The Robin Hood Foundation Honors Five New York City Heroes
Honored Organizations Represented By Heroes Receive $50,000 Award Grants
Chancellor Joel I. Klein to be the First Public Official to Receive a Hero
NEW YORK, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Robin Hood, one of the city's leading poverty-fighting organizations, today honored five New Yorkers at the 16th annual Robin Hood Heroes Award breakfast held at the Mandarin Oriental New York. Chancellor Joel I. Klein was honored as the first public official to receive a Robin Hood Heroes Award in recognition of his work to improve New York City's public school system. Three organizations represented by the recipients of the Heroes Award - Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, Goddard Riverside Community Center and Red Hook on the Road - received an additional grant of $50,000 from Robin Hood. Each year, Robin Hood honors outstanding people whose work is transforming the lives of the poorest New Yorkers. Presenting this year's awards were Robin Hood board members Tom Brokaw, Marie-Josee Kravis, Dan S. Och and Alan D. Schwartz. "These remarkable New York City Heroes are an inspiration to all of us who believe that anything is possible in this city and that each person can truly make a difference in bettering the lives of our neighbors and our communities," said Glenn Dubin, chair of Robin Hood's board of directors and host of the Heroes Award breakfast. The 2005 Robin Hood Heroes: Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, NYC Department of Education Since becoming chancellor in 2002, Joel I. Klein has handed parents and children in poor neighborhoods their first chance on the education superhighway out of poverty. He is phasing out poor performing, large and overcrowded high schools, and has already launched well over 100 smaller ones, with many more to come. He has created an ambitious Leadership Academy to train principals and has partnered with the private sector, including Robin Hood, to inject millions of dollars into New York City's education budget. Chancellor Klein also set out to create 50 charter schools in five years - and he's already ahead of schedule. He took the bold step of turning over space in public schools to charters so they could begin to take root. Today, the best of the charter schools are lifting thousands of struggling children to academic heights these children and their families had never even dreamed about a few years ago. And overall the city's schools are performing at levels never seen before. Dr. Angela Diaz, Director, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center When Dr. Angela Diaz came to Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center (MSAHC) for treatment during her last year of high school, the odds were against her ever graduating. Today, with a medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Master's in Public Health from Harvard University, Dr. Diaz has been named one of the most influential doctors in America. Since she took over MSAHC in 1988, the program has tripled in size and its budget has grown to $10M from $4M. It is the largest adolescent health center in the country. Dr. Diaz, who credits MSAHC with changing her life, has increased programming around issues of sex, race, trauma and abuse. Today as its Director, she has shaped and saved the lives of tens of thousands of adolescents in New York City. Through her health advocacy and policy work in the United States and abroad, she has an impact on the lives and health of young people worldwide. George Sanders and Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, Goddard Riverside Community Center George Sanders, a resident of Goddard Riverside's Corner House, fled his aunt's home at age 13 to escape constant beatings and was homeless for the next 30 years. Mentally challenged, he got by living on the streets until Goddard finally found him in Central Park. George had participated in other homeless programs before, but only Goddard was successful. Today, for the first time in 30 years, George is mentally stable, has been sober for more than two and a half years, is working, and lives in his own apartment. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas has run Corner House, Goddard Riverside's permanent housing facility for the mentally ill and elderly since 1997. Georgiette is passionate about caring for the mentally ill and destitute and integrating them into society. She has made Corner House an integral part of the community and her efforts have helped to revitalize a once dangerous neighborhood. Julio Perez, Program Director, Red Hook on the Road Julio Perez, who has been program director of Red Hook on the Road (RHOR) for almost four years, knows first-hand that this nonprofit works. His father was a graduate. RHOR, an innovative job training program, enables unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers to secure positions as drivers of trucks, buses and vans. Many of its graduates have been homeless, incarcerated, on public assistance or struggling to survive with low-paying, dead-end jobs. RHOR provides supportive services including assistance with child care, housing and budget concerns, as well as counseling for domestic violence and substance abuse through its umbrella program, Fifth Avenue Committee. They also offer an Individual Development Account program that gives a $2 to $3 match for every $1 saved, depending on household income. Julio works tirelessly on behalf of RHOR participants to encourage them to complete the program and obtain employment that can sustain themselves and their families. Daniel Francois and Marisol Gonzales, RHOR graduates, presented the award: Daniel Francois was unemployed with a child when he attended RHOR. One day after passing his road test, he landed a job with a kosher food company, earning $500 per week. Daniel took advantage of the program's Individual Development Account program to set aside money for his Class A license. Since then, he's doubled his salary and hopes to start his own trucking company. At 4 foot 9, Marisol Gonzales doesn't fit the image of a typical truck driver. A single mother of three, Marisol came to RHOR after years of living on public assistance. She completed the training, passed a driving test with Gate Gourmet at JFK airport and was quickly offered a job. Today she earns $13.20 an hour with full benefits driving a 26-foot truck. Marisol talks movingly of how proud she is to be a role model for her children. About Robin Hood: Robin Hood works to save lives and change fates by targeting poverty at its roots. We find and fund the best poverty-fighting programs in New York City, give them management assistance to maximize results, and, through independent evaluation, hold them accountable. We also partner with them to create initiatives to address unmet needs. Robin Hood's board of directors underwrites all administrative and fundraising costs so that every single dollar you donate to Robin Hood goes directly to programs that help New York City's poor build better lives for themselves and their families. www.robinhood.org
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