Supporting Survivors of Violence Through Advocacy

When a volunteer commits to NYJL’s Crisis Intervention project, she goes all in. These volunteers are first responders, on call twice a month to support survivors of violence when they arrive at New York Presbyterian Hospital, as part of its Domestic and Other Violence Emergencies (DOVE) program. Certified as rape crisis counselors by the New York State Department of Health, NYJL volunteers listen to clients’ stories, recommend resources, and present options so survivors can make informed decisions. They also clarify medical procedures and help survivors create a safety plan–all while ensuring patients’ rights to information, confidentiality, and privacy are protected. NYJL volunteers are problem solvers, working with law enforcement, medical staff, social workers, and direct service providers to help survivors get the care they need.

Violence appears in many forms: sexual, physical, emotional, economic, and psychological. Not only impacting survivors, violence can have reverberating effects on families and communities as well. Long after the abuse ends, survivors may continue to grapple with trauma, often resulting in learning disabilities, poor health, mental health challenges, substance abuse, and juvenile and adult crime. Violence breaks up families and ultimately costs taxpayers, while offenders, and the institutions that cover for them, escape this burden. 

NYJL has a longstanding history of city and state-level advocacy, working directly with communities to address these social challenges and to advance the health and well-being of women and children in the long term. 

In 2007, the NYJL partnered with the National Organization of Women (NOW) NYC to advocate for New York State’s first comprehensive anti-human trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), placing greater accountability on traffickers and purchasers and strengthening the defence for survivors of trafficking from prosecution for sex work. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the TVPJA into law in late 2015.

In 2008, the NYJL successfully advocated for New York State funding to support shelters for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.

In 2010, Alongside the Women in Prison Project, the NYJL began advocating for the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) to grant judges discretion when issuing sentences to survivors of violence who are convicted of crimes related to their abuse. Under this law, judges may order lesser sentences or send survivors to community-based programs instead of prison. Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law in May 2019.

And most recently, in February 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law,  extending the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. 

Join us Thursday evening, December 5, 2019, as we recognized the work of Crisis Intervention and four other community projects at Golden Tree, an annual, three-day holiday shopping and entertainment event. Golden Tree is among NYJL’s signature fundraisers to support our community projects, like Crisis Intervention, and ongoing advocacy for women and children. 

 

Spotlight on Performance Celebrates at End of Year Show

Educating children on the arts is a wonderful way to give them the opportunity to express themselves, build confidence and encourage self esteem. At the New York Junior League, the Spotlight on Performance committee enriches the lives of the children by exposing young girls and boys to the world of artistic expression and fostering an appreciation of arts.

The Spotlight on Performance committee recently closed the 2017-2018 academic year with an astonishing performance at the Grosvenor Neighborhood House YMCA: a musical review of Moana. The show was extensive, with elementary school students singing songs from the movie and dancing to the pop version of “How Far I’ll Go” in front of their families and friends. Throughout the semester, students had explored different themes from this musical with focus on marine life in Hawaii and history of animation. At the captivating post-performance party, the children proudly showed their creative drawings of the Hawaiian god and marine life to their parents.

The New York Junior League has established long-term partnerships with a broad range of community organizations that share our passion for improving the New York City community. Beacon to Broadway volunteers work with older children at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and use drama, dance, artistic projects, and music to inspire the young boys and girls to express themselves. The LIFT committee works with 12 to 18 year-old at-risk teens at Leake & Watts (now Rising Ground) to provide them with youth development workshops and mentorship. Volunteers from CHAMP and CHEF work with a variety of partners to help educate children on health and wellness and provide families guidance on how to make life-long healthy choices. Learn more about the organizations and programs we are proud to work with.

Jr. Junior League & Social Promise Teach the Principles of Philanthropy

On April 28, the Jr. Junior League committee partnered with Social Promise to host an educational event about principles of philanthropy to preschool and elementary aged New York children. Promoting family volunteerism is an important component of the New York Junior League’s vision to teach children at a young age about their future roles in helping communities in need.

