Academic Support

TIFFANY NESBIT | After-School Volunteer

Tiffany Nesbit volunteers her time to provide our children with support during the school week.
My mother was incarcerated when I was growing up. I understand what the CPNYC families are going through and wanted to offer my assistance to make their lives easier in any way I can.

Bio: Tiffany Nesbit was born and raised in the South Bronx but currently resides in Brooklyn. She is a fiction, fashion and beauty writer; educator; and editor currently working for New York State. Her passions include reading, writing, shopping, and traveling.

Date you started volunteering:
November 2015.

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?
My mother was incarcerated when I was growing up. I understand what the CPNYC families are going through and wanted to offer my assistance to make their lives easier in any way I can. I also think I am a good role model and want CPNYC students to see what they can achieve if they break the cycle.

How have you served as a volunteer?
I volunteer once a week, assisting group leaders with homework help and special activities such as art therapy, magic, and dance.

Share your most memorable moment as a volunteer.
For Christmas, CPNYC students were able to pick out two gifts and were featured on News 12. They were so excited that they were receiving more than one toy, and were over the moon when they heard they would be on TV. Their smiles have stayed with me since.

What are some lessons you have learned through this process?
Flexibility is key! It’s good to have a plan prepared for what you’d like to accomplish for the day, but you have to be able to read the room and make adjustments as necessary.

What advice would you offer to future volunteers?
Be open and honest. Children are able to tell when you’re not letting your true self show, and if they don’t feel that you are they won’t allow themselves to open up to you.

ADAM COUNTEE | Saturday Volunteer

Saturday volunteer Adam Countee assists CPNYC program participants with a variety of work, proving that contributions of all sizes make a difference.
It is my sincere belief and hope in life that anyone can make a difference just by showing up. These kids are worth it!

Bio:  Adam Countee was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. After studying English at Georgetown University, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking. He currently resides there with his wife and works as a screenwriter and television producer. His credits include the shows "Community," "The Mindy Project" and "Silicon Valley." 

Date you started Volunteering
March 2016.

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?
I was in New York on a temporary basis and was looking to get involved with an organization dedicated to helping kids. I’d heard through a friend about the incredible work that CPNYC was doing and I was eager to join up!

How have you served as a volunteer?
I attended Saturday tutoring sessions with the kids of CPNYC at the Bedford-Stuyvesant location. Together we did homework, read books and had a little fun on the basketball court.

Share your most memorable moment as a volunteer.
My most memorable moment as a volunteer was probably when Angelia, the student I was working with, finally stopped saying she “didn’t get” her math homework and finally decided to give it a try. She realized she knew a lot more than she thought she did. It was exciting to see Angelia surprise even herself and discover just how bright she truly is!

What are some lessons you have learned through this process?
My time at CPNYC was shorter than I had hoped, since I had to return to my home in Los Angeles. But in the short time I was there I learned so much from the incredible students and staff. Most notably, I learned that, as with most things in life, patience is key. The students were more often than not resistant to doing their homework… what kid wouldn’t be?! But I found that when I stayed on them and showed them I wasn’t going anywhere, they ultimately came around and applied themselves.

What advice would you offer to future volunteers?
I only was able to offer a small contribution to this great program, so I’d like to think that every little bit helps. It is my sincere belief and hope in life that anyone can make a difference just by showing up. These kids are worth it!

EMILY GALLAGHER BOOK READING

Emily Gallagher visits CPNYC to share her new book and celebrate taking care of one another.

Author Emily Gallagher visited CPNYC to answer student questions, autograph books and read passages from her children's book Sing, Sing, Midnight! The book features Maya, one of nearly two million American children with an incarcerated parent, who has a question for her daddy: "Who takes care of you?"—a simple question with an unexpected answer. Sing, Sing, Midnight! celebrates finding your voice, singing out loud, taking care of one another and family. Many thanks to Emily Gallagher for visiting CPNYC!

KIM ZIEGLER | Saturday Volunteer

Bed-Stuy-based Kim Zielger is committed to giving back to her community.
Last spring I worked mostly with kids from kindergarten to second grade, helping them with their homework. We read lots of books, learned shapes, counted by tens, did addition and subtraction, colored and played board games!

