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For Immediate Release

Press Contact:

Keith L. Forest

(917) 714-89998






On Saturday, May 16, 2009, from 10:00 – 12 Noon, at the Alhambra Ballroom, Harlem Dowling West Side Center for Children and Family Service will shine a bright light on a few everyday heroes – its Foster Care and Adoptive Parents. The agency, which celebrates over 174 years of service to the Greater New York City community, realizes that it takes a village to raise a child, and proudly salutes those who share its on-going commitment to children and their families by honoring three distinguished individual for opening up their hearts and home for those less fortunate. 


The 2009 award recipients are: Adoptive Foster Parent, Jennifer Pike, who recently became the proud parent of two young girls; Foster Parent, Mary Woodson, a 20 year veteran who after successfully rearing one adoptive son, came out of retirement to raise another; and Kinship Foster Parent, Sheila Pantoja, a loving grandmother who cares for her three grandchildren. 


Founded in 1836, as the Colored Orphan Asylum, Harlem Dowling was one of the first charitable institutions in the US dedicated to children and the first to take in orphans of color.  By 1840, it quickly outgrew its first home-cottage on West 12th Street near Sixth Avenue and began constructing a larger facility on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets.  In 1969, then Executive Director Jane D. Edwards and Alice Hall Dowling, Board President of Spence Chapin Services for Children, formed the Harlem Dowling Project. With its mission to service Central Harlem’s young mothers unable to care for their newborns, the organization has grown to be a beacon of hope and prosperity in the Harlem community providing foster care, adoption, preventive services and related assistance to children and their families. In 1989, The Colored Orphan Asylum, then known as the Westside Center for Children merged with Harlem Dowling.


Within the past nine years Harlem Dowling has helped well over eight hundred children find permanent and loving families through adoption. “This is a major milestone which reflects the dedication and commitment of our staff, foster and adoptive families and our communities”, stated HDWC Executive Director, Dorothy Worrell.


Harlem Dowling is a leading multi-service child and family centered agency. The non-profit agency is dedicated to serving children and families in crisis and distress.  For nearly two centuries, Harlem Dowling has provided assistance to children, their families and the community by offering out-of-home foster care, adoption, therapeutic placement, supportive housing for youth aging out of foster care, and other support services. Related services include, family preservation, HIV/AIDS services, family support services, and after school programs for children and families living in Central Harlem, Washington Heights, Southeast Queens and Far Rockaway.

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