Children of the City of Brooklyn Become Volunteers

By: Kristin Deann Gabriel

When Brooklyn, New York's David Sante was just nine years old, an outreach counselor from Children of the City visited his single parent mother.

"My Mom just loved it," said David. "To hear that someone was willing to grab her four kids and take them for a Saturday morning ... well, she agreed to that." Soon thereafter, David and his siblings made this community organization their second home.

Serving the children and families of Southwest Brooklyn, the group has done this for about twenty years. Families have overcome welfare and poverty, substance abuse, plus lifestyles of violence and gang activities. And many of them are are now pouring their own time back into the community and volunteering.

Once he was a teenager himself, David began volunteering. He wrote and performed rap music with value-based lyrics that reiterated the principles that he learned from programs like the organization's Future Safe Program.

One out of three Brooklyn, New York families today lives below the poverty line. With more than 17 thousand cases of child abuse in Brooklyn, and a 48 percent high school drop out rate, community organizations like this offer hope for help.

Out of 30 thousand students, 15 thousand are high school dropouts. There are drugs, disease, gang violence and crime, as well as about one thousand deaths per year.

"I decided eight years ago to join the Board of Children of the City to help do something about these statistics," said Rocco Basile. "All of this is happening in Sunset Park, and there are thousands of kids in need of education and intervention, and families in need of help and guidance." Those who volunteer agree with Basile that kids at risk can be quite resilient if they are given the right education.

This volunteer-based organization is making a difference by connecting people in need with basic services, education, employment training, health care services, counseling, and even food.

During the recent 2007 holidays starting with Thanksgiving, voluteers like Basile went to different food distributors and asked them to donate turkeys and canned foods. They obtained enough food to feed more than 800 people, which they helped distribute.

During the holidays, 89 volunteers spent three nights gift wrapping with the help of 89 other volunteers from a number of out of state organizations. There were more than 44 volunteers from Ohio and Virginia who helped the charity make visits to over 745 kids.

Now 36 years old with a family of his own, David provides tech support for a living, and credits what he learned in his childhood with helping him learn the principles for success that helped him rise above the effects of poverty that surrounded him as a child. He broke through the perils of a gang infested neighborhood, learned to have perseverance, hope, and most important of allScience Articles, he learned to believe in himself.

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