I was born on October 16, 1975, at the Methodist Hospital. Terrified and confused, my 16 year old mom at first considered giving me up for adoption but decided instead to keep me. Her mother offered her a place to stay, but she was expected to provide everything else.
Mom did best she could to raise me. But she was too young to qualify for government programs and had no ready skills. A volunteer introduced her to CHiPS where she received donated clothing, diapers and even baby formula.
We relied so much on CHiPS that first year of my life that I became the “communal baby” and celebrated my first birthday right inside its dining area!
My mother worked two jobs as a waitress and bar maid. When we moved into our first apartment, CHiPS supplied dishes and even some used furniture. Our meals often came from its food pantry and we never went to bed hungry.
The compassion and sense of community we found at CHiPS taught me to help others and give back to my community. I eventually majored in psychology and worked in not-for-profit, becoming first a domestic violence counselor and then a NYPD Police Officer in the 72nd and 78th Precincts. As sergeant and lieutenant, I served as the Commanding Officer of the Work Experience Program Unit, working with young mothers receiving social service benefits and seeking careers within the Police Department. As Chief Officer, I recently chaired one of the Community Council meetings at the Madonna Residence.
I often share my story of being raised by a single, teen mother with clients overwhelmed by their circumstances. I encourage them, letting them know that anything is possible and that hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places.
Thank you CHiPS!