Fatu’s Story

At 19, Fatu’s future looks bright. She plans to go to Monroe College in the fall to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer. She’s currently going to school and working full-time as a paralegal at Queens Defenders, which provides free services to low-income people. Not long ago, she was a recipient of those services.

You see, the future did not always look so bright for Fatu. When she came to live in one of SCO’s residences for youth in foster care in 2018, she had had a difficult childhood, and she’d been in trouble with the law.

When Fatu was 12, her mother returned to their native Liberia with her younger brother, leaving Fatu with an abusive family friend in Queens. She eventually ran away, joined a gang and got into trouble.

When she first came to SCO, Fatu was confrontational with staff and other residents. But despite her rocky start at her new home, SCO staff has been behind her since day one. They encouraged her to further her education and pursue her GED. They showed her the right way to do things, and most of all, they showed her they cared.

Fatu’s former Queens Defenders lawyer, Anthony Martone, played a pivotal role in her turnaround. He saw her potential and went the extra mile to help her by initiating an internship program at the firm for past clients who’ve been through the juvenile justice system. Fatu was the first intern and became the first full-time hire from the program.

Fatu is positive, respectful, and focused. She loves her job and it has inspired her to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.

Her turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous, and it serves as an inspiration to other youth. Fatu is living proof of what is possible with a positive attitude, hard work, perseverance, and the help of caring adults who never stop believing in you.

See Fatu’s story in THE CITY.

(Photo: Ben Fractenberg-THE CITY)

Kelly’s Story

Kelly lives on a quiet tree-lined street with her husband, two sons, and an energetic puppy named Molly. Life is pretty good these days. In her own words, she has a decent job, a home, a car, and a supportive family – all things she never thought possible before entering SCO’s Morning Star residential program for women recovering from substance use.

Since the age of 13, Kelly had been hooked on alcohol. For the next 10 years, she struggled with severe alcoholism, heroin addiction, and all the terrible symptoms that go along with that. She tried every which way to control her use but failed over and over again. Institutions, hospitals, and psychiatric facilities became a normal part of life. At the age of 23, Kelly realized she was running out of options. She had no place to live, was unemployable, and had no way to provide for herself or her 4-year-old son, Joseph. That’s when she found SCO.

Kelly was 35 days sober for the first time in her adult life when she entered SCO’s residential program. This would be the first of many pivotal firsts. While in program, she learned about accountability and structure. She was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous and attended off site treatment programs. She felt supported and heard by the women and staff at Morning Star and thrived in this environment.

Little by little, Kelly rebuilt her life. With the help of vocational counselors, she returned to school, received her high school diploma, and took clerical courses. She was thrilled when Joseph came to live with her on campus, working with SCO’s coaches and childcare team to hone her parenting skills. And she addressed her past traumas head on with mental health counseling at SCO’s Family Services Clinic.

Kelly credits her time in Morning Star as life-changing. She has been gainfully employed since leaving the program in 2012 and now works for a successful law firm. She found her soulmate in Rob and was married in 2015, and expanded her family with another son, Aidan, a few years later. She likes to say she is a work in progress – and we know there are plenty of firsts still ahead for Kelly.

2014 Art Auction A Great Success

The 4th Annual SCO Family Dynamics Art Auction was a huge success! Thanks to our wonderful supporters and all the artists who donated their work, last night’s benefit raised a record amount and will help us to expand after-school arts programming in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Brownsville. Thanks, everyone!


4th Annual SCO Family Dynamics Art Auction A Great Success

The 4th Annual SCO/Family Dynamics Art Auction on April 28th was the most successful yet, raising funds to support and expand the after-school art program for children at MS 35 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. 

“New Knowledge,” a painting featuring the neon palate and wildly inventive architecture of Williamsburg artist Erik Parker, won the largest bid. The benefit, held at Site 109 on the Lower East Side, drew 200 attendees who participated in a live and silent auction including works by artists Robert Szot, Ron Diorio Ron Agam, Ryan Keeley, Jim Plunkett and Dan Rizzie, all of whom donated their work. The children in the art program created and donated “Carousel Horse Collage” representing one of the horses on Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

“We are very grateful to everyone who supports our programs,” said SCO Executive Director Gail Nayowith. “Thanks to all of you, our children at Family Dynamics are getting a rich exposure to creativity, a critical doorway to dreaming and self-expression.” According to a recent report by Comptroller Scott Stringer, 28% of  public schools lack an art teacher – and half those schools are in Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. 

Erik Parker was this year’s Honorary Chair; previous honorary chairs for the Auction have included Julian Schnabel in 2011, Dustin Yellin in 2012 and Donald Sultan in 2013.  The event was co-chaired by Jeremy FitzGerald and Joni Grossman.

Family Dynamics, a program of SCO Family of Services, is committed to protecting children and strengthening families. Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and Brownsville, Brooklyn, Family Dynamics annually reaches 7,000 children, youth and adults with after-school & summer school activities, workforce readiness, family support services and the arts. Some 100 students now attend the after-school art program and Family Dynamics plans to expand the number served by 75 in the next school year. 

About Our Visiting Artist Program

Fatu’s Story

Changing her trajectory - anything is possible when others believe in you

Her turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous, and it serves as an inspiration to other youth. Learn More

Kelly’s Story

A life rebuilt, with the help of Morning Star

Kelly credits her time in Morning Star as life-changing. Learn More

91%

of babies in our Nurse Family Partnership were current with immunizations at 24 months

We shelter

5,200

youth, adults and children

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