In celebration of National Adoption Month Harlem Dowling West Side Center for Children and Family Services celebrated its 175th Anniversary with a grand awards gala at Bridgewaters at South Street Seaport. Hosted by actor Michael K. Williams and New York 1 leading anchorwoman Cheryl Wills, the festive affair was well attended and included many warm greetings from numerous elected officials including an official declaration proclaiming November 3, 2011 as Harlem Dowling Day by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Harlem Dowling consultant physicians Dr. James McKnight and Dr. Jeffrey Gardere along with author Sheri Migdol were the guests of honor.
Dr. McKnight, a noted child and adolescent psychologist and Dr. Gardere, a celebrity psychologist and TV personality, both received the 2011 James McCune Smith Award.
The award is in honor of the first African American physician to practice medicine in the United States, who was also a devoted house physician at the former Colored Orphan Asylum for over 20 years. The award recognizes health care professionals who are dedicated to eradicating health care disparities.
Sheri Migdol received the 175th Anniversary Community Service Award which recognizes individuals who continue to unselfishly give of their time and resources to the Harlem Dowling community. Mrs. Migdol, the wife of board member Gerald S. Migdol, Esq., is a tireless civic leader and dedicated volunteer at Harlem Dowling’s food pantry.
In addition to the festive award presentation the evening also included live performances by budding singer Danielle Quinn, internationally renowned recording artist Cyndee Peters and folk group They Call Me Lucy.
The evening ended with a surprise performance by R&B crooner and former lead singer of 80’s hit duo The System, Michael “Mic” Murphy who brought the house down with his timeless classic hit “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. Earlier this year Harlem Dowling announced its capitol building fund which calls for the construction of the agency’s first standalone facility since the closing of the Colored Orphan Asylum nearly 40 years ago.
The new facility will be a green building that will include approximately 15,000 sq. ft. of dedicated office space and an additional 45,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated for low-income and subsidized housing. Ground breaking for the 8 – 9 story building, which will be located on the corner of 127th Street and Adam Clayton Powerll Jr. Blvd, is anticipated to take place in 2012, with an occupancy date of 2013.
Today Harlem Dowling remains one of New York City’s leading multi-service agency providing 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.
The agency remains true to its old tradition of uplifting humanity and annually serves over 2,500 inner-city children and their families.
Photo credit:# 1: Pictured Left to Right – Michael K. Williams; Cheryl Wills; Harlem Dowling Board VP Jaye Smith; Harlem Dowling Executive Director Dorothy Worrell; Harlem Dowling Board President Tim Mulvaney display proclamation from the City of New York; # 2: 2011 Gala Awards hosts Cheryl Wills and Michael K. Williams;# 3: Alumni from the former Colored Orphan Asylum which later became Harlem Dowling West Side Center for Children and Family Services; # 4: 175th Anniversary 2011 Gala Awards honorees left to right – Dr. James McKnight; Sheri Migdol; and Dr. Jeffrey Gardere; # 5: Internationally renowned recording artist singer Cyndee Peters; # 6: Legendary R&B recording artist Michael “Mic” Murphy performed his classic hit “Don’t Disturb this Groove”; # 7: budding singer Danielle Quinn shared her musical talent; # 8: Architect Samir S. Shalt and Harlem Dowling Chief Operating Officer Roy Harewood admire rendering of Harlem Dowling’s future home; #9: Board Member Dr. Petersen, MD (Center), congratulates Dr. James McKnight (Left) and Dr. Jeffrey Gardere (Right). by Images of Us and written by Keith L.Forest.