2020: What A Year!
This year has been unlike any other in so many ways, but through it all, the Felix mission to support children in the foster care system has remained the same. Despite the obstacles we faced this year, Felix worked hard to ensure our children had the resources they needed to stay safe and healthy, from urgent necessities to personal enrichment.
Although we had to change things up and make the difficult decision to cancel our overnight summer programming, we were able to provide several innovative virtual and pop-up programs to bring the outdoors, sunshine, and community spirit of Camp Felix to our kids through this hard time.
Below you can read more about how the Felix Family showed up for our kids this year.
FELIX EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND
In March 2020, we established the Relief Fund to provide children and families in our immediate foster care community in New York City with funds for critical necessities due to the COVID-19 crisis. Since March, we have disbursed over $23,000 in funds and supplies including protective masks, cleaning products, groceries for food-insecure families, and technical assistance including internet connectivity and laptops for youth in congregate care to continue their educations during the pandemic. As we transitioned into the Summer season, we noticed an emerging need for educational supports like tutoring to mitigate the negative impact of being home from school during the pandemic. In response, we partnered with Mott Haven Academy Charter School, providing a grant for summer tutoring for approximately 40 students.
CAMP FELIX GARDEN
Through our Camp Felix Garden program, 20 teen girls residing in one of our partner organization’s foster care group homes in New Windsor, New York, built a 10’ x 30’ garden on-site at their St. Christopher’s residence, creating a safe and beautiful outdoor space to unwind during tough times.
With the support of garden education nonprofit, Land to Learn, the girls:
Installed and painted the garden beds
Built a fence to keep out the critters
Planted and watered the plants weekly
Participated in workshops to learn more about nutrition, food justice, and community wellness.
One of our youth, JJ, worked as a paid intern to maintain the garden throughout the duration of the program, liberating her to imagine the professional potential of her new skills. These young women, who have sustained so much trauma in their lives, were given the tools to build a garden from scratch, and in the process develop essential life skills like responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving, and perseverance. On the last day of the program, the group enjoyed the fruits (and veggies) of their labor at a party to celebrate their accomplishments. Together, they experienced the joys of digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching something grow from their hard work and dedication.
CAMP FELIX ROAD TRIPS
The Camp Felix Road Trips program gave 20 teen girls living in a New York City foster care residence the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors this summer, seeing spectacular views of the mountains and the Hudson, surrounded by trees and fresh air.
Every Friday in July and August, these girls, who had not gone anywhere during the initial COVID19 lockdown, boarded a bus for a road trip to a unique destination outside of NYC, giving them the freedom to move around in the great outdoors rather than staying inside at their residence. Our group from the Good Shepherds residential homes visited the following locations throughout the summer:
Ward Pound Ridge
Boscobel House and Garden
Rockland State Park
Goshen Green Farm
Bear Mountain State Park
Constitution Audubon Center
Harlem Valley Homestead
The girls participated in educational hiking trips at three state parks led by professional guides from the touring company, Adventure Untamed, who created a safe space to help our girls feel comfortable in nature. At Harlem Valley Homestead, they got friendly with the cows during feeding time and also baked yummy zucchini muffins. After a special day at Goshen Green Farm, the girls used the fresh vegetables they picked for a Master Chef cooking competition back at their residential home the following week.
Most of the children we serve have never been on a hike in the woods or seen a farm animal up close. Each of these family-style vacation trips gave our girls the chance to unwind with their friends and connect with nature in a meaningful way. These were transformational experiences for our young people.
CAMP FELIX AT HOME
In partnership with the New York Foundling, our Camp Felix Putnam Valley campers enjoyed four weeks of virtual camp, with a variety of activities including:
Arts & Crafts
Many of these activities (highlighted here in purple) were provided by amazing professionals and volunteers from the Felix Family network we have built over the years. These activities allowed our campers to create happy memories, build new skills, and strengthen positive connections with peers and counselors, which was especially valuable as they had all been doing school from home in the Spring. In addition to virtual programming, meals, devices, and internet connections were provided to all who needed them.
BRYAN’S CAMP FELIX
The Bryan Jacobson Foundation sponsored 15 boys in foster care for Bryan’s Camp Felix At Home, where they participated in activities to keep them engaged and energized including theater games, animation, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workshops, music production, and a drumming workshop led by BJF's Shaun Jacobson!
Our unique summer programming alleviated many of the challenges our children battled from being confined to their homes for over three months during the initial COVID19 lockdown.
We are so grateful that even when the world stopped, the support of our community of friends, family, donors, volunteers, partners, and so many more kept us going. We THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for helping us continue to create fun and special experiences for our kids to help them through this hard time.
As we approach the end of the year, we are still in full swing with our Secret Santa gift card drive to make the holiday season brighter for teens in foster care who might otherwise receive nothing. For more information on how to get involved with this effort, please see the flyer below: