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CAMBA Connection March 2013

Hometown Success Talks Careers with CAMBA Youth


For students in our Learning to Work (LTW) programs, career success is the goal. This month, Mia Hall, Community Manager for Barclays Center, stood before a group of LTW teens at Brooklyn Academy High School in Bed-Stuy, tracing her own path to success and hoping to impart some wisdom along the way.

Hall talked about leaving East New York as a teenager to go to college at Hampton University, followed by graduate work at Harvard and NYU. She answered questions from her young audience about how she stays consistent in her work (surrounds herself with the right peers) and how she manages her time. "I always write things down," she told them.

CAMBA's LTW programs provide high school students with support services--including paid internships--to help them move toward a high school diploma and future success.

Hall stressed the importance of connections in building a career--how she met the right people, stayed in touch and eventually turned her relationships into professional opportunities.

The young people at Brooklyn Academy HS that day saw Mia Hall's success for what it was: a possibility for their own bright futures.


This Spring, Choose How to Show Your CAMBA Love


Coming up this spring, there are almost as many ways to support CAMBA as reasons to do it.

Up first, on April 23, the CAMBA Young Leaders Committee is hosting a Party for a Pantry. It'll be an evening of food, drinks and a raffle at Fat Buddha on the Lower East Side and a perfect way to learn about CAMBA and support our food pantry's Spring Food Drive.

Two weeks later, on 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.

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.

That's what's in store this spring. We look forward to seeing you at one (or all!) of our upcoming events.


With Special Guests, Women's Shelter Residents Celebrate... Being Women


Miss Cosmopolitan Kira Kazantsev with PSWS Director Faye Merolla

In honor of Women's History Month, clients and community members gathered at CAMBA's Park Slope Women’s Shelter for their own special Women's "Herstory" Month evening of poetry, songs, dance, art and fashion.

The keynote speaker was Kira Kazantsev, currently Miss Cosmopolitan (representing the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester), who will be competing for the Miss New York title in the Miss America contest. In front of shelter residents and guests, she related her experience with dating abuse and domestic violence, and encouraged her audience to keep fighting for a better future.

The shelter honored Alice Braziller, a teacher who has been volunteering there for more than four years, teaching always-popular poetry workshops.

During the festivities, the shelter unveiled woman-inspired multi-media artwork, created by clients and staff. The whimsical three-dimensional piece, painted in pink, represents items that women use in their daily lives – combs, makeup, high heels and even a bra.

* * *

“Who can keep a good woman down?” Carol Maraj (below, center) asked an audience of about 25 formerly homeless women at CAMBA’s Magnolia House shelter.


“NOBODY!” the women chorused, breaking into applause.Ms. Maraj – better known as the mother of superstar Nicki Minaj – spent a recent afternoon at the shelter, sharing her own story of overcoming domestic violence and inspiring and empowering women who are struggling to change their lives. Ms. Maraj, whose foundation supports her passion for helping women, promised to return to Magnolia House to sponsor outings, plant flowers and offer beauty treatments for clients.

“It was inspiring because she chose our shelter,” said A.P., a Magnolia House resident, about Ms. Maraj’s visit. “It took a lot of courage to tell
her story.”


BP3D Presents at National Conference on Health Disparities


The Brooklyn Partnership to Drive Down Diabetes (BP3D) took a trip uptown this month, for the Fifth Annual Health Disparities Conference at Columbia University. BP3D was chosen to present in a panel entitled "Models for Addressing Obesity and Diabetes Disparities Among Adults and Children."

Kimberly George, BP3D Program Director, gave a 45-minute presentation on her program's work to reduce and prevent diabetes and obesity in Central Brooklyn and East New York. George gave a rundown of BP3D's efforts, including workshops, fitness classes, social media marketing and one-on-one case management. She also presented results showing participants' improved fitness and nutritional knowledge and George shared an in-depth look at the program's methods, with detailed results from its marketing campaign focus groups.

Learn more about the Brooklyn Partnership to Drive Down Diabetes here.


