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Bright Horizons Foundation for Children Teams up with NBC’s TODAY to Create a Bright Space for Homeless Children in Brooklyn

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children® announced that it has partnered with NBC’s TODAY on their Shine a Light Series, a year-long initiative focused on service and giving back to the community. Alongside TODAY Host Willie Geist, the Foundation, with the support of Bright Horizons Family Solutions® and other businesses will create a Bright Space® at the Bushwick Family Residence in Brooklyn, New York.

When choosing to focus his Shine a Light Project on homeless children, Geist said, “For many people, homelessness might call to mind the image of a man with a makeshift cardboard sign approaching cars on a highway exit, or of a woman sleeping in the cold over a subway grate. The truth is that homelessness is a family problem. A child should have a safe, clean place to eat, to study and to play. I want to help one shelter go above and beyond to give kids a real sense of ‘home’ for as long as they need to be there.”

“We are so honored to be working on this project that we believe will bring tremendous visibility to the challenges and struggles faced by the 2.5 million homeless children living in the United States,” said Bright Horizons Foundation President Mark Mendel. “Our dream is for each Bright Space that we create to be a place where children can experience the joy of childhood, and families can gain strength and well-being. We applaud Willie for bringing attention to such an important issue and look forward to creating a much-needed special place for the children of the Bushwick Family Residence.”

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children has opened more than 300 Bright Spaces across the U.S. and the United Kingdom, serving children from infants through teens. Mendel noted that each Bright Space is unique, and in these special spaces a mother might simply find a soothing place to feed her baby, a preschooler may explore toys or books, older children can play and do homework, and a teenager may find help to finish high school and even apply for college and the financial aid to pay for it.

The Bushwick Family Residence is a transitional shelter for families located in Brooklyn, New York. The shelter, operated by the Volunteers of America- Greater New York, is a residence for 87 families. Families at the shelter receive a wide range of services to help them obtain permanent housing and achieve independence.

“We are truly delighted to be partnering with the Bright Horizons Foundation on this transformative project,” said Tere Pettitt, president and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York. “For the children in our shelters, life is often filled with uncertainty. At VOA-GNY, we try our best to restore some of the normalcy of childhood – whether it’s celebrating birthdays with a party, cake and presents, outfitting students with new, filled backpacks for the first day of school or providing a safe, new Bright Space in which our children can play, explore their creativity and share quality time with their families.”

The project was announced on TODAY this morning. Over the coming weeks, and using suggestions provided by the children in the shelter, the Foundation and its volunteers will work alongside Geist and Interior Designer Elaine Griffin to transform the shelter’s recreation space into a bright, fun place where the children can play, read, do their homework and do activities with their friends. The new space will be revealed in December. 

More about Willie’s Geist’s Shine a Light project with the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children and the opportunity to contribute can be found at www.crowdrise.com/willie.

About Bright Spaces® and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children®

There are 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. Half of them are under age 6. The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on brightening the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and other crises. We do this by creating and supporting Bright Spaces: warm, enriching places in shelters and community agencies where children and youth can build caring relationships, heal from trauma through play, and experience the joy of childhood. Bright Spaces are created and supported through partnerships with community organizations, financial sponsors, a Bright Horizons center, school or department, and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. We currently have more than 300 Bright Spaces serving more than 100,000 children a year. 

About Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America has been at the forefront of social service for 118 years, helping individuals and families in need overcome obstacles to living safe, healthy and productive lives. Across the country, 2 million people in 400 communities in 46 states feel the impact of Volunteers of America’s work every year. Locally, tens of thousands of men, women and children in need benefit from Volunteers of America’s life-changing, often life-saving work including the homeless, families affected by domestic violence, children with special needs, adults and youth living with HIV/AIDS, behavioral health or substance abuse issues, veterans struggling to find their footing, and the frail elderly.


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