Respite Bed Program Volunteers Deserve Their Medals
If there was an Olympic event in volunteerism, the dedicated people who help run CAMBA's Respite Bed sites would be bringing home the gold.

Last year alone, volunteers from 44 churches, synagogues and organizations gave almost 30,000 hours of their time to provide small overnight shelters for homeless adults from CAMBA's Gathering Place drop-in shelter.

They cooked and served 7,693 meals (all generously seasoned with dedication and kindness), spent the night and woke residents with a light breakfast in the morning before their return to the Gathering Place.

CAMBA celebrated these heroic volunteers at our 2016 Olympics-themed Volunteer Recognition Event this fall, held in Brooklyn's historic Plymouth Church.

"We salute your Olympian level of effort to transform the lives of homeless New Yorkers," said Yehudit Moch, who manages the Respite Bed Program. "You gave shelter and inspiration to the guests at your site."

About 2,000 people volunteer at the program's 17 shelter sites, but we always need more. If you are interested in volunteering with this program or learning more about it, click here.
The You Can Van and the Smart Cities Conference
At the end of September, the You Can Van, from CAMBA's HomeBase team, celebrated its one-year anniversary, and oh, what a year it has been!

Since the fall of 2015, CAMBA's You Can Van has used new housing data technology to reach out to over 9,000 people at risk of eviction. On the date of the one-year anniversary, Melissa Mowery, VP of HomeBase, was featured at the national Smart Cities conference where innovators from around the world shared ideas for solving urban challenges.  Mowery discussed the You Can Van data-driven approach to pinpointing families most at risk of becoming homeless, and connecting them to support before it's too late.

Other accomplishments worth celebrating are listed below:
  • Made 120 visits to serve residents at high-need locations
  • Attended over 50 community events
  • Enrolled almost 600 clients in HomeBase and (best of all)
  • Helped 97% of You Can Van clients avoid homelessness
Here's to another year with the You Can Van!
On Buses and Radios, Project ALY Promotes Acceptance of LGBTQ Youth
Parents play a crucial role in helping to keep their LGBTQ youth safe from harm. That is the core message of CAMBA's 2016 media campaign to encourage families to accept their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer children.

This year's campaign included ads at Brooklyn bus shelters and on iHeart Radio's Power 105.1. Popular DJ Angela Yee provided radio spots and video ensorsements, and the station featured online banner ads and promotions at its Powerhouse 2016 concert.

The ads are part of a larger multi-pronged effort by CAMBA's Project ALY (Accept LGBTQ Youth) to change parental attitudes, which includes educational workshops and parent groups.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students experience substantially higher rates of depression, bullying and substance use compared to their heterosexual peers, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national study. Familial acceptance  buffers this risk and is associated with reduced risk of health problems, including suicide and HIV.

Parents who have changed their attitudes help other parents through the process.

"It's hard. It's something you can't understand and you don't want to accept, but that's your child. You've got to love them -- that's the bottom line. That's your child, no matter what," said the mother of a transgender teen.

Project ALY is funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
 Collecting LEGOs, and Goodwill, for Families in Need
Alex Drogin, an avid LEGO builder who lives near CAMBA's The Kensington family shelter, became consumed with a mission to spread the joy of LEGOs to those who cannot afford to buy them. 

In honor of his Bar Mitzvah, Alex wanted to "do something that would use [his] imagination" and would give other children the opportunity to use their imaginations as well. 

Alex decided to donate his own LEGOs to the Kensington, and then, he went even further and collected LEGOs from his neighbors. Alex made a sign and sat on his stoop to spread the call for LEGOs up and down his street. The result weighs in at 200 pounds, looks like this  -- and is still growing:

"We ended up getting a total of 200 pounds of LEGOs!"
Alex plans to continue his mission to spread the joy of LEGOs to children throughout New York City's family homeless shelters. If you're interested in finding out more about his project, please visit

This inventive outlet of one boy's generosity demonstrates the warmth the residents of the Kensington neighborhood have shown towards our family shelter. 

City Council Member Brad Lander, another Kensington neighbor, has shown a similar big-heartedness that is offered en masse in the neighborhood. He recently penned this letter to the editor in Crain's in response to the newspaper's call for elected officials to show support for shelters in their own neighborhood (excerpted below):

"No one wants a homeless shelter in his or her neighborhood. And, of course, no one wants to live in one, either.

But we are lucky to live in a city that provides shelter to everyone who needs it. So those of us fortunate enough to have a place to call home are obligated-and maybe even blessed-to do our fair share.

As the nights get cooler, I hope all of us can remember that compassion, fairness and welcoming new neighbors are truly "New York values."

CAMBA is grateful for the outstanding support the Kensington neighbors have shown these families in need.
A Night Out at the Casino: CAMBA's Annual Gala Raises Over $500,000 for Programs 
Our CAMBA Casino Night Out is the highlight of of our year, and our 2016 gala was our most successful yet, raising more than $500,000 to help CAMBA build more homes and offer more programs in the upcoming year.

