When David Sante of Brooklyn, New York was just nine years old, a Children of the City outreach counselor visited his mother, who was a single parent. He didn't know his real father. "My Mom just loved it," said David. "To hear that someone was willing to grab her four kids and take them for a Saturday morning . well, she agreed to that." Soon thereafter, David and his siblings made this community organization their second home.
The group serves the children and families of Southwest Brooklyn, and has for more than twenty years. Families have overcome welfare and poverty, substance abuse, plus lifestyles of violence and gang activities. And many of them are are now pouring their own time back into the community and volunteering. Once he was a teenager himself, David began volunteering. He wrote and performed rap music with value-based lyrics that reiterated the principles that he learned from programs like the organization's Future Safe Program.
One out of three Brooklyn, New York families today lives below the poverty line. With more than 17 thousand cases of child abuse in Brooklyn, and a 48 percent high school drop out rate, community organizations like this offer hope for help. Of the 30 thousand students, 15 thousand are dropouts.
Not only are there are drugs, disease, gang violence, and crime, but there are also around a thousand deaths annually. "I decided eight years ago to join the Board of Children of the City to help do something about these statistics," said Rocco Basile. "All of this is happening in Sunset Park, and there are thousands of kids in need of education and intervention, and families in need of help and guidance.
" Many of those who volunteer for the charity agree with Basile that kids at risk can be resilient if they are given the right intervention and education. This volunteer-based organization is making a difference by connecting people in need with basic services, education, employment training, health care services, counseling, and even food. During the recent 2007 holidays starting with Thanksgiving, voluteers like Basile went to different food distributors and asked them to donate turkeys and canned foods. Enough food was obtained to feed about 800 people, which they helped deliver. During Christmas, volunteers spent three nights in a row of gift wrapping with the help of 89 volunteers from a number of organizations throughout Brooklyn, as well as out of state. There were more than 44 volunteers from Ohio and Virginia who helped the charity make visits to over 745 kids.
Now 36 years old with a family of his own, David provides tech support for a living, and credits what he learned in his childhood with helping him learn the principles for success that helped him rise above the effects of poverty that surrounded him as a child. He broke through the perils of a gang infested neighborhood, learned to have perseverance, hope, and most important of all, he learned to believe in himself.
Writing about non-profits for over 20 years, Kristin Gabriel has taken an interest in the work being done by Children of the City (http://www.childrenofthecity.org) and the Joe DiMaggio Committee for Xaverian High School and their Board Member Rocco Basile.