In this Issue


CAMBA Toy Drive Brings Joy


Include CAMBA in Year-End Giving


Holiday Lights Dazzle at Park Slope Women's Shelter


Community Gathers for World AIDS Day





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CAMBA is a non-profit agency that provides services that connect people with opportunities to enhance their
quality of life.
December 2014

toysCAMBA Toy Drive Brings Joy to Kids Who Need It
Jaiden, 4, a CAMBA Gardens tenant, receives a donated gift from Santa
Happy cries of "presents, presents!" filled the community room of CAMBA Gardens on a recent Thursday afternoon. Children gathered, waiting almost-patiently for their turn with Santa, who had just settled into his chair next to a bright and shining tree.

For these dozen or so kids in Wingate, Brooklyn, the Santa in the room was the star of their holiday party. But the real Santas had already done their magic from afar---fulfilling wish lists and donating holiday gifts to kids at CAMBA shelters, transitional homes and in family support programs.

In all, the holiday donors gave more than 1,000 gifts and donated more than $2,500 through CAMBA's Toys for Joy drive, which was started this fall to make the holidays special for kids in need. 

"I'm very thankful," said Nyesha Dorsey, a CAMBA Gardens tenant whose 4-year-old son Jaiden had just returned to her side with a gift from Santa. "I have a job," Dorsey continued, "but even this one gift can be a struggle. This has taken a real burden off."

Throughout December, toy drive donors have been making the season memorable for kids and parents in CAMBA programs. 

Gina Argano

The morning of a holiday party for CAMBA's home visiting and infant and maternal care programs, a U-Haul truck rolled up carrying gifts for 275 children---all donated through one amazing supporter and her family and friends. Gina Argano, a Brooklyn-based fitness and dance instructor, worked for weeks organizing the drive, collecting and storing the gifts and even stocking the party itself with a tree, music, games and activities for the kids, and food, drinks and paper goods for more than 300 people.

"I've been sleeping on the kitchen floor for days because my house has been floor-to-ceiling with gifts," Argano said, beaming. "It's been amazing what my friends and family have done for these kids."

Argano also brought in gifts for more than 100 children at CAMBA's Flagstone Family Center, a site where 450 homeless children received gifts through the toy drive.

Argano voiced a sentiment heard from many of the drive's donors: "We want to just keep going bigger and bigger each year."

Of course, Argano wasn't the only one who made Toys for Joy such a success. The drive brought out the generosity of 19 businesses and organizations and dozens of individuals around the New York City area, including members of CAMBA's Junior Board.

"We're so grateful for what all of our donors have given to these kids," said Elizabeth Stephens, Senior Program Manager at the Flagstone Family Center. "This is what every child's holiday should be like."


givingInclude CAMBA in Your Year-End Giving and
Help Transform Lives
Hungry New Yorkers line up for emergency food at CAMBA's food pantry


treeHoliday Lights Dazzle at Park Slope Women's Shelter

Once again, CAMBA's Park Slope Women's Shelter is shining bright for the holidays. A bundled-up crowd of shelter residents, community members and CAMBA staff gathered on a snowy December evening for the shelter's 18th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.


With snow falling outside and the cheery tones of the Peace of Heart Choir filling the shelter's lobby, the mood was pitch-perfect for an evening of celebration. It was a time to ring in the season and thank the many volunteers who give their time, energy and services to the shelter throughout the year. 


This year's thanks went out to Teresa Agrillo, Alice Braziller, Dexter Lewis and the Emmaus Pathfinders Band, Sydelle and Stephen Gansl, Park Slope Resurrection Church, Ann Rosen and Jay Toole. Shelter staff also recognized some of their own, along with a group of residents who recited original poetry before the crowd.


CAMBA Board Member Rev. Dan Ramm further set the holiday mood with a few words. "It's a time for light in every tradition ... and light shines around the world," Ramm told the crowd.


Everyone then made their way outside onto Eighth Avenue for the main event, the lighting of the tree and shelter decorations. Cold hands clutched hot chocolate and cookies, the choir sang again and all took in the lights. The night ended with a bang from the drummers of Dexter Lewis and his band.


aidsdayCAMBA Community Gathers for World AIDS Day
An interpretive dancer with Hopes Alive, Inc.

For some at the Flatbush Dutch Reform Church on December 1, it was a chance to remember, but for all, the day was about awareness and celebration.
The church's main hall was full with CAMBA clients, staff and community members who had gathered for CAMBA's annual World AIDS Day program. The event, co-hosted by SUNY Downstate's Star Health Center, included lunch, a performance program, HIV and HPV testing and health resources from partner organizations.


After a buffet lunch served by CAMBA staff, the crowd turned its attention up front for performances by CAMBA clients and guests sharing poems, songs, personal stories ... and even dance. Members of Hopes Alive, Inc., a local organization that uses theater to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug addiction, took to the stage for two powerful interpretive dances.


The event also featured an AIDS Awareness Tree, decorated with garlands of condoms. The tree was the work of residents at CAMBA womens' shelters, some of whom have been personally affected by HIV and AIDS.


Patricia, a resident at Magnolia House Women's Shelter who helped decorate the tree, lost her mother to AIDS in the 1980s.


"Working on this brought back a lot of memories," Patricia said. "I love seeing the tree here today."


CAMBA provides a range of services for individuals and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, including case management, prevention, training and education, counseling and supportive services, advocacy and transitional and permanent housing.