Sylvia Bloom, photo via the New York Times.
If you’re looking to start your week on a high note, take a few minutes this morning to read about Sylvia Bloom in the New York Times.
The legal secretary from Brooklyn, who died a couple of years ago at the age of 97, has left the Henry Street Settlement $6.24 million for youth scholarships.
It really is a remarkable story. Not even Bloom’s closest friends and relatives realized she had amassed a fortune by investing portions of her secretarial salary so wisely. The executor of Bloom’s estate is Jane Lockshin, Bloom’s niece and the longtime board secretary at Henry Street, the 125-year-old Lower East Side non-profit. Here’s more from the Times:
“I realized she had millions and she had never mentioned a word,” recalled Ms. Lockshin. “I don’t think she thought it was anybody’s business but her own.” Ms. Bloom’s will allowed for some money to be left to relatives and friends, but directed that the bulk of the fortune go toward scholarships of Ms. Lockshin’s choice for needy students. Ms. Lockshin… called (Henry Street’s) executive director, David Garza, and asked him if he was sitting down. “We were all agape, just blown away,” recalled Mr. Garza… Mr. Garza called the gift “the epitome of selflessness,” and a fitting gesture by a woman to the settlement, which was founded in 1893 by the public health pioneer Lillian Wald.
The contribution is the largest single gift by an individual in the settlement house’s history. It will go to support the Expanded Horizons College Success Program, which helps disadvantaged high school students get into college and make sure they are prepared to succeed. You can read more about the program here.
Another $2 million from the state will go to Hunter College and to another scholarship fund to be announced.
UPDATE 5/8 Here’s more from Henry Street Settlement. The $6.24 million donation will be used to create The Bloom-Margolies Scholarship Fund. It was established in memory of Sylvia Bloom-Margolies, her husband Raymond Margolies and her sister Ruth Bloom.
“Due to the magnitude of the gift, we are creating an endowment,” explained Henry Street’s David Garza. “The funds generated will provide support annually – and in perpetuity. Ultimately, thousands of low-income young adults will receive the vital support they need to succeed in college – and in their lives – because of this generously transformative gift.”
The endowment will support college scholarships and support other aspects of The Expanded Horizons program. The program offers college counseling, SAT prep, tutoring, college visits and continuous support to participants throughout their college careers.
Anyone looking for inspiration in dealing with life’s setbacks would have been assured of finding it at Henry Street Settlement’s Workforce Development Center this past Thursday evening.
In an uplifting celebration, several clients shared their remarkable success stories. They’re all featured in a new “Wall of Fame” at the workforce center, located at 99 Essex St. In one way or another, all of them have overcome huge personal challenges to land good jobs, some of them right here on the Lower East Side.
Dennis Burgos served time in federal prison, and even afterward, had trouble keeping a job. Burgos enrolled in Henry Street’s Job Essentials Training program, which offers career coaching and training services. The lead employment coordinator, Jay Koo, explained Burgos, “pushed me to the edge” and “changed my whole way of thinking.” The Lower East Side resident landed a job with L+M Development Partners, utilizing construction skills he picked up in prison. Burgos has been working on the big Essex Crossing project for the past two years.
Another client, Ana Lisa Cuevas, relocated from Queens with her three young children and was reeling from a domestic violence situation when she decided to get help. Cuevas found career advice, but also she said, “a lot of emotional support.” She eventually found a job as a customer service agent at Top of the Rock and plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. Referring to the workforce development center team, Cuevas said, “They helped me so much, I felt like Superwoman. I can take care of my home, take care of my kids, have a job. They give you that power to go out and do what you’ve got to do.”
Growing up on the Lower East Side, Jalique Mazyck said, he got caught up with “street crews to survive,” and was dealing drugs. He reluctantly enrolled in Henry Street’s Youth Adult Internship Program, which led to a job with a leading fabric firm. But Mazyck fell back into his old ways, was arrested, and faced a potentially long prison term. Henry Street connected him with legal aid, and helped Mazyck get back on track, personally and professionally. He got a job with Zara, earned a promotion within six months and will soon be trained as a team leader.
The “Wall of Fame” is one of several projects initiated by Henry Street Settlement’s Community Advisory Board. For the first time last year, the organization set aside funds ($5,000) for a participatory budgeting initiative. The advisory board invited different departments to pitch their ideas to enhance their programming. Nine clients are profiled, sharing their comeback stories in a collage hanging on the wall of the Workforce Development Center.
