Hey here’s a look at our annual Cray Day event from 2012 at the Villa Maria.
We would like to thank the Trustees of the Giant Eagle Foundation for their second installment of a three-year pledge to Cray Youth and Family Services. Giant Eagle has been a partner and friend to our agency and our Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lawrence County program for the past five years. Giant Eagle has been instrumental in our endeavor to provide mentoring through the community match program and site-based programs to at-risk children. Their support has also aided our efforts in volunteer recruitment and training and supported our Club Of Unmatched Littles (COUL) program by enabling us to provide activities and services to the children on the waiting list.
Giant Eagle has also provided gift cards to the agency annually, which we in turn distribute to the families we serve to help them purchase groceries. The generosity of the Giant Eagle Foundation and its Board of Trustees has helped to ensure that the children in our community have the support and services they need through mentoring, and that families who are facing financial hardships are able to purchase groceries. We are truly grateful to have the support of the Foundation and the positive impact they make in the lives of children and families throughout our community.
I have been the President of Cray Youth and Family Services for over 20 years. During that time, I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch the growth of our agency from its infancy to what it has become today.
What has it become today? It has become an agency that serves hundreds of dependent children in our community. It provides a safe haven for those who are most vulnerable in our society. It provides guidance and tutelage to those young men and women who have nowhere else to look for such important direction. It provides a home for young men and women to return to after reaching adulthood.
Nothing is more gratifying than seeing one of the students who have been a part of Cray return years later as a successful adult. Just the other day I had a young man come to my office when he had questions about issues that face adults in our world. Unfortunately, he does not have family to turn to, however, fortunately he has his Cray family.
It is my hope that I can continue in my capacity as President of Cray for many years to come. There are not many things that I do in my life that give me such satisfaction as watching the success stories that continue year after year.
Lawrence M. Kelly
As the holidays roll around, it is a time for celebration, joy, family and thanksgiving for all we are blessed with. As you all know we work with young people, all of whom have not had the blessings most of us sometimes take for granted Many of our kids suffer life experiences that are hard to imagine. As the holiday season nears, we would ask that you continue to remember our kids and that you share your blessings with them. Our gifts and our love cannot undo the harms many have experienced, but they can help bring about healing, and letting them know that they are cared about.
Also as the year winds down, it is a time for reflection. As I reflect back on the year here at Cray I get a feeling of accomplishment and hope for the future. I am very grateful to our many dedicated and passionate staff who work so hard to level the playing field for our kids. If you have been following our efforts in this newsletter, you know we have also set out to try and help this community become a healthier community for all of us. We have made significant strides and I am getting a very positive vibe from people and a strong sense that good things are about to start happening. I look forward to the upcoming year as we continue our adventure. We will continue to ask for your help and will keep you updated.
Although I am looking forward to the new year, I will take my own advice that I give to our staff — CARPE DIEM. May you all seize today and each day of this beautiful time of year. I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2013.
On Saturday December 8th Eddy Esposito Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram of New Castle will hosting a Christams Tree’s for Kids Charity Event. They will be selling one-hundred Christmas Tree’s for $20 each and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Cray Youth and Family Services, Origins program. The event will run from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the dealership which is located at 3239 Wilmington Road in New Castle, PA. So if your looking for a Christmas tree at a great price stop by Eddy Esposito’s and help support our mission to Make Life Better For Children.
For many years now Tickets For Kids have provided off site educational field trips for our Title I Summer School Program. This year the program attended the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the National Aviary, Fort Pitt Museum and Blockhouse and the PPG Zoo and Aquarium.
Usually the trips that are most popular with the students are the trips to the Pittsburgh Zoo or the Carnegie Science Center, but not this year; this year the most interesting trip was the visit to the Fort Pitt Museum and Blockhouse
The Fort Pitt Museum is located in Point State Park. We were provided with a personal guide that offered a very interesting and informative tour. The personal touch and attention we received when attending the museum truly enhanced our visit and peaked the interest of the children.
