Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

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Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

March 31, 2016

 The Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner brought together more than 150 CI volunteers, alumni, staff, community partners, and program participants to celebrate volunteer service in CI’s 27 programs that meet the needs of our low-income neighbors. We gathered at Barnard College to share a meal and honor the best within the CI community.  The theme of the evening, “One CI”, was displayed throughout James Room; pictures of volunteers in action were center pieces on tables and program banners hung around the room. Surrounded by this wonderful ambiance, we distributed awards to our best and brightest, shared stories with partners and collaborators, and listened to speeches that helped us view our work through a new perspective.

A full list of all 2016 VAD awards can be found here.

We were reminded by CI Board member and Alumna Nicole Gallant (CC ’00, SIPA ’09), Senior Vice President, United Way of New York City, that we cannot forget in our celebration of volunteers that service is not just a gift to others, but to oneself. As they end their time at CI, seniors Sharon Liao (CC ’16), Dalitso Nkhoma (CC ’16) and Katrina Martell (CC ’16) shared how they had grown from their experiences at CI. They all were keen to point out their personal connections to their volunteer experiences,.

This year, we recognized our energetic and collaborative partner, Principal Reginald Higgins and P.S. 125, with the David Joyce Award. His school P.S. 125 is home to three of our youth programs-Artists Reaching Out, America Reads, and Peace by PEACE.  Not only is Mr. Higgins striving to improve the lives of his students through unique programing, he has opened two rooms after school for our adult ESOL classes, thereby improving the lives of his students’ parents who were invited to join other adults in the community for ESOL classes. As Mr. Higgins said in his remarks “my children are allowed to have the same type of educational experience as someone in a more affluent neighborhood or community would have and that happens because of young people and your volunteers. So thank you so much for this honor, but thank you even more for your service.”

The final speaker brought us back to reflect on the experiences of those we serve. This year we heard from a TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion – previously GED, High School Equivalency Diploma) program graduate and College Road participant, Mohammed Islam, who, despite leaving off  his education in middle school, is today in community college, planning on becoming a doctor. CI’s programs have provided the path for Mohammed to take his passion and dreams and turn them into an achievable reality.