JCCA Videos

Check out our News video appearances here!

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: Graduation 2016

JCCA Child Abuse Alert PSA

Meet Our CEO: Ronald E. Richter

Central Park Five members visit JCCA

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: Graduation 2015

Volunteer Dinner 2015

Understanding and Dealing with Cyber-bullying

The Compass Project

9 Adoption Myths, with Ametz Director Kathy Ann Brodsky

Meet Our Staff: FHS’s Patricia Baca, LMSW

Meet Our Staff: BDA’s Cherise Littlejohn

Meet Our Staff: KGHYC’s Rabbi Ilan Ginian

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: Graduation 2014

Arts in Action 2014

Volunteer Dinner 2014

Bukharian Teen Lounge

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: 2013 Graduation

The POINT Program

Bukharian Teen Lounge: Bukharian Lens Interviews WWII Veterans

Compass: Theater for Action 2013

 

 


 

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: Graduation of the Class of 2016!

 

 


JCCA Child Abuse Alert PSA

 

 


Meet Our CEO: Ronald E. Richter

 

 


Central Park Five members visit JCCA

 

 


Brooklyn Democracy Academy’s 2015 Graduation

 

Fifty-Six Students Graduate from Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a program of JCCA.  Thirty-five are going to college and 21 have jobs.

Fifty-six students graduated from Brooklyn Democracy Academy (BDA) June 25, 2015. BDA is a transfer school for older or under-credited students who have dropped out or fallen behind in other schools. It is a program of JCCA, a comprehensive child and family service organization helping children and families of all backgrounds.

Monei is one of the graduates. Despite having special needs and 2 young children, she is a very determined young woman and blossomed in the school. She was a dynamic student and mentor; earned an 87% GPA and took additional online classes. She also worked in the school’s Learn to Work Program at the Brownsville Recreation Center where she found support and safety for herself and her children. She is going to Medgar Evers College in the fall and plans to be a nurse.
According to Cherise Littlejohn, Program Director of the Brooklyn Democracy Academy, “Monei embodies the true spirit of resilience and shows that an person can overcome whatever cards they are dealt and strive for greatness.”

 


 

Volunteer Dinner 2015

 

 


 

Understanding and Dealing with Cyber-bullying

 

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Joanna Kibel: My name is Joanna Kibel. I am the Director of Social Work Practice and Staff Development for JCCA. JCCA is a large child welfare and family service organization.

With the advent of social media, cyber-bullying has taken on a much larger role in the lives of our children and families. If it’s happening online, it may also be happing to that young person in a more face-to-face way, and so we need to address both areas of bullying. We wanted Dr. Agatston to come in to speak to use about cyber-bullying so we had a better handle on how to handle cyber bullying and how to counsel our children and families.

Patrician Agatston: We started getting calls about things that were happening online. I can still remember the first call that I received from a mom saying, “there’s this website and my daughter’s posted information on it, and she’s asking kids to vote whether she should kill herself or not.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, is anyone telling her not to?” and she said, “no.” If she hadn’t been able to put that cry for help out there, and it hadn’t been seen, we wouldn’t have been able to intervene.

When we think about all the points to do with social media, sometimes it does allow opportunities for intervention that we might not have had in the past.

Let’s make sure we have the common definition of bullying. This is what a lot of the research has found, these three core elements: that it’s aggressive behavior, that it’s intentional and intended to cause harm or distress; it’s usually repetitive in nature; and the person who’s being targeted has a hard time defending himself or herself.

Who’s at most risk for bullying? Youth with disabilities, with any special needs and health problems, are more likely to be bullied. Of course, anyone can be bullied, but youth who are obese are at greater risk. And then, youth who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, or just Gender Non-Conforming, so bottom line, anyone who is in that realm of not acting how other students think that you should act as a guy or a girl, they’re at greater risk.

When you see bullying happen, step in everytime, or otherwise they see us as part of that group that says, “No big deal, that’s just the way it is.” And they take their cue from us, and that can contribute to less empathy over time.

You need a record, because the definition of bullying in schools [includes whether] it was repeated, and so if you don’t go to them until the third time- and now it’s really bad, and now mom or dad’s really upset, so then they storm up to the school and say, “this has been going on for months,” but it’s the first time the school heard about it.