The historical past of the Fort was not lost to the students, many of whom had little to no knowledge or interest of the Fort before our visit. We had never visited Fort Pitt Museum and Blockhouse before and we were not exactly sure what to expect, we were not disappointed as this field trip turned into the highlight of the summer. Thank you Tickets for Kids!
Did you know that the lower East Side in New Castle was actually the first neighborhood established in the city? All other neighborhoods branched out from here and because of this significance in history, Cray’s new initiative for neighborhood based development in this neighborhood has been coined, “Origins- The Lower East Side Neighborhood Connection”. “Origins”, formerly known as the “I Care House”, will embody many of the same principles for community building that its previous owners strove to accomplish, but will also carry a new host of expectations.
“Origins” will act as ‘hub’ of activity and connectivity in the lower East Side neighborhood for residents of all ages and will be opening its doors on a regular basis on October 1, 2012. Initial activities will include after-school programming for kindergarten through 12th grade students (tutoring and enrichment activities).
As staff capacity and interests increase, the intent is to offer opportunities for adults, seniors, and any who wish to get involved. Getting involved can mean just coming into ‘hang out’ or could mean coming in with a mission to make this neighborhood a better place to live. All are welcome and we’d love to hear from you! Be in touch with Chris Frye, Cray’s Director of Neighborhood Development, via email at email@example.com or the “Origins” phone at 724-856-3314.
Recently, I ran into one of our kids, a young lady who was in our Supervised Independent Living group home program several years ago. This was a program that helped older adolescents prepare for adulthood. I had not seen her in years and was thrilled to run into her. She looked beautiful and told me all about how she was doing. She is in her thirties (I could not believe it), working full time, and living on her own. She helps support a sibling who is having some hard times. She told me how grateful she was to have been in our program, how much it had helped her and taught her. She said she would not be where she is today without it. She told me how, back then, she just kept running away and running away until she was finally placed in our program because she so much wanted to be there. She believed it was her chance to have a better life. I let her know how immensely proud I was of her and what a joy it was for me to see her and to see how well she was doing. I gave her a big hug and we went our separate ways.
We have a saying here at Cray – Once a Cray Kid, Always a Cray Kid. Well, it is really not just a saying. We carry the children that we serve in our hearts. We celebrate their successes and continue to provide support when times get tough for them regardless of their age. They are our family.
Today, due to state budget cuts, the Supervised Independent Living group home program no longer exists. Children have no choices as to the family they are born into; and unfortunately, many of the programs that have helped support those kids who got the short end of the stick have been eliminated. The cost to society for this failure to support our most vulnerable citizens will, in the long run, be so much greater than any monies saved. Providing support that helps children grow into healthy, productive citizens is an investment in our future. What better investment could we make?
Cray is about to embark on a new and exciting project. You may have been following in our Newsletters about our effort to help build a stronger and healthy community. One of our ideas was to open a gathering place for people to come to, which would encourage a sense of community. The author, Ray Oldenburg, in his book “Great Good Places,” calls these establishments, third places. They are places outside of home and work where people can meet to socialize and enjoy being around other friends and community members. Third places encourage a sense of belonging.
For quite some time, third places have been disappearing. We will be opening an establishment in downtown New Castle to provide people with a place they can come to and relax while enjoying a great cup of coffee, an equally great food selection, and all at an affordable price. Not only all of this, but at the same time, you are enjoying your coffee and a conversation with a friend (face-to-face—not on some electronic device); you will be helping your community. We are also hopeful that our effort will encourage other people to start businesses in the downtown area, which many feel is one of the keys to turning the whole community around.
All this is being made possible by the generosity of Mr. Paul Lynch. Paul has provided our location to us for the nominal fee of $1 a year. We plan to locate in the former JC Penney’s building at 214 East Washington Street. It is a great location, and we look forward to turning it into a great asset for the community. We also look forward to having all of you join us. We will keep you informed of our progress.