The East Harlem Center Keystone Club has been a powerhouse in the Children’s Aid community when it comes to teen leadership. The program, part of the Boys and Girls Club (BGCA) service initiative, has given many teens in the East Harlem community the opportunity to become active in their community.
“It’s not just doing service for others,” said Midge Caparosa, the advisor for the group. “They are motivating their peers to do service as well.”
Not only that, but they are being recognized for their impact. The East Harlem Keystone Club recently received two awards at the BGCA Regional Keystone Conference for their hard work, dedication, and success for their service projects over the past year. Their Academic Success award recognized their work educating young children in the East Harlem community on asthma triggers and attacks and chronic absenteeism. Their second award was, naturally, for stellar community service.
The group of teenagers meets three times a week after school to think of innovative ways to engage their peers in community service projects. In addition to the education component of their service projects around key issues in the East Harlem community, the group would extend the invite to their friends at school to come and hang out at the center once a month on Friday evenings, for example, to listen to music while making cards for patients at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Most evenings ended with many of the teens playing basketball on the center’s court. Over the course of the year, the club engaged 1,700 youth through 14 different service projects, with each Friday drawing over 70 teenagers to center.
“These kids in particular hold a very special place in my heart,” Midge said. Many of her teens in the Keystone Club have been active participants at the East Harlem Center since kindergarten. Midge herself has worked at the East Harlem center for 28 years, a great reflection of the commitment to service and community she instills in her teens.
“They are learning the language of leadership,” Midge said. ”They are learning how to be community leaders and how to have a voice to create great change.”
Congratulations to Midge and all the teens at the East Harlem Center for representing Children’s Aid so well.