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CAMBA Connection March 2012

Flatbush Community Members Gather to Discuss Needs of Local Youth

CAMBA Connection, March 2012


On Thursday evening, March 8th, 200 community members made the trip to a Flatbush elementary school to have a say in their children's future. They were there for a town hall meeting for the Flatbush Promise Neighborhood Initiative, a federally-funded effort to plan cradle-to-college-to-career services for Flatbush children.
Parents and community members spent the first part of the evening listening to organizers from CAMBA and the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College describe the planning process---and the role the entire community will need to play. A number of local elected officials also voiced their support for the initiative that would serve their youngest constituents and their families.Then for the remainder of the evening, attendees split into workgroups to identify the neighborhood's existing services and most pressing needs.

In December, CAMBA was one of 15 winners nationwide of a national Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant. This town hall meeting was the start of a process over the next few months, when CAMBA will work with the Center for the Study of Brooklyn and a host of community partners to plan services and apply for a highly competitive implementation grant to make the plans a reality.

"We could change the way that Flatbush looks and operates," said Marjorie Momplaisir-Ellis, Program Director of the Flatbush Promise Neighborhood Initiative, in a recent NY Daily News article. "We could transform this neighborhood from a community of need to a community of excellence."

Learn more about the initiative at


Spring Food Drive Kicks-Off with a Southern Touch

CAMBA Connection, March 2012


Every March and April, the shelves of the Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry get a much-needed restocking during CAMBA's Spring Food Drive. And every year, the drive gets going with an extra boost from a group of charitable college students from Tennessee.

For a week in the beginning of March, 16 students from King College in Bristol, Tennessee spent their spring break here in Brooklyn with the sole purpose of helping out at our programs and offices. This year---the fifth we've had the Southern helpers---five of them worked at the food pantry, helping to get the Spring Food Drive off the ground.

"The kids were great," says Lucila Santana, Project Coordinator at the pantry. "They wanted to work every minute."

While the entire two months of the drive is a valuable time for the pantry, this single week stands out. The students provide the extra bodies, and energy, to get some much-needed extra work done. This year, among a host of jobs and duties, they distributed flyers in local neighborhoods for a special home-pickup week---when community residents can donate food from their front porch or stoop. The students papered local cars, signs and porches with 500 flyers and the week brought in 531 items of food.

Now in its second month, the food drive continues, building off the energy from that week in March. Here's how you can help for the remainder of the drive.


Leading To College Program Takes High-Schoolers on Grand Campus Tour

CAMBA Connection, March 2012


On an overnight trip through Maryland and Washington D.C. this month, a group of Brooklyn high-schoolers got a look at college life outside New York's city limits. On March 16th, 23 students from the School for Democracy and Leadership in Prospect Lefferts Gardens boarded a bus before dawn and set off on a whirlwind tour of Georgetown University, Howard University, Morgan State University and Loyola College.

A part of the Leading to College (LTC) Program, the trip gave the local students---who otherwise might not have a chance to visit out-of-state schools---a glimpse into college life in general and, specifically, at what it's like to go away to school.

Leading to College is a joint program between CAMBA and College Now at Brooklyn College, with support from the Teagle Foundation, to help economically disadvantaged students at the School for Democracy and Leadership prepare for college life. The program provides pre-college and college-level academic instruction, social support, financial aid assistance and organized college visits for disadvantaged students and their families.

"Leading to College is a national model," says Annie Bezbatchenko of the Teagle Foundation. "Partnerships like this one focus the talents of high schools, colleges, non-profits and foundations on a critical goal - helping students reach college and excel once there."

In April, Leading to College students at SDL will continue their visits with a trip to SUNY New Paltz and the University of Albany.



Employee Profile: Stephanie Purnell

Program Manager,
Broadway House Women's Shelter

What is your current position and program and how long have you worked at CAMBA?
Program Manager at Broadway House Women's Shelter. I have worked for CAMBA 16 years come April 22, 2012.

What other positions, if any, have you held at CAMBA and at what sites have you worked?
I started as a Residential Aide back in 1996 at Park Slope Women's Shelter, then I was promoted to Shift Supervisor. In 2003 I became Director of Security & Operations at Broadway House... and now I'm program Manager.

What part of your job do you find most rewarding?
Helping others.

What are two important things that you have learned while working at CAMBA?
Patience and fairness.

Why do you do what you do (your job)?
It is rewarding and it is an opportunity to share what I have learned from others at CAMBA.

What one thing would you most like colleagues at CAMBA to know about you that they may not already know?
That I am very sensitive.

Where did you grow up? Are you originally from New York City?  If not, how long have you lived in NYC?
I grew up in Harlem.  Yes I am originally from NYC.

What are your favorite styles of music?
Classic R & B.

If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
Phylicia Rashad, because she is a strong, powerful women and I see many qualities in her that I see in myself.

What is your favorite spot or thing to do in New York City?
I love BBQs (LOL).

Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Brooklyn?
I don’t have any special place.

What profession other than your own would you like to try out?
School Counselor.

What is your favorite story about life in New York City?
So many stories... One of my favorite is as a teenager, I was able to take part of an Upward Bound Program at Columbia College. The experience I had was very rewarding and I wish I could relive those times. I was able to attend seminars in the evening after school at Columbia, attend classes on Saturday and have access to campus life because we were given a Columbia ID card. The best part was earning all that for working hard.

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