If it happens, if they are cyber-bullied, help them collect the evidence, whether it’s through printing the pages, saving texts, or saving emails. There are various response options we can follow such as ignoring, blocking, deleting, and so it’s good to let them know the majority of those social networking sites like instagram and facebook and twitter and even snapchat have ways to report abuse.

I know there is more work being done to recognize the need of having school staff be trauma-informed well too, and understand that sometimes when students are engaging in that aggressive behavior, there’s something else that has triggered it, and recognizing those triggers and being able to try to pull that child in a more positive direction, and not just respond in a punitive direction. That’s what I would try to work with. If you know you have a child like that, try to help them identify what some of their triggers are. Share some of that information with the school so that [the school staff] can be part of the prevention and early intervention response, instead of jumping right into a punitive response.

(Applause.)

 


 

The Compass Project

 

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Amanda Leder, participant: My name is Amanda Leder, and I’m an associate teacher. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a learning disability, trouble reading and writing and doing math, and being able to make friends and socialize. Really, reading a book is really difficult for me.

(To student) Can you make a square?

Ralphe Freselone, parent: My name is Ralph Fresolone. I am married to my wife Jeanette. We have three children. Our youngest is Olivia. She was diagnosed early on with a pervasive development disorder. We had essentially two choices at that time: we could have either rolled up in a fetal position, or taken a more proactive stance to do what we can for Olivia. Obviously, we chose the latter.

Adam Kurmanchik, participant: My name is Adam. I’m new to the Compass program. I suffer from Autism, ADHD, OCD, and PDD. You might see some that don’t think properly. Some can’t talk. I was very, very lucky.

Matthew Kamper, participant: People that have autism can’t communicate as well with other people. They don’t socialize as well.

Elise Hahn Felix, program director: There is no mandate to take care of our young people once they finish high school. That’s 13 years of your life, and they have the rest of their lives to be part of society. So we try to help give them social skills and independent life skills, so that they can function and be part of their communities and really have happy, satisfying lives.

Kathy Sarfaty, employer: I would think that the biggest misconception is that people with disabilities are not capable of doing a lot of things, when they are capable when they’re taught.

Amanda: Two summers ago, I started off as an intern, and it led to a paying job.

Kathy: I worked with her all year last year, four days a week, and she was invaluable to me. It used to be she does whatever you’d ask of her to do, and now she knows what needs to be done and just does it. Her confidence has just blossomed, really blossomed. The more she worked, the more confident she became, and she’s been wonderful.

Elise: We do find that most of our young people are extremely hard working, and their attendance rate is fantastic. They’re very honest. Very rarely will somebody with autism lie, and those are attributes that most employers really value.

Jim Shaw, employer: We just know Olivia to be one of our team, and she’s been with us for quite some time. She fits in well, and she has her specific duties, and she takes care of them very well.

Ralph: They walked us through all of the processes of trying to get a job: phone calls, getting the résumé together, mock interviews. Very important. You have to plan. You have to administer and tend to their needs and be one step ahead of the person who is in a position to help your child.

Elise: Many of our people are brighter than you or me so i think that’s the biggest misconception: that they’re not smart. Many people with autism are extremely smart, and competent. We just have to key in and capture what it is they’re interested in and passionate about.

Adam: I enjoy working with the animals. But that’s not what I really want to do. What I really want to do is broadcasting.

Amanda: I like doing art projects with the kids and I like reading stories to them.

Matthew: I really want to be an office worker. I want to send out mail. So, I consider myself wanting to clerical work.

Elise: Through Compass Eats, where they’re going out to dinner, or the Theater for Action, they’re learning social skills while they’re participating in and doing these activities. We’re helping them be creative and self-expressive, and that all strengthens their communication skills.

Adam: Do you have a disability and have trouble finding a job? Compass can help you with that.

Matthew: Compass has helped me find a job significantly, and find my comfort zone and what it would feel comfortable for me to work in.

Amanda: Anything’s possible if you just commit yourself to it, and stay committed and keep on trying as hard as you can.

