Strong Minds – Strong Homes (SMASH) is a volunteer-based effort that meets children and families in Sunset Park and connects them with services they might not otherwise seek out on their own. The goals of the Strong Minds & Strong Homes project are to:
- Build a healthy community by increasing connections between community members and service providers
- Empower parents to meet basic physical needs of their children by connecting them to food pantries, clothing providers, employment services, and other social services
- Equip parents to raise healthy children by training and supporting them by using healthy developmental strategies to raise their children, subsequently reducing incidences of abuse and neglect
- Increase educational opportunities for children by advocating at local schools and connecting them with supplemental academic programs
Volunteer Training & Mobilization
As a community-based agency rooted in the neighborhood we serve, Children of the City believes that mobilizing community members to work together for the good of the neighborhood is the most effective tool for transforming our community. Each year we train 50 volunteers, many of them residents of the community, who make a 12-month commitment to give 10 hours every month conducting outreach for children and families.
Initial Visits & Assessments
Children of the City conducts outreach to over 500 families in Sunset Park, interacting with more than 900 children each month. During the initial visit, volunteers make preliminary assessments, noting the living conditions and any salient issues affecting children in the home. Volunteers also gather contact information, and provide families with information about services Children of the City offers along with other local service providers.
Advocacy & Referrals
Because so many of Sunset Park’s children live in poverty, advocacy often includes working with parents to address areas ranging from challenging landlord neglect and abuse, to helping parents secure proper food and clothing for their children. Linguistic and cultural barriers often prevent families from accessing much-needed services for their children. Once the needs of children and families have been assessed, our counselor offers counseling and advocacy to those who request this service, or provides referrals to other social services within the community.
Our parent workshops empower our community to make a change in the home. We strive on connecting our parents with local resources and partner organizations that educate and address their needs. The workshops are held at our facility on a monthly basis.