Hundreds of children attended the back-to-school event, which featured community organizations and city agencies providing resources throughout the day.
“The idea is to bring services to people, make people aware of what’s available to them,” said Jim Norcott, senior vice president for planning and evaluation for Catholic Charities. “These are challenging times. People need all the help they can get.”
Activities included a bounce house, woodworking provided by Home Depot, and blood pressure screenings from The Floating Hospital. Each child received a backpack filled with school supplies.
“These are all things that impact people’s lives,” Norcott said. “This is a good opportunity to get out in the community and invite the community in to say, ‘We’re here for you.’”
At the event, Catholic Charities also unveiled its new mobile outreach van, which will provide assistance to neighborhoods that don’t have access to one of the organization’s walk-in centers.
“We decided that we wanted to find new ways of getting out to the communities and mobile is a way to do it,” he said. “We want to be able to get the word out about our services and try to help connect people either to our services or to whatever services they may need.”
Norcott said Catholic Charities is still finalizing the locations and neighborhoods where the van will serve. The mobile unit will primary give information and referrals, he said.
CCBQ currently operates 160 programs in more than 100 locations in the two boroughs, from Far Rockaway to Downtown Brooklyn. Their programs serve children, teens and seniors.
“There are a lot of services out there, but it’s very difficult for people to get to them. It’s even difficult for people to know about them,” Norcott said. “We’re hoping that this is yet another way to get to people.
“We don’t pretend to be able to solve everybody’s problems, we can’t,” he added. “But our goal is, we may not do it, but maybe we can help get you connected to people who can. It’s about our commitment to communities.”
The Floating Hospital, a Long Island City-based healthcare organization, has participated in Kids Fun Day for eight consecutive years. Cynthia Davis, director of community outreach for the hospital, said she sees the event as a way of giving back to the community.
It’s also a way to promote their services for neighborhood families.
“Every year I've come, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” she said. “You see that the needs are growing. You can feel the camaraderie, the intimacy within this event.”