Matthew: Join Compass! It’s a great way to interact with different people. It’s a great way. If you need help with something, Compass is always there to help you with your problems if you need it. So, I would highly recommend Compass.

 


9 Adoption Myths Busted, with Ametz Adoption Director Kathy Ann Brodsky

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Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Hi, I am Kathy Brodsky, Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA. The Ametz Program has been helping individuals and couples adopt
domestically and internationally for over thirty years. The Ametz Program is part of JCCA, which offers a wide variety of services to children and families of all faiths and backgrounds.

There’s a lot of misinformation about adoption out there. This short video will help you understand some myths and realities of the process, and help you navigate the system.

Myth number 1: There are no kids to adopt.

Actually, there are children of all ages needing permanent homes. There are newborns being adopted through private adoption, toddlers and older kids being adopted through
foster care in the United States, and children of varying ages around the world.

Myth number two: it’s hard to qualify to adopt.

Every state and country has its own requirements for adoptive parents, including age and marital status. Singles and couples, older, LGBT, and those with medical histories: all
individuals have options available to them. It is important that an adoptive parent be emotionally, mentally, and financially stable, and have an understanding of adoptive parenting.

Myth number three: the adoption home study is intrusive.

Ametz has conducted over ten thousand home studies for singles and couples pursuing domestic and international adoption. A social worker will come to your home and discuss
many issues, including the actual adoption process and the kind of child you are looking to adopt. The home study is a dialogue between you and the social worker, as they help you to prepare to adopt.

Myth number four: adoption is expensive.

There are costs in every adoption, but there is an adoption in everyone’s budget. Private adoption typically costs between twenty and thirty thousand dollars. However, there are
grants and other financial resources, including loans, available to help adoptive parents through the process. For those where money is more of an issue, people can look at foster care, and adopt through
that program.

Myth number five: it takes a very long time to adopt.

No one can tell you how long it will take you to adopt. Depending on the type of child you are looking for, and the process that you choose, it can take anywhere from two months
to two years. The early steps include selecting an attorney or an agency, and a home study. This takes about two to six months. Once you have that approval, you can start looking for your child.

Myth number six: the internet has all the information I need.

The internet is a fabulous tool, but you never know who’s posting bad information. The adoption community has many resources and options. Do your research, and then contact
local resources to confirm what you have discovered. Not all options you find are appropriate or even legal in your home state.

Myth number seven: birth parents are untrustworthy.

The stories that hit the media are scary and sensational. The truth is that most birth parents are seeking a better life for a child. They want you to have the medical and family
history so that you can raise a healthy child. Talking to or meeting them, also gives you and them the peace of mind that this is the right match.

Myth number eight: if you tell your children they are adopted, they will want to meet their birth parents.

Every child has a right to know where they came from, and it is normal for them to want to know information. Wanting to know does not mean that they will go and search, but it is
important to give your child information in an age appropriate way. You can use pictures with young children, and add detail and more information as your child grows. Remember, you are the one providing
daily care, and you are the one that your child calls Mom or Dad, but they do need the information to understand how they became part of your family.

Myth number nine: adoption ends at finalization.

In fact, adoption is a lifelong process. Even after your adoption is final, it will ebb and flow in your daily life. Some days it will be more prevalent, and other days you maye even
forget. Many adoption programs such as Ametz provide more and more post-adoption services, including counseling, referrals, and even search assistance. When you have a question or concern, call and
ask for assistance.

We hope this information has been helpful for you. We wish you the best on your adoption and parenting journey.

 


 

Meet Our Staff: Patricia Baca, LMSW, of Foster Home Services

 

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Patricia Baca: My name is Patricia Baca, I am the program director of Foster Family Resources at JCCA. We handle the recruitment and retention of our foster parents.

We look for foster parents like Mr. and Mrs. Bethea, because we are taking these children from places that for some reason it’s not safe, or there’s something going on with their family, and we need to be able to tell mom and dad, “your son or daughter can’t be with you right now, but we’re placing them in a home where they’re going to be cared for, where they’re going to be loved. I’m everyday, in awe and have the utmost respect for our foster parents.

