Alumni SpotlightMike Cronin is a father of three currently living in Georgia. We asked him to tell us a little bit about his experiences at Children’s Arts & Science Workshops and the role it played in his life. This is what he had to say:
When I was 10, my mother moved us from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Washington Heights after meeting Lola Gallo during a YMCA family summer camp. My sister and I were immediately enrolled in everything offered by CASW – Friday and Saturday workshop classes run by Ms. Gallo and the afterschool center and summer camp, then run by Judy Rajek. For me, CASW became an accessible, fun, and life-saving alternative to hanging out in the street. Although gentrification and Starbucks have changed the face of my old neighborhood, it was a very dangerous and risk filled place to be a teenage male in the 1980s. Drugs, gangs, poverty-driven crime and violence were all too readily available examples and influences. CASW’s paramount importance during my childhood was as a positive alternative to the glorified criminal and dead end options the street provided. Through its workshop program, which is designed to expose neighborhood children to vocations, hobbies, and interests not typically available to them, CASW was very effective at showing the lit end of the dark tunnel to children who just couldn’t imagine a life outside of the “hood.”
In time, I graduated from workshop student to employee. It was my very first job. There were three of us (Me, Dominick Bioh and Louis Regus) on a team that was the school’s go-fers. It came with a small stipend and a pizza lunch but it was through that first job, we learned the value of being on time, working until the work was done, responsibility and most importantly, pride in our personal accomplishments. I’ve lost touch with Louis but at least two of the three original team members have become great successes as adults, thanks in great part to CASW. Dominick is a doctor with a private practice in Manhattan, and I’m a Regional Sales Director for a private software company. Without CASW, my life, and the lives of countless others, could have turned out much differently. Thankfully, CASW still stands as an oasis within the concrete jungle of NYC and continues to teach children of my old neighborhood that the only limitation to their lives are the ones that exist in their minds.