During last week’s unveiling, Lisa Tomanelli, director of employment services, told the honorees, “We’re inspired by what you do every day to get here, to stay here and to keep coming back. You’re inspiring all of the clients who have yet to come into this building.”
David Garza, Henry Street’s executive director, said, “Our mission here is to open doors of opportunity to people who we serve.” The settlement house’s employment programs serve around 2,000 clients each year and place more than 600 people in jobs. “We could not be more proud,” said Garza, “that each of you has invested in yourself, has seized the opportunity when the door opened to make the most of it, and to parlay that into success.”
You can see a digital version of the “Wall of Fame” below. Click here for more information about Henry Street’s employment programs. The 125-year-old settlement house is a founding member of the Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN), a consortium of eight local workforce development centers. LESEN is holding a Training Fair tonight from 6-8 p.m. at 301 Henry St.
If you’re interested in joining the Community Advisory Board, see this page on Henry Street’s website.
Henry Street Settlement “Wall of Fame” by The Lo-Down on Scribd
Park Avenue Armory. Photos by Cesarin Mateo for Henry Street Settlement.
If you appreciate art and the contributions made by the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side, you might consider heading up to the Park Avenue Armory for the Art Show this week. The venerable event, which benefits one of the neighborhood’s oldest social service organizations, celebrated its 30th anniversary at a Gala Preview Tuesday evening.
The nation’s longest-running art show is hosted each year by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). There are 72 leading galleries exhibiting works through this coming Sunday. Among those spotted at the gala this week were actor Steve Martin, director Woody Allen, actresses Stephanie March and India Ennenga and the visual artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly).
It’s a big year for Henry Street Settlement. The organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary, preparing to launch a new historical project (The House on Henry Street) and embarking on a major renovation project — the transformation of a shuttered firehouse into the Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center.
The Art Show has raised more than $30 million for Henry Street over the years. The local non-profit’s executive director, David Garza, said, “Our Art Show partners – the ADAA, the Park Avenue Armory, the committee, the event sponsors, the Henry Street Board of Directors and team members, and all who support the event – coming together have an enormous impact on improving the lives of vulnerable New Yorkers. The Art Show is the Settlement’s largest fundraiser, and it vital to our work of opening doors for individuals and families when they need us most.”
Artnet News featured some of the more interesting exhibitions.
For more information about the Art Show, including ticket details, click here.
Here’s something for Lower East Side history buffs. Henry Street Settlement is looking for volunteers interesting in taking part in a focus group for a new history walking tour app.
The app is part of new historical project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you’re willing to take part, you’ll get a Henry Street coffee mug, plus free refreshments. The focus group takes place Thursday from 3-5 p.m.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with WALKING TOUR in the subject line.
Photo courtesy of Henry Street Settlement.
Henry Street Settlement is announcing today that it has completed the purchase of a former firehouse at 269 Henry St. The three-story building, located next door to the social service organization’s headquarters, will eventually be home to Henry Street’s local resource center and parent center.
The property was transferred from the city yesterday, after Henry Street Settlement paid $1. Back in 2014, we told you about renovation plans for the 143-year-old building, which were expected to cost $5.5 million. The facility will become a kind-of “front door” for the organization, one of the oldest and largest non-profit institutions in New York. Henry Street has been working to acquire the building for more than a decade.
The firehouse was closed following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Engine Company 15, which operated from the building, was moved to Pitt Street. The new facility will be named the Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center at Henry Street Settlement. Renovations are being made possible by the Burch Foundation, along with other donors.
The new space will be handicapped (and stroller) accessible. Community members will be able to access free legal and financial counseling, benefits screening and enrollment in food stamps and affordable health insurance. It’s also where Henry Street will offer its parenting workshops and classes.
“We are eagerly anticipating this critical addition to the Settlement,” said Henry Street Settlement Executive Director David Garza. “Traditionally an anchor for the community, the firehouse will again play the role of ‘first responder’ for families in crisis – this time ADA-compliant and accessible to all.”
The center is expected to open in the year 2020. The renovation is being overseen by the architectural firm, Beyer Blinder Belle. Next year, Henry Street Settlement will celebrate its 125th anniversary.