Curtiss Jane Bethea: I had no idea that there were so many kids that needed a home, and had no place to go. I’ve had pretty close to thirteen foster kids, in and out.

I have two biological children of my own, a son and a daughter. My first two boys are adopted, and my oldest son out of another adoption is in the Navy, and I have one little grandson. And I have adopted one more young man, my baby boy, which is Damitry, and he’s doing very well in school, and he got the most achievement award out of his school this year.

Patricia Baca: She and her husband are amazing foster parents. They are the epitome of what we want in terms of being foster parents for our agency and for our kids.

Curtiss Jane Bethea: It’s a hard role and you have your ups and downs, but whenever you take a kid in, you have to be committed. You have to. When this kid comes across your door, he belongs to you, and when they feel that they belong to you in their heart and in your heart, then you can get along with them and you can work with them. Even though they have problems, they will listen.

Patricia Baca: They are parents to our kids. They know that our kids that are coming are traumatized and they’ve gone through a lot, and they understand that. And they understand that, and they understand what it means to be a parent, and that they’re part of a team to help our kids to become the best that they can be.

Curtiss Jane Bethea: I’ve definitely enjoyed working with Patty. I really enjoy working with her, and her whole staff. She has an amazing staff.

Well, I think JCCA is very committed to their kids, and to their foster parents.

Patricia Baca: When I go to sleep at night it’s thinking our kids, my kids, because I think they’re my kids too, are in a safe place. I know that tonight they’re in a safe home, that they’re being watched out for, that someone helped them with their homework, that someone got them fed and got them ready for school. Those are things that make me say that I am happy with the work that I do, because I am finding people who are opening their homes and their hearts to these kids, and sticking it out when times get tough, and I think that that’s why we do the work that we do.

 


 

Meet Our Staff: Cherise Littlejohn of Brooklyn Democracy Academy

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Tyrique: My name is Tyrique, and I am currently attending SUNY Cobleskill. This is Ms. Cherise. She is the program director at BDA. To everyone, she’s a mother figure and she takes care of everybody in the school.

Cherise Littlejohn, Program Director: I sit here again like a proud mother, y’know? Tyrique is one of my many children at BDA. I am a parent of two biological children that I actually birthed in a hospital, and the others were born at Brooklyn Democracy Academy.

Tyrique:I’m the type of person who- I needed people to be on me to make sure that I had the motivation and I stayed focused, and made sure I did what I needed to do. And when I was at BDA, at any point in time when I slipped up, they would be right there.

Cherise: He knows better, and he’s doing so much better as a result. I’m really, really proud.

Tyrique:Everybody just tells me that I’m more mature than I used to be. I know that I became more motivated, less selfish, less lazy. I know that if I want things, I got to go get it, and before I came to BDA, it was: “y’know, it’ll come around,” or, “I don’t gotta work as hard.” But I got to BDA, and I worked hard, and I seen where working hard got me, and I’m going to continue to work hard in college and after college.

Cherise Littlejohn:I work really hard with the young people to make sure that they understand that they are role models. Whether they like to believe it or not, they are. I know that Tyrique will graduate, Tyrique will be successful, but I know he’s going to go on to do great things. I know he is.

Tyrique:I love you a lot, truly, and I appreciate everything you do for me and everyone else. But me as an individual, because you don’t have to do what you do, and you only knew me for so long, but you do so much, and it feels like I knew you my whole entire life, and I appreciate everything, and I will continue to stay in contact and always come to BDA and visit, as long as y’all are there.

Cherise Littlejohn:I thank you, and I love you too, Tyrique!

 


 

 


 

Meet Our Staff: Rabbi Ilan Ginian of Kew Gardens Hills Youth Center

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Rabbi Ilan Ginian: My name is Rabbi Ilan Ginian. I’m the director of the JCCA’s Kew Garden Hills Youth Center and this is Eli Dolman, an alumnus of the center. The center is a safe space for kids in the Kew Garden Hills neighborhood. The neighborhood itself is a Jewish Orthodox community. We cater to youth ages 14 through 19. We’re open nightly from 6 till 11 pm, or whenever the latest sports game ends. When Eli first came to the center it immediately showed all over his face his need for help. He wasn’t screaming or calling for it directly, but most certainly we knew we had to be here for him.

