s one of DGC’s core cultural values. Now it’s time to brush up on our dance moves as we get ready to attend PS 140’s upcoming talent show!
Coming off of a successful day of philanthropy just a few weeks ago at Educational Alliance’s Head Start Program, DGC took to Casino Day at Jewish Home Lifecare, a nursing and rehabilitation facility for elders in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In fact, the afternoon marked our fourth holiday philanthropy effort, having cleaned up the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and participated in a weekly food delivery campaign through God’s Love We Deliver in 2011. We also participated this year in New York Cares’ Coat Drive where we were able to not only donate our own coats but in fact a number of others from various businesses in our office building.
Before volunteering, I sought out the advice of an expert – both in card playing and in interacting with the elderly. My 92-year old grandmother. “Smile. Engage them in conversation. And when you’re playing cards, show a little ruchmunis – a little mercy.”
Needless to say, we didn’t need to show any mercy as these residents truly had a knack for these games! When we arrived, we were eagerly greeted by the residents – many of whom were anticipating Casino Day all week. And the volunteers from DGC were joined by those from UJA-Federation New York, the organization that provides volunteer services and nearly $200 million in annual funding to organizations like the Jewish Home Lifecare.
We arrived for orientation and were assigned to different tasks and groups. Those that manned casino games like poker dealer extraordinaire Howie “Aces High” Schacter and blackjack dealers Michael Isaacson and Jackie Berté found themselves on the front lines, while other DGC’ers like Soraya Eltomey and Melanie Mackey helped to escort the residents from their rooms and between games. Not to be forgotten were those of us that manned the prize room where the big winners of the day traded their vouchers for gifts such as stunning holiday scarves. Click here for photos of the day’s activities.
The takeaway from the day was clear, and my grandmother’s advice served as more of a theme. The residents were eager to have conversations with us – one gentleman even sought out Jackie to help him set up his Twitter account! And the smiles were in abundance – from the participants, the facility workers, and the volunteers. In fact, some of us have committed to coming back as volunteers on a regular basis.
We’d like to again thank our friends at UJA for what was yet another positive experience – a feeling I’m sure we will take with us into the New Year. Giving back to the community is incredibly important to us at DGC, and we look forward to continuing our volunteer efforts throughout the entire year of 2014.
DGC kicked off the holiday season with a morning of philanthropy at the Educational Alliance Head Start program, a pre-school program for children ages 3-5 located on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. This morning marked our third annual holiday philanthropy effort, having cleaned up the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and participated in a weekly food delivery campaign through God’s Love We Deliver in 2011.
Upon arrival this morning, we attended a brief mini-orientation where we learned all about the Educational Alliance, it’s programming and the wonderful work it does in the New York community. The Educational Alliance is a non-profit organization that helps break the cycle of poverty for low-income children and families through preschool, after school programs and college prep programs. Children in the Head Start and Day Care programs learn, explore, socialize and grow, and families receive help with employment and social services.
After orientation, we broke into groups and headed off to individual classrooms for a morning of play and activities ranging from arts & crafts and cooking class to reading and yes, even recess! We had a blast hanging out with the kids, and more importantly, it was an amazing opportunity for us to give back to our local community, a major tenet of DGC’s company culture. Click here for pics of the day’s activities.
A big thank you to our friends at UJA-Federation New York for not only making a wonderful experience possible, but also for helping Educational Alliance run its wonderful programming as one of the organization’s biggest annual donors.
Next up on the DGC Philanthropy docket – Casino Day on December 11 at Jewish Home Lifecare, a nursing and rehabilitation facility for elders in northern Manhattan!