Rendering of Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center at Henry Street Settlement. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.
Coming up on Sunday, Henry Street Settlement is hosting a town hall meeting to find out what issues matter most to people on the Lower east Side.
The event takes place from 3-6 p.m. at 301 Henry St. Dinner will be served. Translation services will be available in Sapnish and Chinese, and there’s also childcare for anyone who needs it.
See the Facebook invite for more details.
Photo via Democracy Now.
Controversy is brewing over an appearance at Henry Street Settlement next week by Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour. She’s one of the speakers at the Lillian Wald Symposium, which this year is titled, “Immigrant New York: The New Majority.” The CUNY School of Public Health has also faced criticism for inviting Sarsour to serve as commencement speaker this year.
There’s an open letter today in The Jewish Press from Rabbi Zvi Romm of the Bialystoker Synagogue to David Garza, executive director of Henry Street Settlement. The Lo-Down asked Henry Street for a response. This afternoon we’re publishing both statements in full. First, Rabbi Romm:
Dear Mr. Garza,
I hope you are well. I’m writing you with regard to the upcoming ‘Lilian Wald Symposium’ on ‘Immigrant New York: The New Majority,’ to be held at the Abrons Art Center on May 16th. The Henry Street Settlement is proudly promoting Linda Sarsour as a panelist at the symposium.
We, the members of the Bialystoker Synagogue, are happy to be next-door neighbors of the Henry Street Settlement. But we are profoundly disturbed by the fact that our neighbors have given Ms. Sarsour this platform.
Ms. Sarsour has been an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement, seeking to damage the State of Israel economically. She has declared that one cannot be a Zionist and a feminist, as Palestinian women are oppressed – ignoring the many, many abuses of women’s rights which are rampant in the Arab world surrounding Israel. She has tweeted that a young Palestinian boy going to throw stones at Israeli soldiers is the ‘definition of courage.’ She has stated that there is ‘nothing creepier than Zionism.’
We, who love and support the State of Israel, are appalled by these positions and statements. By giving Linda Sarsour such a prominent platform, we feel that the Henry Street Settlement is indirectly expressing its tolerance of these anti-Israel positions.
We feel that it is incredibly important that the Henry Street Settlement clearly and unambiguously state that it does not endorse Ms. Sarsour’s positions on Israel and Zionism. As Israel marks its sixty-ninth anniversary, we would greatly appreciate a statement from Henry Street Settlement celebrating the State of Israel, the only full democracy in the Middle East.
Rabbi Zvi Romm.
And Henry Street Settlement’s response:
Since its founding, Henry Street has been an institution characterized by its openness to all voices and a place where ideas, some considered controversial, are exchanged. We fervently believe that if we only speak to ourselves, without listening to other viewpoints, learning will not occur and progress will not be made. In fact, the opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives is one of the intentions of the Lillian Wald Symposium.
The decision to include Linda Sarsour as one of the panelists at our upcoming Symposium, Immigrant New York, the New Majority: Policy, Politics and Programs is being challenged by some individuals and groups. They are calling for us to rescind our invitation to Ms. Sarsour. That would be anathema to our history as a champion of freedom of speech.
An invitation to participate in a program or forum at Henry Street is not an organizational endorsement of the views held by any of our guests. Our panelists – Shanna Castillo, Director, Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability, NYCHA; Zeinab Eyega, Executive Director of Sauti Yetu Center for African Women & Families; Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council; Philip Kasinitz, Ph.D., Presidential Professor of Sociology at CUNY; Baseera Khan, a 2017 Abrons Artist in Residence;; Bitta Mostofi, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; and Linda Sarsour, Racial Justice/Civil Rights Activist – were selected based on their experience with respect to one or more facets of immigration or immigrant communities.
The Symposium’s topic – Immigrant New York – will not include discussion of Israel, Zionism, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and will be focused on the subject of immigration in New York City.
The Lillian Wald Symposium, our second annual, is intended to create a forum for meaningful discussion on a topic that is relevant to our constituents and stakeholders. We will also be providing immigration services resource material directly to the community at the event.
You can learn more about the Lillian Wald Symposium here.
Archival photo: Henry Street Settlement’s summer camp.
Henry Street Settlement has received a coveted grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to tell its own story. The NEH awarded the historic Lower East Side social services organization $360,000 for a permanent exhibition called, “The House on Henry Street: Settlements, Public Health and Social Reform.”
Here’s more about the initiative from a press release put out earlier today:
This extraordinary multi-platform project will explore social activism, urban poverty and public health through the lens of Henry Street’s history. Its centerpiece will be a permanent interactive exhibition in the Settlement’s c. 1830 landmarked headquarters at 265 Henry St. A web-based exhibition with curriculum materials for high school and college teachers will deepen the interpretation, and a walking tour app for mobile devices will take the story to the streets of the Lower East Side. In addition to the exhibition on the first floor, the entire headquarters – the historic dining room, Lillian Wald’s original bedroom, the garden and nurses’ dorm rooms – will be labeled and interpreted, enabling visitors to not only learn the Settlement’s history, but also to tour the modern-day working social service agency. A public historian will be hired for 18 months, and will create public programs of interest to the Settlement community, one that has traditionally lacked access lacks to the humanities, and others. The project will be the centerpiece of Henry Street’s 125th anniversary which the Settlement will celebrate in 2018.
In a separate news release, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez said, “The funding provided by NEH will reaffirm and support Henry Street’s longstanding commitment to bringing the humanities to underserved communities…Henry Street has a long track record of expanding educational opportunity in our neighborhood and this grant will help further that mission.”
It is, of course, an anxious time for social service and arts organizations nationwide, since the Trump administration is threatening to de-fund many of the agencies that support their work, including the NEH.
Seward Park movie night is back as part of their outdoor summer series, in partnership with Seward Park Conservancy, The Metrograph Theater and Henry Street Settlement. Starting at dusk, enjoy a screening of Wreck-It Ralph on Tuesday, August 16th. The screening is free AND popcorn is provided. Bring your own picnic and a blanket or chairs.
If you prefer your movies indoors, the Metrograph has a plethora of screenings from Disco and the Movies to Roald Dahl Weekend Matinees. Check out the schedule here for a full list of screenings.
Steve Martin. Photos by Alex Escalante.
The Art Show Gala Preview is definitely an uptown event, but the Lower East Side still plays a starring role. This is because the annual event at the Park Avenue Armory benefits Henry Street Settlement.
Among the guests perusing works from 72 galleries Tuesday evening was comedian Steve Martin. New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham was there to capture the scene.
The show is coordinated by the Art Dealers Association of America. It’s open for general admission through Sunday. Hours are noon-8 p.m. today and Friday;noon-7 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $25. Tickets are available here or at the door. The Armory is located on Park Avenue at 67th Street. Ticket sales as well as auction proceeds benefit Henry Street’s many programs on the Lower East Side and throughout New York City.
Good Companions Senior Center.
It took almost a decade to complete, but everyone was all smiles at the Good Companions Senior Center Friday for the unveiling of a new ramp leading into the facility.
The center, located at 334 Madison St., is in the Vladeck public housing development. It’s run by Henry Street Settlement. Back in 2006, City Council member Rosie Mendez paid a visit to the Vladeck Houses, noticing that the ramp was very steep. “That incline was bad on my knees,” she explained, “so I know it had to be a challenge for our seniors.” The first round of funding for the project came in fiscal year 2008 from both Mendez and the Manhattan Borough President’s office. Over time, Mendez allocated about $965,000 for the project. The ramp was redesigned and there were, of course, the usual NYCHA bureaucratic delays.
On Friday, Mendez was joined by City Council member Margaret Chin, NYCHA officials, Henry Street Settlement head David Garza and Nancy Ortiz, tenant association president of the Vladeck Houses. As part of the project, new lighting was installed alongside the ramp. More improvements are ahead at the senior center, including ADA-compliant bathrooms and a revamped kitchen. “This is going o be an incredible center when it’s complete,” said Mendez, “and that’s what our seniors deserve.”
The Good Companions Senior Center is part of a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC).
Rendering of new Neighborhood Resource Center, 269 Henry St. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.
The Henry Street Settlement is preparing a major upgrade of its Lower East Side facilities, including the renovation of an historic firehouse, creating a new Neighborhood Resource Center, and the transformation of the amphitheater at the Abrons Arts Center. Fundraising for the project, which now carries a $20 million price tag, is nearly complete. Henry Street is a little more than $3 million away from achieving its goal.