 

Eli Dolman: So it was a number of years ago I was in school when I first decided to come here because I wanted an escape from home. There was a lot of tension at home and I was dealing with a lot of issues on my own. So not wanting to be at home, I needed a care-free, judgment-free environment. I found that here at the center. I think that most of the kids would say that right when they walk through the door they feel accepted. They feel like somebody cares about them. They feel like this is a place where they can be themselves and I had that the first day.

 

Rabbi Ilan Ginian: The center gives a foundation to kids who are in desperate need of one. The entire purpose of the center is to fill the needs of the kids, the needs of the community, and the needs of each individual for who they are and who they can be. There is great potential out there, all over these streets.

 

Eli Dolman: When I first came to the center, I was battling with whether I wanted to finish school or not. I’m talking about high school. The center gave me the strength and the confidence I needed to keep on a path and stay focused on what was important. I was able to finish high school, I was able to do college – with honors. I graduated, and now I decided to go to law school, and I’m ready for my career to take off, and, in no small part, thanks to the center.

 

Rabbi Ilan Ginian: I love to see how the kids come in, and although sometimes it’s painful trying to get the initial growth going it can be very hard but it is incredibly rewarding to see the progress they make in the end. Eli, like I said earlier, is a bulb of potential just read to sprout. It nice to see a young man go from not being sure if he is going to graduate high school to currently being a law school student. It’s nice to see his great progress, his growth, the maturity, and all that he has done for himself. Awesome! Awesome! I’m extremely proud, extremely proud! We hope with have many Eli Dolmans here in the future! Extremely proud!

 

Eli Dolman: Five bucks every time you use my name.

 

Rabbi Ilan Ginian: There we go! (Laughs.)

 


 

Brooklyn Democracy Academy: Graduation of the Class of 2014!

 


 

Arts in Action 2014

 

 


Volunteer Dinner 2014

Transcript below for the hearing impaired.

Phina Geiger: Dear volunteers, thank you for helping take care of us. You will always be in my heart. By John.

Every single essay still moves me, that the children can really understand and appreciate what our community does for them, and I find very often that they really bring tears to my eyes.

Child: They will always be in my memory. I would never forget them. I hope that one day I will be there for someone else needing care like me.

Richard Altman: This event this evening is a celebration of volunteers. Volunteers are a critical, cricital addition to our campus programs.

Stephanie Spiegel: You are an endless army of caring, dedicated, and passionate individuals who show up, and show up, and show up, and yes, you change lives.

Child: I love you as my mentor and for being a great volunteer.

Barbara Mann: The children are truly thankful for what the volunteers do, but they don’t realize what genuine pleasure that means for the people who are volunteering.

Stephanie: They’ve enhanced my life enormously. They’re great kids with so much potential.

Child: My mentor means a lot to me for many reasons. One reason is because she cares for me. Another reason is because she me different things to me that I’ve never done or even eaten before. (Laughter.) My mentor Nancy is the greatest person you could ever meet, and that’s why my mentor means a lot to me. Thank you, Nancy, for being so patient with me.

Child: Volunteers are the best!

Child: My volunteer means the world to me. They mean someone will always care. They mean I am not alone. A volunteer means hope.

Richard: Volunteers come from the community, give of their time, give of their resources, give of their love, and help us take care of children that really, really need tremendous supports to have a chance to make it in the world.

Child: Every time I felt like I had no family that cared about me, my volunteer made me feel like I was needed of special. They did everything in their power to inspire us, to share with us, and turn my life and my cottage mate’s life around. They’ve always been there for us no matter what. When we’re down, a volunteer was there. When we were making a change, a volunteer was there. So that’s why my volunteer means everything to me.

Phina: It’s not about the gifts, food, and things that you bring. It’s about knowing that someone is there for me. What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal.


Bukharian Teen Lounge


 

2013 Brooklyn Democracy Academy Graduation


 

The POINT Program


 

Bukharian Lens Interviews WWII Veterans


 

Theater for Action: A Compass Production 2013