Volunteer Profile: Dustin Jennings

King University, Bristol, Tennessee

Dustin Jennings (center) with King University classmates at the Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry

Where are you from and what are you studying at King U.?
I am from Gray, Tennessee, about 40 minutes from King University. I’m working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Psychology.

Why did you want to spend your spring break in NYC volunteering with CAMBA?
I wanted to come back to New York a second time and see what had changed at CAMBA since I was here two years ago. I was so inspired by the staff and volunteers the last time and had a blast here.
What did you do at CAMBA? Was there one very memorable experience?
I worked in the Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry. I enjoyed spending time with Luci (the pantry director) and she reminded me how every staff member here has so much passion about what they do. I loved getting to meet the new people at the food pantry, too. Doing a food drive in Park Slope was a very memorable experience.
What else did you do in NYC? What were your favorite (non-CAMBA) things from the trip?
I went to the Top of the Rock (which I also did two years ago). That was a great experience. I went to Dave & Buster's, where the arcade was a blast. And I saw The Phantom of the Opera and a Knicks game, both of which I had never done before.
When you came to NYC for the first time, were there any huge surprises?
I was surprised at how big the city was. I was so overwhelmed, and it was such a rush of adrenaline the first time I stepped out of the subway. I knew it was going to be a great trip.
How has volunteering with CAMBA affected you?
Volunteering with CAMBA has helped me realize how diverse NYC is. People are so different there from where I live in Tennessee. The living conditions are also so different. Volunteering has allowed me the privilege to meet people I never thought I would be able to meet. It has produced many lifelong friendships, not only with CAMBA, but also with the groups I have gone with both times. It has overwhelmed me how big CAMBA is, compared to the nonprofit organizations at home. I love what CAMBA does and how it impacts the lives of so many people in such a big city.
What do you want to do in the future?
I want to go to graduate school to become a physical therapist.  Seven years from now, I hope to be married and have a job that will help me provide for my family.

I want to thank CAMBA and all of its members for allowing the King University group to come up each year and help out. We come to impact CAMBA, but each time we’ve been here, CAMBA has impacted us greatly. We thank you for all that you all continue to do.


Employee Profile: MaryLou Martinez-Mazzia

Supervisor, Workforce Development


What’s your role at CAMBA and how long have you worked here?
I’m a Supervisor with Workforce Development. I’ve worked for CAMBA since 2008, starting in the Eviction Prevention Unit as a Client Advocate and then as a Career Advisor in Workforce Development.
Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in NYC?
I grew up in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico. I’ve lived in NYC since 1984.
Talk a little about your day-to-day at work---how do you spend your time?
A day at workforce is full of clients in need of motivation, direction and good advice. We assist them with job readiness training, resume building, specific trainings in security and customer service; and then we assign them to a job developer for a job search. It is a fast-paced and dedicated environment and, with the help of great career advisors, instructors and job developers, it becomes a safe haven for those looking for employment.
Tell about a memorable work-related experience you’ve had.
Helping a client who had been abandoned by his parents and was living with a distant relative become self-sufficient, find his confidence and gain employment. He is now going to college for computer technology, has moved out on his own and has a full-time job as a Supervisor in a Security Company. That is my motivation to do what I do every day: helping one person at a time.
How has your work changed the rest of your life? (Do you treat people differently?)
I have always been interested in helping people, and since working at CAMBA and seeing how many people face so many challenges on a daily basis, it has reinforced my belief that with an open mind and patience, even the most difficult situations can be addressed and hopefully improved. I treat people equally and with respect.
What other profession have you always wanted to try (or what do you plan to do in the future)?
I would love to be a high school guidance counselor.
What is your favorite spot or thing to do in New York City?
New York City is simply too full of excitement and wonderful places to call one a special favorite. I enjoy the parks and especially walking and seeing the variety of people and things that make this city the best.
If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
I would like Julia Roberts to play me in a movie because she is such a talented actress and would portray me sincerely and to the best of her ability.
What would you like colleagues to know about you that they probably don’t already know?
I love to make people laugh and laughter heals the soul. Smiles are free to share.

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