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CAMBA Connection April 2013

New Grants Boost CAMBA Small Business Services


To salute a recent grant from Carver Community Development Corporation, three CAMBA Small Business Services (SBS) entrepreneurs joined CAMBA and Carver representatives at the NASDAQ closing bell ceremony earlier this month.

Carver awarded CAMBA a $10,000 grant that will enable SBS to train 20 additional potential small business owners, many of whom live and work in distressed areas---and whose success will bolster their communities.

Blondell Pinnock, President of the CDC and VP of Carver Federal Savings Bank, and CAMBA President and CEO Joanne Oplustil rang the bell that signaled the end of trading for the day and heralded the gift that will provide more opportunities for CAMBA’s future small business owners.


CAMBA SBS was also recently named a finalist in the NYC Economic Development Corporation's (NYCEDC) Competition THRIVE, designed to generate business plans that will address the challenges faced by immigrant entrepreneurs.

SBS was awarded $25,000 to run a six-month pilot program: "Mobilize Your Business: Using the Tablet for a Competitive Edge." The program will cover the all the basic functions of the iPad for immigrant entrepreneurs, including points of sale, translation functions, bookkeeping, direct sales, tracking inventory, digital marketing and mobile video conferencing.

At the end of the six-month pilot, NYCEDC will award an additional $100,000 to the finalist with the greatest potential for expansion.

“CAMBA is honored to be recognized as a finalist in Competition Thrive,” said Joanne M. Oplustil, President and CEO of CAMBA, Inc. "We are grateful to Competition THRIVE for enabling us to test new strategies to help fledgling businesses boost revenue and drive down costs.”


Two CAMBA Events Right Around the Corner


This Sunday, May 5, get fit for summer at our Healthy Way 5k Run/Walk in Prospect Park. The fundraising race is sponsored by EmblemHealth and will be a great way to get moving with CAMBA staff and friends and show your CAMBA love for three miles in the beautiful park. Here are the Top 5 Reasons to Join the Healthy Way 5k.

Then on May 16, join us at the opening night cocktail reception of our Annual Shona Benefit Sale. The Thursday evening at our sculpture gallery will feature a ceremony honoring four special CAMBA supporters and clients. You can also purchase a hand-crafted sculpture from Zimbabwe (proceeds supporting our programs), ahead of the public weekend sale on May 17 and 18.


Help Save Our After-School Programs from Budget Cuts


Each spring, more than a few CAMBA staff and clients face a bleak, and very real, possibility: losing their program to City budget cuts. This year, CAMBA's Out of School Time (after-school and summer camp) programs are in particular jeopardy.

Two of our long-standing after-school programs are slated to close and four others to lose valuable spots. In all, if the City Council doesn't restore $1.2 million in funding, 612 CAMBA children will lose a place to stay engaged and learning after school while their parents earn a necessary living.
Programs like these are saved only with the public, vocal support of people who care. Take a moment to learn about the Campaign for Children's advocacy efforts---and lend your voice to the campaign.


CAMBA Young Leaders Committee Raises $3,000 for Food Pantry


CAMBA’s new Young Leaders Committee did one solid for CAMBA's Emergency Food Pantry on April 23, with a spirited fundraising party at the East Village's Fat Buddha Bar.

The evening proved that this group of young professionals is helping to expand CAMBA’s network of friends, being a force for good—all while having a fun time. They drew a lively standing-room-only crowd and stayed late into the night to enjoy food and drinks, listen to music, chat with old friends and make new professional connections.

Through ticket sales and raffles, the event raised almost $3,000, which will be used to stock the shelves of CAMBA’s Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Program and provide enough healthy groceries for 2,700 meals for New Yorkers in need. The pantry provides emergency food for more than 5,000 individuals every month.

Dominic Rovano told guests that he got involved in the Young Leaders Committee because, “it's personally very rewarding to know you’re having a direct impact on the lives of so many people.”

CAMBA Young Leaders Committee; Left to Right: Kristian Breton, Diana Fassbender, Nicholas Trum, Erin Marucco and Dominic Rovano

Want to know more about this dynamic group? Email for more information.

Tuesday, April 30, is the last day that the Feinstein Foundation will match donations to CAMBA’s food pantry. Please click here and make a gift today, take advantage of this match and make your dollars feed even more hungry families.


CAMBA Employee Gets Published!


Congratulations to Michelle Montgomery, CAMBA Evaluation Manager for Prevention Services and Health Homes, on her recent paper about immigrant depression.
Michelle's paper, which addresses the relationship between persecution of immigrants in their home countries and depression here in the U.S., was published last month in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Read more about it here.


Employee Profile: Gail Thompson

Operation Coordinator, Scattered Site Housing Program


What’s your role at CAMBA and how long have you worked here?
I am the Operation Coordinator at 19 Winthrop Street Scattered Site Housing Program. I started with CAMBA as a WEP worker in 1998 at 885 Flatbush Avenue, and I have also been Receptionist at 19 Winthrop St., Overnight Manager at Winthrop Houses and Per Diem Shift Supervisor for Atlantic House Men’s Shelter, Park Slope Women’s Shelter and Magnolia House.

Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in NYC?
I grew up in Brooklyn. I’ve lived here for 24 years. I was born in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Talk a little about your day-to-day at work how do you spend the time?
My day-to-day is exciting and challenging. I spend most of my day solving clients’ issues, locating apartments for clients and housing them. I am also responsible for all 130 leases in our Scattered Site Housing Program (Operations Dept.), making sure all leases are up to date and submitting them to fiscal for rent payments. I also have many more duties.

What part of your job do you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of my job is when I see clients progressing---especially when I had something to do with it. Making a client smile is the ultimate reward.

Tell about a memorable work-related experience you’ve had.
The most memorable experience I’ve had was when I visited a client’s apartment and noticed outstanding repairs not done by the superintendent. I called the management office several times, but I saw no results. I had to do something about it. I couldn’t renew that lease knowing what the client was living with. The most touching part was when the client told me her son was ashamed to bring his friends home from school, because of the dilapidated conditions---that did not sit well with me. I have a son myself. I told the client I will relocate her to another apartment once the lease was up. She was delighted. The client and her son are now living happily in another apartment.

How has your work changed the rest of your life? (Do you have a different perspective outside of work? Do you treat people differently)?
Definitely, my work has changed the rest of my life: I have learned to be humble and kind. I do have a different perspective outside of work: I have learned to appreciate life and be grateful. I have to give credit to CAMBA shelters for my life-changing experiences. As a per diem Shift Supervisor, I appreciate tremendously what I learned there. Understanding a variety of personalities in CAMBA shelters has taught me how to do my day-to-day job efficiently and effectively. I also want to give some credit to my job, as Operations Coordinator, which I love dearly. I love solving the daily operations issues, working in the field tackling the many tasks and challenges.

What other professions have you always wanted to try?
I would have loved to try being a bus driver or corrections officer.

What is your favorite spot or thing to do in New York City?
Shopping and eating.

If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
Angelina Jolie. She gets the job done.

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