The children were very engaged in the topic, talking about the difference between needs and wants. During the program, they learned that toys are part of the wants list, and not all children around the world have access to them. Using water bottles, caps and wooden sticks, the children made toys to donate to others. They dedicated their time and talents to create something meaningful for children in need.


Thanks to the Jr. Junior League committee and Social Promise for hosting this event! Interested in joining us for our next Jr. Junior League event?  Learn more here!

Teaching Kids Healthy Habits at Healthy Kids Day

The New York Junior League is committed to serving the New York City community, which includes the 1.5 million children living here today. On April 21, the NYJL was proud to partner with the West Side YMCA at its annual Healthy Kids Day.

The event focused on teaching young children about how to eat healthy and take care of their bodies, and was full of activities for all including, face painting, educational artwork stations, healthy snack packing and more.


Upon arrival, participants headed to the gymnasium. Along the way, they passed numerous rooms where adults of all ages were showing the kids fun ways to exercise and stay active. When they entered the gymnasium, they were greeted by NYJL and YMCA volunteers with bags of stickers and healthy snacks. Tables with activities and giveaways were located throughout, including ones featuring volunteers from the NYJL’s CHAMP and CHEF committees. These stations focused on educating children and families about their health and the importance of maintaining healthy habits throughout childhood and on into adulthood.

Thanks to the fun activities, there were no unhappy kids in sight — except when they had to leave!

Interested in learning how you can contribute to the community? The NYJL still has new volunteer orientation sessions taking place before summer begins. Sign up for one today to learn more about the work that we do and how you can help!

Volunteer Education on Overcoming Challenges Working With At-Risk Youth


Left to right: Volunteers, Hope Palladino of GOAL and Hannah Beswick of Reading Rangers with Lew Zuchman of SCAN – NY.

Volunteering as a New York Junior League mentor is a wonderful way to provide both life guidance and career exploration for youth that may be at risk of social, economic, or academic failure. Programs like SCAN and GOAL provide an opportunity for our youth to empower themselves by building confidence through various development programs. Working with at-risk youth can present its own set of challenges. Many of these youths have experienced a life filled with violence and homelessness, potentially making it difficult for them to trust new people. While the relationship building may be a slow process, the rewards are paramount.

During the recent Volunteer Education and Training (VET) event, Overcoming Challenges Working with At-Risk Youth, NYJL volunteers had the opportunity to meet and speak with Lew Zuchman, Executive Director of Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network (SCAN) New York for 31 Years, Hannah Beswick of Reading Rangers, and Hope Palladino, Treasurer of Girls Opportunity Advancement & Leadership (GOAL).


Left to right: Volunteer, Hope Palladino, Lew Zuchman (SCAN – NY) and Volunteer, Hannah Beswick

Over the course of the evening, attendees learned about SCAN’s history and the work they do in the community. Founded in 1977, SCAN is a non-profit youth and family service organization that provides a variety of integrated supports to the highest risk children and families of East Harlem and the South Bronx. SCAN currently serves over 7,000 children and teens, as well as, 1,000 adults and families each year at 23 program sites. It is currently the largest youth provider in East Harlem and South Bronx

In addition, Hope Palladino discussed GOAL work alongside Union Settlement Association to empower at-risk young women to explore higher education opportunities, including college and vocational education to delay pregnancy.

Panelists provided the below tips and techniques to help develop your capacity for skillful intervention, building a rapport, and understanding the complex difficulties children and families experience:

Be patient – Many of these at-risk youths have been hurt by people leaving time and time again. They may be suspicious of your motives as a volunteer. Be patient and allow the trust to develop naturally.

Go the extra mile – Arrive 15 minutes early or stay after an additional 15 minutes to spark a one on one conversation with a child that may not have felt comfortable speaking in the group atmosphere.

Be consistent – Mentoring and volunteering is a commitment. The best way to establish trust is to enable a sense of dependability. The encouragement and motivation you give will be better received by the youths if they feel as if they can depend on you to be present on a consistent basis.

Interested in improving communities through the effective action and learning more about volunteering with the New York Junior League? Join us for an upcoming new volunteer orientation!