On Friday, October 21st, joined by staff, clients, and partners in local government, JCCA cut the ribbon on its beautiful new office in the South Bronx.
Carrying banners, bullhorns, and pom poms, JCCA foster parents led the Bronx staff in a symbolic march from the former office to the new space, a block away. Elected officials and a JCCA foster family joined CEO Ron Richter and Chair of the Board Barbara Salmanson under a balloon arch for the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon. The crowd then made their way upstairs and packed into a light-flooded room overlooking the Bronx skyline.
Lorraine Stephens, JCCA’s Chief Operations Officer, served as emcee. “This day has been long in the making and I’m overjoyed that it’s finally come,” she said. “JCCA came to the South Bronx more than two decades ago. After all these years building connections with people and organizations in the area, we’ve become an integral part of this community.” Stephens was followed by Anthony Robinson, a current JCCA Youth Coordinator who first came to JCCA’s Bronx office years before, as a young man looking for support and guidance. Robinson described the response of clients seeing the new space for the first time: “When families and kids walk in, their faces say: ‘Wow! This is for us?’ And we say, ‘Yes, this is for you.’”
Board Chair Barbara Salmanson took the stage next, noting the 20-year history of JCCA’s Bronx operations. “When we first moved to this area it represented a choice to meet clients in their own communities, and to become members of those communities ourselves,” Salmanson remarked. “This lovely new office represents our intention to be around for the long term.”
Pride was visible on CEO Ron Richter’s face as he spoke about the new office: “This space incorporates everything JCCA stands for: innovation, quality, openness, and care. In their first weeks working in the new office, so many staff have spoken about the light, about the views, and about the open feel. Forgive me, but these metaphors are hard to resist. We mean to be a light in this neighborhood and in the lives of every client who passes through these doors. We seek to open our hearts to their pain and challenge, and to their aspirations to move toward a better tomorrow. Looking out over this Bronx panorama, it’s possible to imagine that there’s no hard boundary between our office and the community to which we belong.”
The program was capped off by remarks from phenomenal partners in government. Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson expressed her confidence that the new office will serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for local youth. Following his remarks, Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who grew up in the area, presented JCCA with a Proclamation from the City. Assemblymember Amanda Septimo, acknowledging the bad press the neighborhood often gets, noted that her experience of the area has been quite different. “The South Bronx is a community made up of people who love each other, who show up for each other every day in ways big and small,” she said. “And that’s what you at JCCA and Mott Haven Community Partnership do, too.” DSS Commissioner Gary Jenkins remarked on the love he felt in the room and pledged the support of the City. ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser spoke with empathy for the families that interact with the child welfare system and expressed gratitude at JCCA’s dedication to making them feel welcome, understood, and supported.
With the speeches concluded, guests took tours of the facility and enjoyed refreshments in the new staff café. The event was also covered on the evening news!