Nearly 10 years ago, in the summer of 2008, I began my first job after college as a program associate at Association to Benefit Children (A-B-C) in East Harlem. Entering the real world unsure of what career I wanted to pursue, I leapt at the chance to have a two-year fellowship at a community-based nonprofit in New York City.
That decision was life-changing.
A-B-C is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in East Harlem whose mission is to defend every child’s right to a joyful and nurturing childhood. Founded in 1986, the nonprofit has built replicable model programs that serve vulnerable children and families in New York City. The range of services A-B-C provides is inspiring. Building on its preschool education programming, the organization offers an array of wrap-around services designed to serve the whole family. This includes, for example, ESL classes, after-school youth programming, parenting skills workshops, job training workshops, information and support for recent immigrant families, mobile mental health services through its Fast Break clinics, and intensive therapeutic case management for families dealing with the foster care system through All Children’s House.
My primary role as a program associate was to become intimately familiar with A-B-C’s programming and to assist in collecting data and reporting outcomes in order to track program success and support grant applications. Through this work, I also learned about A-B-C’s history of advocacy: fighting for inclusionary education for preschoolers with disabilities, ending “boarding” babies in hospitals, and fighting for supportive housing for formerly homeless families with HIV. The experiences I had at A-B-C inspired me to go to law school so that I could learn how to become an advocate.
As a litigation associate at Proskauer, I have had the chance to take on several pro bono cases, including representing a young mother in a custody and visitation battle, drafting an amicus brief on behalf of the Innocence Project in a case where the client’s conviction was ultimately reversed, and assisting a permanent resident in obtaining citizenship.
This summer, I had the distinct honor of joining A-B-C’s junior board, and I feel like I have come full circle. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the organization that gave me my start, and so proud of the meaningful work everyone at A-B-C does to protect the children and families of New York.
To learn more about A-B-C visit www.a-b-c.org.