Camp Win brings summer joy to homeless children with Midtown carnival

A little girls grins joyfully after getting her face painted during Camp Win Summer Carnival on Aug. 21
Photo by Dean Moses

Children living in the Win homeless shelters partied in the sun in Midtown on Monday with an end-of-summer carnival, giving them a chance to enjoy one more fun day this season.

Dubbed Camp Win Summer Carnival and taking place on the grounds of St. Bartholomew’s Church located at 335 Park Ave, the event is the culmination of Camp Win — a summer camp that aims to combat learning-loss associated with shelter stays by providing them with field trips to the likes of the Statue of Liberty and Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. 

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

For CEO of Win Christine Quinn, the festival is about providing children suffering from homelessness with an outlet to enjoy themselves despite the trauma of living in a shelter. Win serves as the city’s and nation’s largest provider of shelter and supportive services for homeless families with children. 

“It’s traumatic for an adult, it’s worse for a child. They more than likely have had to leave their school, leave their friends and start over in a new place where there’s lots of rules. And so we want to make sure that as much as we can. We create opportunities where children can be children,” said Quinn, a former City Council speaker. 

According to Quinn, Win shelters house between 2,500 to 2,700 children a night, which has been exasperated by the migrant crisis. Win now also cares for some 700 asylum seeker children, a population which Quinn describes as having much greater needs than traditional families due to the lack of access to resources.

Photo by Dean Moses

“They have no prior family connections, and they don’t qualify for any benefits. So a traditional family, they come in and in a couple of days we get their food stamps turned on, for example, that doesn’t happen with asylum seekers,” Quinn told amNewYork Metro. “Our pantry has had to expand greatly, and it can’t be just dry goods anymore. It also has to be protein and things like that. Also, all of these families need to engage in a legal process where they can try to get asylum.”

The Camp Win Summer Carnival invited new and native Win shelter kids from across four boroughs for what marked the third annual event. The festivities featured everything from cotton candy and face painting to the youths dancing to music and even making their own friendship bracelets. In addition to providing children with a fun and educational experience, Quinn also stated that the summer camp helps give the children’s parents time to seek work.

Photo by Dean Moses

“One of the key things that will keep a family from returning to a shelter is having good paying jobs. Most of our moms end up being entry level. If you start asking for too many days off. The boss is not gonna like that. So, we need to help our moms stabilize in their work. They can’t stabilize in their employment if they don’t have a safe place for their child to be,” Quinn said.