The Youth Orchestra of Caracas

The Youth Orchestra of Caracas

In September, I took the Little Flock to Crotona Park and we listened to the Youth Orchestra of Caracas. Heidi Hynes, my supervisor, mentioned the concert to me the week before.

I am a strong believer in music and was happy the parents at my church allowed their children to join me.

It was a concert celebrating 10 years of solidarity between the Bronx and Venezuela. In 2005, the late President of Venezuela,  Hugo Chávez, provided  gallons of discounted heating oil  to thousands of low-income residents of the South Bronx. While sitting there on the grass, I felt a  feeling of positivity in the air, it felt like only the possible could happen for the rest of my life!. Everyone was celebrating the goodness in the Bronx and all the things that can happen when you put your mind to it…

I was happy I went because the concert has inspired me on many levels.

Everytime I go to a music concert, it reminds me how hard work really does pay off. It also make me pick up my flute and take time to pratice the piano. I enjoyed the testimonies given by UpbeatNYC.

The children who went with me expressed their desire to learn how to eventually play an instrument.

One of the best comments during the concert was: “In Venezuela it is a child’s consitutional right to learn music”.

Health Bucks Promotion

Council Member Ritchie Torres with Mary Mitchell Students


This past summer, I had the opportunity to take the Mary Mitchell students to La Familia Verde Farmers’ Market on East Tremont Avenue between La Fontaine & Arthur Avenues.

Every Tuesday I would explain to them the purpose of the Farmers Market and why they were being given an opportunity to shop for their families. Then, I would take out a stack of health bucks and explain that it was worth two dollars ($2) each and was developed and distributed by the NYC Health Department and can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at all farmers’ markets in NYC.

When we arrive at the market, they would line up and get ten dollars ($10) each worth of Health Bucks and be allowed to freely walk around the market to shop. Usually I would take between 12 and 16 students and make sure they stick with their partners. They would walk around the market with anxious looks on their faces eager to buy foods they normally would not buy from the bodega.

Occasionally they would express their sentiments in not being able to buy something sweet so I would make sure I had enough money to but one piece of cake or a bag of mini sweets from Kevin and share distribute it out fairly. However, most of the time, they would buy peaches and blue berries and eat it right away. I always had to stop them from eating what they brought afraid that they would get a stomach ache.

Before the summer ended the students joined the local farmers, the director of the Mary Mitchell Center, Heidi Hynes, Council Member Ritchie Torres and others at a press conference held at the market to voucher for Health Bucks.

Major concerns were addressed like the diabetes rate among the elderly and children, the Bronx being the last county in New York State (among 62 counties) to eat, serve, and be served healthy food, and the importance of increasing access to fruits and vegetables for low-income residents.

Mary Mitchell Family with Farmer David Haughton

Mary Mitchell Family at the Farmers Market

Some of the Mary Mitchell Family smiling with Farmer David Haughton.

Farmer  David Haughton and his family always give the kids love and have extra patience with them. He and his lovely wife makes it their manner to talk to the children everytime they arrive. We took this picture after he cut a big watermelon for them.

Ethan, Heidi Hynes & Gavin

Ethan, Heidi Hynes & Gavin shopping

The director of the Mary Mitchell Center shopping with Health bucks along with Mary Mitchell students, Ethan and Gavin.

Keep Calm and Be Healthy

Saturday, October 19, 2013 the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center hosted a community health walk around the neighborhood and Crotona Park.

It started 9:30 in the morning, supplying the supporters with a light breakfast and ended at 12 noon with a delicious lunch.

Even though it was staged as a health walk, it was more than that. It was a community gathering and information session.  Before we set out to walk, the director of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, Heidi Hynes, welcomed the sponsoring organizations that came to support the Mary Mitchell:

  • Mothers on the Move
  • University Neighborhood Housing Program
  • the POINT
  • Concourse House
  • Mt. Hope Housing Co.
  • Isis Community Circle
  • Bronx Health Reach
  • Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
  • Montefiore CATCH Program
  • BLK Projek
  • Fordham University Dorothy Day Center
  • Groundswell
  • La Familia Verde
  • Green Worker Cooperatives
  • DPHO
  • TANIMA Dance

Together as a community we marched around the neighborhood chanting songs and holding signs promoting fair economy,physical activity, access to fresh food,  school health, good housing, a clean environment and individual wellness.

Health Walk

Volley Ball

The Colors of the Rainbow


I like looking at this picture. Little Nyla’s pose is amazing. She is only in Kindergarten and look at her putting her hand on her hips!

Hiding in the back is Elsa, Mary Mitchell’s cook.