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CAMBA Connection June 2013

CAMBA Food Pantry Grows Local with Hydroponic Farm


It may be hard to imagine now, but these tiny sprouts are the future dinner salads for clients at our Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry. And the infant lettuces will grow tall and lush without the help of sunlight or soil, right inside the pantry’s walls.

Since April, the Bushwick-based Boswyck Farms has taken over a piece of our Flatbush pantry to build a hydroponic farm---a soil-less growing system that will feed CAMBA clients and serve as a resource for the local community.

The farm is funded by the United Way of New York, through a Seed Grant for Urban Farming. The grant is designed to turn unused space into food-producing space and to expand community outreach services for nutrition education and wellness. The pantry’s hydroponic farm will do both, building on existing community programs with an array of opportunities planned for the coming months.

“It’s going to be a good learning experience, in and out of our pantry service,” said Lucila Santana, CAMBA’s Project Coordinator of the food pantry. “We’ll connect with the community through volunteer opportunities, open houses for school kids, food demonstrations and even free classes on hydroponics.”

Pantry clients will help with farm maintenance, and Santana says they’re looking forward to getting involved… and to their new, very local salad ingredients. “Some clients are really hyped up about it,” she said.

Pantry staff planted the farm’s first seeds earlier this month (Romaine and Bibb lettuce to start), and they’ll order more seeds soon, so a variety of veggies will be in the farm’s future.

For now, see photos of the farm’s construction (and first planting!) on our Facebook page, and stay tuned for news on classes, demonstrations and other opportunities to get involved.


Celebrate Summer with CAMBA and the Cyclones


We're teaming up with the Brooklyn Cyclones this summer for two great events.

On Thursday, August 8, we’ll be out at MCU Park in Coney Island for CAMBA’s third annual Night at the Ballpark. Join us to cheer on the Cyclones from our field boxes or a catered luxury suite. Either way, your ticket will support our services to 45,000 New Yorkers each year. Learn more and buy your tickets here.

And coming up this Saturday, June 29, we’ll be one of the benefiting organizations in the Cyclones’ Take Your Base 5K, also in Coney Island (the race ends at home plate in MCU Park). There’s still time to sign up to run or walk for CAMBA or support one of our team members in the race. 


Students and Parents Rally to Save After-School


Hopeful children rallied at Brooklyn schools this month in last-minute appeals to keep their after-school hours filled.

On June 12, in the Flatbush schoolyard of P.S. 139, children from the CAMBA Creative Kids after-school program carried handmade signs and chanted to save their program, which has been slated to close under the City’s proposed FY 2013-2014 budget. They were joined by students and parents from the nearby CAMBA Kids Connection after-school program at P.S. 249, also on the chopping block.

“The after-school programs at P.S 139 and P.S 249 are essential in helping the families and children of our community learn and grow,” said City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, who spoke at the rally.

P.S. 139’s CAMBA Creative Kids program currently provides after-school homework help, educational and recreational activities and dinner to 215 elementary students. P.S. 249’s CAMBA’s Kids Connection after-school program serves 199 children.

Council Member Vincent J. Gentile spoke at a second rally at P.S. 170’s CAMBA Kids Unite after-school program in Bay Ridge, scheduled to lose half of its current enrollment of 220 children.

“A lot of bad things can happen if we don’t have after-school,” said Zion, 7, who attends the P.S. 139 after-school program. “Parents may have to quit their jobs to pick up kids at 2:30.”

Citywide, more than 31,000 children have been slated to to lose their spots in after-school and summer-break programs under the proposed cuts. This week, after months of advocacy campaigns and vocal pleas from students and parents, the City Council reached an agreement with Mayor Bloomberg to restore the proposed cuts, though the Council hasn’t yet voted on the final budget.


Vote for 97 Crooke Avenue in National Magazine Contest


We are proud to announce that CAMBA Housing Ventures' 97 Crooke Avenue has been named a finalist for the Affordable Housing Finance 2013 Readers' Choice Award.

97 Crooke Avenue is a state-of-the-art affordable and supportive building in Flatbush that empowers people in need and helps them achieve independence. And now our worthy building needs your vote to go all the way and win the national award.

To vote, first subscribe to Affordable Housing Finance's free online magazine by June 30 (if you’re already a subscriber, you’re one step ahead). Then, vote for 97 Crooke during the voting period, between July 17 and August 16. We'll send a link for that soon.


Employee Profile: Shaneka Gulston

Project Director, Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention


What’s your role at CAMBA and how long have you worked here (include any past positions)?
I have been with CAMBA for a little over 6 years. I began my journey on April 23, 2007, with Teen RAPP (Relationship Abuse Prevention Program), as a Teen RAPP Social Worker. In July 2011, I was promoted to Project Director of the CAMBA’s CAPP (Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) initiative, for which we work in various middle and high schools in the Brownsville/Ocean Hill and East New York areas, educating youth ages 11-21 and the community about adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in NYC?
I was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and I still live there. 

Talk a little about your day-to-day at work---how do you spend your time?
In my day-to-day role as Project Director of Peers and Choices (which is what we call our CAPP initiative), I supervise two amazing and talented Health Educators. I visit various schools in our catchment area to inform school officials about our program, in hopes of engaging their students. From time to time, I also conduct parent and community workshops. I work on reports for the program; attend meetings to further youth awareness around sexual health education and other issues. I also lead a quarterly Community Advisory Council for the Brownsville/Ocean Hill community around adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

What part of your job do you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of my job is spending time with my staff in the classrooms, educating youth about their sexual and reproductive health. It’s great to see youth become empowered to make informed decisions that will affect their lives. I also thoroughly enjoy our summer program, where we hire 10 youths to be Peer Leaders in adolescent sexual and reproductive health education. This is when I am able to spend direct time learning and growing with the youth we serve!

Tell about a memorable work-related experience you’ve had.
The most memorable work-related experience I've had is ongoing. Being able to witness the growth, hardships and triumphs of the young people I’ve worked with---and the appreciation they have for me, and I for them---has moved me beyond words. 

How has your work changed the rest of your life?
As my personal life reflects my professional life, I have always carried a love for helping others through counsel, which is why I became a social worker. My professional values and ethics are not far-removed from my personal life, so I can be genuine in the service I provide in both worlds. Because of my work experience, I have grown more affectionate in working with young people.

What other profession have you always wanted to try (or what do you plan to do in the future)?
As a young child, I wanted to be a lawyer, but I quickly changed to wanting to be a child psychologist. My creative and more explorative side dreamed of being an interior designer or wedding planner. I am currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, so I came fairly close to my childhood aspirations.

What is your favorite spot or thing to do in New York City?
I don’t have a favorite spot in the city, but during the summer, I love to explore museums, parks (Central, Prospect, neighborhood parks, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, etc.) and summer concerts and other activities. I love that New York is rich with culture.

If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
I would love Jennifer Hudson or Gabrielle Union to play me in a movie portraying my life. I just love and respect them as celebrities and as good people. I believe they are both great role models for women and girls, and I relate to their life stories.

What one thing would you like colleagues to know about you that they probably don’t already know?
I was big on athletics growing up. I was on the JV basketball team in high school, and I loved to play volleyball and handball any chance I got. I even won medals for track in elementary and junior high school!

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