Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York, a local human services nonprofit organization, says it has been committed, since 1929, to improving the well-being of children, families and people with developmental disabilities across New York City and Long Island, “so they can reach their full potential.”
Taressa Harry, the Guyanese-born told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that Little Flower was founded in 1929 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and continues its work in New York City through its flagship office in Brooklyn and headquarters in Wading River, Long Is.
“Our staff of over 500 people builds well-being by providing foster boarding home care, residential treatment care, adoption services, programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and medical and mental health services,” she said.
“Little Flower provides safety and security to more than 300 children who are unable to remain home by placing them with foster families who provide love, stability and a nurturing environment,” Harry added.
“Our partners are our foster parents, who receive extensive training to provide the best possible care to ensure the well-being of the children in their care,” she continued. “All children in foster care receive medical and mental health services.”
Harry said young adults in foster care participate in the “Preparing Youth for Adulthood” program, “which prepares young people for when they leave the foster care system.”
She said youth, ages 14-21, participate in activities and workshops centered around creating vocational training opportunities, job readiness programs and independent living skills.
Youths are also offered a youth leadership development program, “The Emergence ProjectSM,” to prepare them for the working world, Harry said.
She said the youths participate in hands-on workshops on various topics, such as resume writing and interview tips, which are hosted by partners in the local business community.
At the end of the program, Harry said the youths are offered internships at Little Flower’s partner’s companies “to help them continue to learn and grow.”
She said Little Flower provides residential programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities through 11 residences across New York City and Long Island, and a day habilitation program on its Wading River campus.
In addition, Harry said Little Flower offers a Family Care program in which individuals live with families in the community, “providing opportunities for growth and independence.”
At the Residential Treatment Center on the Wading River campus, she said Little Flower offers a “therapeutic environment” to about 100 children experiencing trauma, social, emotional or behavioral challenges, or are on the autism spectrum.
“They receive care from an integrated interdisciplinary treatment team of social workers, medical and mental health staff, child care and recreational staff and educator,” Harry said.
“Our clients benefit when they can see new possibilities for themselves and their families,” she added. “Whether that is through reunification, adoption, transitioning successfully into adulthood, gaining community and independence, or learning to overcome trauma, and managing abilities and disabilities, Little Flower’s essential frontline staff work closely with all our children, families and individuals with developmental disabilities, so they can reach their full potential.”
Harry said Little Flower was “proud of” its diverse staff, stating that it has employees from “all backgrounds and nationalities,” and that it does not track specific nationalities, such as Caribbean nationals.
However, some Caribbean nationals were willing to offer their views to Caribbean Life.
In quoting slain civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Vincentian Hyacinth Tyson, who holds a master’s degree in social work, said: “The time is always right to do the right thing.”
Jamaican Kemeisha Douglas-Gibbs said: “You have your good days and bad days. But, at the end of the day, you have to remember that the kids coming through our doors are coming with traumatic experiences, and we have to show them compassionate care and love.”
Barbadian Edison King said he saw himself as “very privileged to be able to be a part of an organization that provides quality service to those whom we serve – an organization that strives to empower the youth we serve to aspire to their full potential by way of their independent thoughts and actions while seeking permanency.
“It is kind of ironic that I joined the agency on the 30th of November, which is my country’s birth, Independence Day,” he disclosed.
Haitian Yardley Jean Calixte, a licensed master social worker (LMSW), said she has been working at Little Flower two weeks shy of 16 years.
“While I’ve occupied several positions during my time at Little Flower, most of my years were spent working as a case planner, and those are the years I’m most proud of,” she said. “Working one on one with families really gave me a chance to carry out the agency’s mission, which is transforming caring into action.
“Being able to advocate for parents to be given a second chance at raising their children gave me great pleasure knowing that children were achieving permanency,” Jean Calixte added. “The fact that I was entrusted with assessing children’s safety and well-being on an ongoing basis also reminded me of the importance of the work that we do.
“Making a difference in the lives of children one family at a time is the reason why I still do the work that I do,” she continued.
Harry said she was also “proud to support and elevate the work of Little Flower’s heroic essential workers.
“During my eight years with Little Flower, I’ve seen and heard countless stories of our staff going above and beyond to ensure the needs of the children, families and individuals with developmental disabilities are being met,” she said. “It is truly an honor to serve with such remarkedly selfless colleagues.”
Harry said Little Flower is currently accepting donations of gift cards for the young people in foster care for the holidays.
Anyone interested can email [email protected] to learn more and about other holiday-giving options.
Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York is located at 630 Flushing Ave., 3rd Floor | Mailbox #58 | Brooklyn, NY 11206.