The joy of giving was on display at Samaritan Daytop Village’s Young Mothers Program on the Upper West Side Dec. 3 with the ribbon cutting of a donated dining room renovation for mothers on the road to recovery from addiction, featuring a new play area for their children.
The “Giving Tuesday” ceremony was held at the Young Mothers Program, located on West 106th Street. It’s an intensive residential substance use disorder treatment program where up to 36 young women live with their newborn and toddler children while on the road to recovery.
They can live with their children up to age 3, as they recover from addiction, look for housing and work, and help to socialize their children to lead productive lives.
This early holiday gift of the newly renovated dining hall and play area featuring new furniture and freshly painted walls, was made possible by the generosity of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, volunteers from the company, and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children’s Bright Spaces and volunteers from Brighton Horizons.
Together, they completed $30,000 worth of rehabilitation on a once run-down, drab dining room and provided the space for young children to play in a bright environment.
Bright Horizons volunteers from centers in Tribeca, Jersey City, Newark and Citi Children’s Center came early to put the finishing touches on the dining room, as volunteers from Cantor Fitzgerald’s Network of Women gathered with donations of clothing and toiletries that they had collected for Samaritan Daytop Village’s young mothers and their children.
Officials say the young mothers are going through difficult times trying to raise their babies and at the same time, kick drug habits. More importantly, the young mothers are learning new life and job skills that will help them re-integrate into mainstream society.
When Crystal Doolan and her baby Olivia Wallace, turning 1-year-old this week, saw the renovations, she was brought to tears.
“We had just one long table to sit at for all of us – there wasn’t much space,” she said as she scanned the newly painted walls. “It’s much brighter, happier, it was very dull in here – we even have curtains. It feels like home and next week, I’m going to have her first birthday down here – my first year with my daughter.”
Kamila Boddie, a resident of the young mothers program, said this dining room means a great deal.
“It’s more colorful and kid friendly when before, it was kind of gloomy — just a place to eat,” Boddie said. “Now we can come down here like a family and hold conversations, laugh more and enjoy our meals — just like a family.”
Cutting the ribbon on the new room were Mitchell Netburn, President & CEO, Samaritan Daytop Village; Mary Lou Burke Afonso, COO of Bright Horizons, North America; and Lori Pennay, Global Head of HR & Partnership for Cantor Fitzgerald.
Pennay said that within her investment company, they have an organization the “Network of Women,” focused on retention and recruitment of women in the workplace. She observed that it was a natural partnership to work with Bright Horizons who already provides back up child and elder care for employees of her company.
“What better way to partner and continue our relationship with Brighton Horizons than to work with them to create bright spaces for those who need it and give back to the community,” Pennay said. “Cantor Fitzgerald family is proud to be a partner and ally of Bright Spaces by helping to provide young mothers with support and care they need.”
Alfonso of Bright Horizons said it is vital to have partners like Cantor Fitzgerald’s Network of Women to make their Bright Spaces program a success.
“The Bright Spaces at Samaritan Daytop Village’s Young Mothers Program provide children and families in need with a safe and supportive environment where children can play, build resilience and bond with their families and other caring adults,” she said. “The renovated rooms make whatever challenges they are facing seem a little easier and as a result brighten their day.”
Samaritan’s president Netburn marveled at the new room and said the young moms said they “love it.”
“It’s a beautiful dining area and play area and that is so important to be in welcoming environment as these moms are in recovery and that has an impact on the children that lasts for for decades,” he said.