For Matthews Valdez, Children’s Aid was always a place to call home. His mother, a former Children’s Aid staff member, was a facilitator who trained many of our current employees working in Washington Heights. It was during this time that Matthews entered our services.
He began summer camp when he was 6, and since then has become an instrumental part of our community. In addition to summer camp, he also participated in our after-school programs at P.S. 5. He said his experience as a Children’s Aid kid is something he will never forget.
“I loved it,” he said. “That’s something I’m always going to appreciate.”
After growing up and realizing his passion for working with kids, he decided to come back and join P.S.152’s team as a facilitator and lifeguard. Even as an employee at Children’s Aid, he continues to find his experience as one that is rewarding.
Matthews aspires to one day become a Children’s Aid arts specialist, focusing on dance. His passion for dance started when he was chosen to participate in AileyCamp, where he learned tap, ballet, hip hop, west African, and jazz dance routines. After being in the camp for four years, he won a scholarship to take classes three days a week at the Alvin Ailey School. He says the experience helped him be the person he is today.
“Doing this made me feel more confident in myself,” he said.
Matthews continues to be a valuable asset to our community by “paying it forward” and helping kids in the community succeed and thrive.