NYC Health+ Hospitals/ McKinney & CLACC-C host Caribbean Heritage Month

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Residents at NYC Health+Hospitals McKinney nursing home moving to the beat of Caribbean music at a recent Caribbean American Heritage Month celebration at their Brooklyn address.
NYC Health+Hospitals McKinney

On June 23, 2022, NYC Health+ Hospitals/ McKinney, a 320-bed post-acute care facility hosted a Caribbean Heritage Month Celebration event for residents in their beautiful summer backyard located at 594 Albany Ave., Brooklyn.

According to Director of Communications, Angela Cooper, the event, “Bridging Us Intergenerationally Makes Us Proud of Our Caribbean Heritage” was a collaboration with the Carlos Lezama Archives and Caribbean Culture Center (CLACC-C). CLACC-C volunteered to host an eight-week Soca aerobics program for the residents and based on the response the idea of recognizing Caribbean heritage was created.

David Weinstein, CEO of McKinney was proud to witness his residents dance routine but was more moved by a Bridging Ceremony where residents passed on traditional advice to the young performers in attendance by way of presenting them with stones of value. Each stone had a word written on it; after receiving the stone, each youth spoke of what the value meant to them. Weinstein stressed the importance of embracing and respecting the cultural diversity of his residents and staff, and how important it is to host these types of events. Programs like this have a direct impact and showcase NYC Health & Hospital’s ICARE values (Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect & Excellence).

Cooper shared, that Ann Whyte Akinyooye, chief nursing officer and Daveth Forbes, deputy executive director, expressed their gratitude and appreciation, and gave credit to CLACC-C for their amazing contribution through their “It Takes a Village” approach in the continuum of quality care McKinney gives to their residents.

Yolanda Lezama Clark the founder and President was on hand to see one of her many visions materialized. In addressing the audience, Ms. Lezama Clark reminded them about the significance of Caribbean Heritage Month and mentioned some of the trailblazers such as Shirly Chisholm and Colin Powell who have contributed to Caribbean Heritage Month. She too was amazed at the level of performance by McKinney’s residents, since they all are wheelchair bound. Lezama Clark also mentioned her father, Carlos Lezama who was a resident at McKinney which motivated her philanthropic efforts.

“We have been delighted to be included in these inter-generational programs at NYC Health+McKinney. We are eternally grateful to former Councilmember Mathieu Eugene and Council District 40 for the support of these activities, which are extremely important to the community,” said Clark.

Ms. Valerie Katz and Christine McLeod were the lead choreographers for the program. They were instrumental in preparing the residents for their dance routine.

The program was spearheaded by Angela Cooper, and Janet Larghi, director of Therapeutic Recreation.

Ms. Katz stated how amazed and proud she was to accomplish this program. It gave her the motivation and determination to share her expertise to the residents and she learned so much from them.

The evening culminated with the coronation of a Mr. & Ms. Caribbean Heritage. Ms. Caribbean Heritage is from Guyana and Mr. Caribbean Heritage is from St. Vincent.

The event began with a drum call by Josh Hinds, followed by the singing of the Black Anthem — Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Blood Line Dance Theatre performance, and the invocation by resident Casell Clarke.

The evening ended with a Caribbean styled menu for all residents and guests. Janet Larghi, director of Therapeutic Recreation, before a grand finale performance gave the vote of thanks.

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