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Leake & Watts’ Annual Awards Gala Raises $550,000

Joyce Coppin Mondesire
Joyce Coppin Mondesire Photo Credit: Leake and Watts Services, Inc. on Facebook

YONKERS, N.Y. -- More than a half- million dollars was raised at a recent Leake & Watts fundraiser that honored one of longtime board members.

The Leake & Watts’ 2016 Annual Awards Gala, Oct. 27, raised $550,000 to help the agency provide support to its 11,000 clients, children, adults and families in New York.

Educator Joyce Coppin Mondesire, who joined the board of directors in 2005, was the honoree that evening.

Supporters had the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of individuals and families who have benefited from the agency’s wide range of services.

The organization offers an array of services, "from child welfare and foster care, to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, education, early childhood programs, juvenile justice services, to working with unaccompanied migrant children," said Alan Mucatel, the executive director.

"The one thing that ties it all together is the belief that all of us can rise from where we are today to a better place in the future,” he said.

Guests at the dinner got to hear a young woman talk of her journey from Leake & Watts Family Foster Care, to college.

She said only three percent of foster kids nationally achieve that and just one percent graduate from college.

The speaker is working towards her master's in social work today.

A video shown at the gala featured others who have benefited from the organization, including an adolescent whose improved academically at Leake & Watts’ Biondi School. 

Other stories were featured at the event where Mondeshire was presented with the Thelma Stackhouse Award for her service to the community. 

A resident of New York’s Upper West Side, Coppin Mondesire currently is a distinguished visiting professor in educational leadership at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry.

During a 46-year tenure at the New York Department of Education, Coppin Mondesire made her way from teacher to administrator, and served as superintendent for Brooklyn high schools for 14 years. 

From her work in special education to work with non-traditional and disadvantaged students, she devoted her career to ensuring that all children have their educational needs met and are best prepared for a successful life.

Coppin Mondesire became involved with Leake & Watts through her own work at Trinity Church in Manhattan, which was the original site of what was then called the Leake and Watts Orphan House in 1831. 

The relationship between Trinity Church and Leake & Watts remains close, and a board seat is reserved for a representative of the church under the agency’s 19th century by-laws. 

Coppin Mondesire, has been a a member of Trinity’s Congregational Council since 2005.

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