BE-Style: Explain for me, what is Miracle on Madison Ave.
KM: It’s a shopping event that was originally started by two boutique owners from Madison Ave. This marks our 23-year. It is supported by hundreds of volunteers that are out on the street during the day. The key thing is that with the participation of the 77 retailers, 20% of the day’s sales are donated back to the Children’s Aid Society and its health services. The money goes to our center within the business district in NYC and to our affiliated program at Mount Sinai that offers health services to teens.
Children’s Aid started in 1853, and helps over 100,000 children each year in 45 different sites across New York City, including 22 community schools. Several of our schools have health centers offering mental, health and dental services. Unfortunately, in some of the poorer neighborhoods, the presence of asthma is very high and when a child has an asthma attack we are able to help them in the school versus having an ambulance take them to the hospital emergency room. Each child we assist in school saves over $1000 in emergency care.
BE-Style: Are you available to student year round?
KM: We have community schools, where we help students before or after school. We would like to see health centers in every school offering dental, mental, and medical health. The big issue is that not everyone can afford insurance. We like to get the parents involved and show them how to find ways to obtain health insurance. We provide counseling and mentoring to parents to help them understand the programs available to their families.
BE-Style: How do you feel about universal health our current health issues before us in government right now?
KM: I think that everyone should have health insurance. We see a lot of cases where a child is ill, for example, with a chronic ear infection and as a result ends of missing a lot of school. This is something that could have been prevented by antibiotics and simple health. So, it’s hugely important. These children have to start playing catching up and sometimes have to repeat a grade. And you see, all of this is preventable. So it’s essential for Miracle on Madison to raise funds for the health care services.
BE-Style: Do you notice that there is growth among the participants, even is these economic times?
KM: Yes, because we did more advertising with CBS as our media sponsor, we received a wonderful amount of radio coverage. Tamara did a CBS radio spot and Citybuzz video. We also had a presence in social media including Twitter and Facebook. I think this year people are opening their wallets up a little bit more than they were last year. Consumers seemed to be a bit more comfortable this year than the last. Thousands of people did come out this year on Miracle Sunday to shop and we definitely did have more traffic on the Avenue.
BE-Style: With respect to participants of retailers, are you noticing an increase in numbers?
KM: Yes. We were actually receiving calls up to the day before the event. So that was really encouraging for us. Madison Avenue is a wonderful shopping district and the retailers are so supportive of Children’s Aid. One retailer told a volunteer ( who was also a shopper) that they look forward to this day every year. We have tents on the Avenue and our volunteers are on the streets letting shoppers know the importance of Miracle on Madison and encouraging them to participate by purchasing a gift, and at the same time they’ll be positively impacting the lives of the children we help.
BE-Style: Are you looking at expanding the shopping event to other major markets such as L.A., Atlanta, or Miami?
KM: It’s a great template for someone to copy but we are a New York City agency. However, while our sites and centers are New York based, we do have programs that have been replicated and adapted nationally and globally. There are 13,000 community schools that use our model, and our pregnancy prevention program has also been replicated across the country and is a Tier 1 outcomes driven program which we hope will receive national funding.
BE-Style: How does Children Aid help with kids that are going through emotional and mental issues?
KM: Increasingly we work with disconnected youth. These are mostly kids that age out of foster care and are now adults that have never had to make decisions on their own. They didn’t have parents that taught them basic life skills. We also work with teens that are disco
nnected from family, or kids who are starting to get in trouble by making the wrong choices. We have a new center called The Next Generation Center, which is up in the Bronx, and it provides support for these types of kids. We received the funding and the kids worked on the building design and interior every step of the way. When you arrive, the teens (from 14 to the early 20s) walk up and introduce themselves to you in a respectful manner. It’s amazing that these types of programs are not available everywhere because it could change the lives of our youth. Teenage years are tough times anyway and if you’re in a difficult environment, it’s even harder to make the right decisions.
BE-Style: What would for Miracle on Madison to BE in the future?
Special Thanks for to Kathy De Meij – Director of Marketing & Events, Emily Crossan – Public Relations Manager, and Michael DiVito – Photography.
For Information on Children’s Aid Society: