It's been a great honor this year to work with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children and Rocking the Boat, two nonprofit organizations that are doing terrific work in Brooklyn. They have just launched the first of what will become quite a fleet of CLC boat kits. Hunts Point, in Brooklyn, NY, is the poorest zip code in the United States east of the Mississippi. It is near the new Fulton Fish Market.
Here's a June 2010 press release from the Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC):
Who rocks? Hunts Point rocks!
That was the battle cry last Saturday as Rocking the Boat, a community organization that teaches children how to build boats from scratch, had its annual boat launching celebration. The boat launching celebration was complimented by an award ceremony for HPAC’s Career Exploration Mentoring Program.
“Today is to acknowledge their participation and their work,” said Jennie Park-Taylor, a professor at Fordham University who participates in the Career Exploration Mentoring Program.
“I think there are a lot of challenges,” she said. “They face a lot of stressors in their everyday living situation, but I think kids, when they’re offered the right opportunities, they can overcome a lot.”
The program takes children from Hunts Point to Fordham University, where they sit in on real college classes and chat with professionals in their chosen field.
Since early March, RTB has been helping the students of Hunts Point construct three kayaks, and one full size boat, for use in the Bronx River. The boats will be used all year to keep an eye on environmental conditions in the local waterway.
“They [the boats] are the most physical manifestation of the kids' energy, but there is a ton more to celebrate,” said Adam Green, the executive director of Rocking the Boat (RTB).
One of many reasons to celebrate was the amazing amount of support these students are receiving, and the positive role models that were provided for them.
Chauncey Murray, one of the students who attended the event, commented on what he took away from the program. Murray wants to involve himself in sports medicine.
“I want to have a good career,” he said. “It was fun, we got to see people from all over.”
Park-Taylor said the program came about when she and Maryann Hedaa, the founder of HPAC, started to realize the lack of positive career role models within the community.
“My hope is they recognize this as an avenue for them,” she said. “We wanted them to have a positive experience at a university. Both RTB and the Young Careerist program undoubtedly fostered these positive experiences, in a neighborhood where such opportunities are few and far between.
Mike O'Keefe, Hunts Point Alliance for Children