Bio: Kim Ziegler has a PhD in Italian Studies from NYU where she is a teaching fellow in the College Core Curriculum program. When not teaching or volunteering at CPNYC, she loves going to Brooklyn Bridge Park with her husband, cooking and (most importantly!) eating good food, especially dishes from her home state of Louisiana.

Date you started volunteering
March 2016.

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?
I live in Bed-Stuy and was looking for a way to become more involved in the neighborhood and to work with kids in the process. I was inspired by CPNYC’s mission, especially how the program focuses on children as whole people, offering them support in everything from after-school programs to mental health.

How have you served as a volunteer?
I am a regular volunteer at the Saturday Resource Tutoring Center. Last spring I worked mostly with kids from kindergarten to second grade, helping them with their homework. We read lots of books, learned shapes, counted by tens, did addition and subtraction, colored and played board games!

Share your most memorable moment as a volunteer.
I am constantly entertained and impressed by the kids. After we did a school worksheet one Saturday, Nicholas asked to color. So we found a coloring book, and soon he was cutting out characters and telling a story about them. We set up a table and chairs, and he put on a play using the characters as puppets. He was so creative! It really was fun. Other times, I have run into kids in the neighborhood, and they say hi and give me a big hug. They seem happy to see me, but what they don’t know is that seeing them makes my day!

What are some lessons you have learned through this process?
Doing school work on a Saturday is not an easy thing, so it is really important to acknowledge this and to share with the kids how we are proud of them for coming in and trying to get work done. I think the organization of the day, where we work and have periodic breaks for the kids to play in the gym all together is key. It’s natural that some kids, especially the younger ones, may have difficulty concentrating. At the same time, I have learned that we volunteers have to be patient and keep encouraging them even when they try to avoid doing work at all costs. Some kids repeat over and over that it’s too hard or that they can’t do it, and you worry about upsetting them. But I’ve realized that we are also teaching them how to stick with a task. As long as the tutor sits by the child’s side and offers encouragement, she or he can do it. It’s amazing to point out to the students after they’ve completed a whole assignment, “Look at what you did. That’s awesome!”

What advice would you offer to future volunteers?
Brush-up on your superhero and cartoon characters beforehand so that you can impress the kids with everything you know! I feel so old sometimes, but the kids are happy to explain new shows and characters to you. Get a good night’s sleep before you come. Young people have a ton of energy!

JESSICA JAHN | Saturday Volunteer

Bed-Stuy-based Jessica Jahn volunteers as a Saturday Volunteer, directly impacting the children CPNYC serves.
A few weeks after I started volunteering, I ran into one of the children that I worked with on my street. It was great to see how excited she was to see me, and the hug I got gave me energy for the rest of the day.
— Jessica Jahn

Bio: Jessica Jahn is a Costume Designer who lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and works in Theatre/Opera. She has lived in Brooklyn for 20 years, and has become a die-hard New Yorker.  

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?  
I came across CPNYC on a walk in the neighborhood, and after looking into the work that they do, understood it to be a valuable and worthy organization that I wanted to be a part of. I felt that they were (and are) dedicated to erasing inequity and advancing the needs of children by supporting a sometimes invisible but extremely important part of our population.  

How have you served as a volunteer?  
I worked with CPNYC as a tutor during the Saturday Resource Center/Homework Help during the school year.  

Share your most memorable moment as a volunteer.  
A few weeks after I started volunteering, I ran into one of the children that I worked with on my street. It was great to see how excited she was to see me (and I her), and the hug I got gave me energy for the rest of the day.  

What are some lessons you have learned through this process?  
The most wonderful thing that I have learned while working with CPNYC is the art of zen. It’s made me realize how important it is to be able to have patience, release the need to control every situation, and how to support and love children through the simple act of consistency.  

What advice would you offer to future volunteers?  
To be open to different ways of being, to have fun, to share yourself, to not be afraid to look silly, to be honest and truthful.