Honorees included JPMorgan Chase, a longtime CAMBA supporter and key funder for our newest development,  the 101-unit Affordable and Supportive Family Housing at Van Dyke in Brownsville, Brooklyn. David Walsh, Senior Vice President of Community Development Real Estate at Chase, accepted the award.

Dr. Barry Smith, President and CEO of The Rogosin Institute, received CAMBA's Making Brooklyn Better Award for his commitment to health care and the community. Rogosin, one of the nation's leading providers of health care for kidney disease, has worked with CAMBA for many years. Most recently, it donated computers and technical services to create computer labs in two CAMBA family shelters.

CAMBA Housing Ventures was the focus of the evening, which included a video on its history and development successes.

The gala included casino gaming, an auction, raffles, elegant food and cocktails and camaraderie.

CAMBA's iCARE Team Takes on Breast Cancer
On Oct 1, CAMBA's iCARE team hosted an event at a high school in Bed Stuy in conjunction with the New York State Netball Association geared at providing women's health workshops with netball players from ages 12-44. The iCARE team provided workshops on family planning, nutrition and how to give oneself a regular breast examination. In the end, several CAMBA's iCARE team came away with clients that were interested in receiving more of CAMBA services.

Netball, in case you were wondering, is a similar sport to basketball, but a player is not allowed to dribble and move at the same time. Incidentally, many more women than men play netball, so the iCARE team's workshops for this high school's team was well planned.

Venetta Vanhorne, iCARE Director, said of the event: "The ladies enjoyed the workshops, food and incentives that we prepared for them and everyone had absolutely great things to say about CAMBA and we are extremely thankful to all of you that pulled together with us to get our deliveries and checks in time."

Colleague Corner: Fanny Manning
Fanny Manning, Receptionist
iCARE, Healthy Families Home Visiting Program

When did you come to CAMBA?
I came to CAMBA in 1993. I was a VISTA volunteer for two and a half years at first and they hired me on.

Talk a little about your day-to-day at work---how do you spend most of your time?

I'm the receptionist for iCARE and the Healthy Families Home Visiting Program. I tell prospective clients a little bit about it about the program over the phone and then transfer the prospective client to a case manager. We work with helping pregnant women and children from the community; even if the client doesn't find a program within CAMBA's Family Support programs, we'll refer them to other CAMBA programs, or to other agencies.

We work closely with children; some of the clients might be afraid or worried about having their baby and our staff will help them to be less stressed or less afraid. We also do breastfeeding workshops for our clients and sometimes someone won't have clothes for their baby, so we get the clothes for them. We'll help with housing and with getting their food stamps as well. At the end of the program, we have a celebration and a little party for the participants. We'll give the children gifts. At Christmas we'll have a big party and Michael Mallon from 1720 plays Santa Claus.

Where did you grow up and what neighborhood do you live in now?

I grew up in North Carolina and I came to Brooklyn in 1965 after I finished school. I came here looking for work and I stayed with relatives at first. Brooklyn is where I've spent most of my life. I live in Flatbush currently. Every nationality that we work with in CAMBA, I am surrounded by; I live in this neighborhood.

What have been some of CAMBA's biggest changes since you started working here?
CAMBA has a lot more programs than they had when I started. In the beginning, I would go to different meetings and represent CAMBA. There were many places and events in the community where I would be sent to talk about our services. Now, they don't need me as much because they have a lot of people, but I still get calls from co-workers, asking me questions because I remember a lot of things about CAMBA off-hand.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite thing is helping people out. I've always wanted to do that. Doing what I do, you have to understand people because you'll run into people who have problems. They get upset because they have problems. I calm them down, and they seem grateful for the help.

CAMBA is all about comforting people and connecting people with resources. We show them which direction to go and I try to comfort and get help for them. This could be anything from job searches to legal help or immigration to finding food.
It's good to know people care about you. We understand each other; they don't want me to retire. CAMBA is like a home for me. I could have retired a while ago, but I wanted to keep working and helping people. I like helping people.

Has your work with a social services nonprofit changed your outlook on life outside of work? How so?

It's changed my life a lot. I've gotten much stronger in my life because I realized how to stand on my feet, take care of my family. CAMBA really helped me to be strong and become who I am today, take care of my family on my own.
Hillary (the woman who hired me) gave me a lot of strength. She used to come by and tell me to learn the phone, and then she'd keep walking [without offering any explanations]. I told myself, "I guess I have to do it." I thought I'd never get it straight, but I found my way through it and I did learn the phones. And now I see why she wanted me to do that: She knew that if I learned the phones, I would always have a job.

I've heard that you're a fantastic cook. What's one of your favorite meals to share?

I used to cook cakes and bring them in. I also make bread pudding and Spanish dishes. 


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