Hearts to Homes News

Talented and Treasured

Our thanks for the treasure, time, and talents of these three original Hearts to Homes board members who have finished their term. All three joined Hearts to Homes from the start, and their efforts on behalf of foster youth helped us expand to support youth at eleven agencies.  Our mission would not have had this growth without their amazing leadership!

From top, left: Laurie Wilson has written our quarterly newsletters for the past few years. Without her help, we would not have been able to share with you all of our good news! Her vision for how to communicate our mission has helped grow our team of donors in the past three years.

Jeanne Marconi was instrumental in helping us to provide the signature red, H2H cozy blankets that so frequently are featured in our social media photos. If you scroll our social media, you’ll see this beautiful gift provided to every recipient. Our young adults love them! Her work in pediatrics helped guide many board decisions.

Paul McLaughlin helped create the wildly popular Open Hearts event at Oceana Restaurant to benefit Hearts to Homes. The concept for our largest fundraiser ever was Paul’s idea and accomplished with Paul efforts. In addition, specialty drinks in December and May helped spread the word of our mission and raised critical funds.  Supporting youth in the transition to independence was something Paul took to heart.

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Meet Our New Board Members!

new board members
 Clockwise from top left: Nicole Grogan, Debbra Stolarik, Cookie Humphrey, Ameena Makhdoomi and Todd Wood

Hearts to Homes is pleased to welcome, and introduce to our donors, four new members and one returning member to our Board of Directors. Each of these individuals brings a commitment to philanthropy and to our mission to help foster youth make a smoother transition from care to independence. We look forward to working with them as we plan for future growth, enabling Hearts to Homes to provide services to more foster youth in New York City and Westchester County.

Nicole Grogan is Managing Director and Head of National Accounts at DWS, a global asset management organization. Nicole has over twenty-five years of experience in financial services, received her Bachelor of Science at Villanova University and her MBA at Fordham University. Her interest in supporting Hearts to Homes is rooted in a firm belief that all children and young adults deserve an opportunity to build an independent life for themselves, where they can achieve their personal goals, and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Cookie Humphrey is the owner and publisher of Compulsive magazine, a celebrity publicist and worked as a HR consultant in the Middle East and Asia. Cookie has served on the boards of Women In Motion, Rising Star Music Awards and The Bronx Hip Hop Museum. She holds a B.S. in human services from Springfield College a M.S. in HRD from the University of Bridgeport and is completing her PhD in psychology. As a former foster child, and youth advocate, Cookie knows the importance of young people aging out of the system.

Ameena Makhdoomi is an alumna of Hobart and William Smith Colleges the Ethel Walker School and has three years of marketing experience in the wine industry. Since 2019, Ameena has served on our Junior Committee, helping to share our mission with a younger demographic. Her election to the Board was a direct result of the enthusiasm that she has shown for developing creative marketing strategies. She has taken on the responsibility of helping Hearts to Homes with social media strategy.⁠

Debbra Stolarik is Counsel for Deloitte LLP and has served in a similar role for child-focused organizations including Sesame Workshop and Scholastic Inc. She was a founding member and previously served a one-year term on our Board. Prior to her work with Hearts to Homes, Debbra served for nearly a decade on the Board of Advisors for Mercy Center, the BAFTA scholarship committee, and the Boards of the American Constitution Society’s New York Chapter and Friends of the Nyacks. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Todd Wood is a partner with Sustainability Partners. He is a senior member of the investor relations and business development group. Prior to Sustainability Partners, Todd worked at J.P. Morgan, Hambrecht & Quist, Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn and Tudor Pickering and Holt where he held various roles in sales, trading and business development. His volunteer activities include coaching youth football for the Riverside (Greenwich) Gators, on point squash (Charleston, SC). He is a graduate of Boston College where he captained the football team under head coach Tom Coughlin.

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Hearts to Homes Responds to COVID-19 Pandemic
with Critical Support

Housing Statistics Show Why Such Support is Needed

  • 77% of Hearts to Homes alumni live in NYCHA buildings throughout New York City.
  • 30 of our alumni live within the 10 New York City COVID-19 “hot spot” zip codes.
  • Layoffs were likely to impact our youth at higher rates than the general population. 60% of our youth have a high school diploma or GED as their highest level of education.

Recognizing the impact that the virus and its economic fallout would have on the youth we have previously assisted, Hearts to Homes developed a program to address anticipated needs. Your support of our May Challenge helped ease financial burdens for these youth. Their needs were critical, and what they told us was not surprising.

Since May 1, we have provided over $16,800 of COVID relief stipends to 140 of our alumni and recent referrals. Thanks to your generosity and care, our COVID-19 Assistance Program has helped young people pay rent, cover transportation costs, and purchase life-sustaining items like groceries and cleaning supplies. Your kindness has softened the impact of these past few months.

71% of youth who responded to our offer said that they were out of work or furloughed. Just 25% still had a part-time or full-time job. Showing perseverance, fifteen of our young adults were continuing their college studies as part-time (6) or full-time (9) students.

When asked what their most pressing needs were, over 70% of responding youth identified groceries as their primary need. “I mainly need food as there is not much in my refrigerator, and I was wondering how I would eat,” said one of our young adults. Other needs included making payments for medicine, license renewal fees, paying a phone bill so that they could “stay in touch with family members” during the stay-at-home order, and clothing. Over half of our youth identified cleaning supplies as a need. The college students and those who were still working most frequently identified transportation costs as their most pressing need.

In additional to being able to offer a bit of financial help, Hearts to Homes was able to share information about additional resources, from other organizations, that our alumni might be able to apply for. Every little bit of help, guidance and reassurance can be meaningful to someone who is trying to navigate an experience like this pandemic on their own. For many of us, this crisis has caused us to reach out to our family for help, advice or even for company. When a young adult might not have family to rely on, Hearts to Homes donors were there to help with groceries, cleaning supplies and other important needs!

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