This year the agency honored two unsung heroines and a community champion. Elinor Tatum, Publisher and Chief of Staff for the New York Amsterdam News was the 2010 recipient of the Alice Hall Dowling & Jane D. Edwards Trailblazer’s Award and Dr. Ursulina Bencosme, MD, former Harlem Dowling physician received the 2010 Dr. James McCune Smith Award. The award is named in honor of the first African American physician to practice medicine in the United States. Dr. Smith was also the resident Doctor for the Colored Orphan Asylum. Benjamin Warnke, founder of Warnke Community Consulting, was honored with Harlem Dowling’s 2010 Founder’s Award. Mr. Warnke shares founding matrons Anna Shotwell and Mary Murray’s Quaker faith.
In 2011, Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services will celebrate its 175th Anniversary. Founded in 1863, the former Colored Orphan Asylum is one of New York’s oldest agencies dedicated to children and their families and the first to take in colored orphans. The institution’s resident physician Dr. James McCune Smith was the first African American to practice medicine in the United States and former supporters included Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Astor and Vanderbilt families and others. During the draft riots those who objected to fighting in the Civil War burned the Asylum to the ground. Miraculously, none of the 233 children residing at the home were killed.
In preparation for its 175th Anniversary, Harlem Dowling’s board of directors and executive staff recently launched an exciting building. Monies raised will go towards the agency’s new building project which will be located at 2135 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. The green building will include approximately 15,000 sq. ft. of dedicated office space and an additional 45,000 sq ft of space dedicated to low-income and subsidized housing. Ground breaking for 8 -9 story building, which will be located on the corner of 127th Street, is anticipated to take place in 2012, with an occupancy date of 2013. The multimillion dollar venture is being spearheaded by Benjamin Warnke, founder of Warnke Community Consulting.
Photo (l to r): #1, NY-1 anchorwoman and 2010 Awards Gala host Cheryl Wills and male crooner Marcos Brinson, #2, Boy-band the Melillo Brothers shared their angelic voices and #3, Harlem Dowling Board members Left to right – Craig McKay; Dr. Bert M. Peterson, Jr., MD; Karen Raglin; Corvette L. Smith; Gerald S. Migdol, Esq.; Deborah L. Woolridge; Jean Patton; Jaye Smith and Tim Mulvaney. Photo by Photos by Images of US.