Welcome. We are students in Communications 218, a journalism class at Lehman College. Our classroom is in Room 122. This course is part of the Summer Arts Festival of College Now, a program designed to help high school students earn college credits. Every day, we report and write articles about our program, the school and the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Story That Wasn’t Told

By Zorana Kesar

Bronx, July 28 – Gloria Altieri, education director at Easter Seals Child Development Center, a social service organization in the South Bronx,stood in front of the journalism class at the LehmanCollege Now Program, ready for questions and eager totell her story. The woman who at first glance seemedto have a tough exterior quickly proved she was asoft-hearted and caring individual. Her story was farmore intriguing than a news article about her that appeared the NewYork Times would suggest. There was so much more to Ms.Altieri thatthe New York Times reporter, David Gonzales, failed toreport. The more she talked about her life at EasterSeals, the more the students understood thefrustration Ms.Altieri feels with Bronx healthcare andthe treatment her friends receive at the hand of healthcare providers and administrators.

Ms.Altieri was quick to express her love for theBronx and all the people in it. “Being here is absolute heaven,” she said. The men and women she met in theBronx are, in her opinion, “amazing.” Ms. Altieri also mentioned that the loyalty she’s witnessed amongst thewomen in the Bronx, “doesn’t happen anywhere.”

As the conversation, which included comments from the students as well as Ms. Altieri’s, went along, the students got a more detailed description of what Easter Seals was all about and what made this program so dearto Ms. Altieri’s heart. Working as the educationdirector at this program, she gets to play, learn, andteach “autistic” babies between the ages of 18 months to3 year olds.

The smile on Ms. Altieri’s face warmed myheart because it showed how much these babies meant to her. It was a meeting that gave us, thestudents, an insight into Ms. Altieri’s life and thestruggles she faces on a daily basis. I’ve learned alot about her personality and who she is as a person.The passion she has for her work and helping herfriends is obvious just by listening to the way shespeaks about those subjects. The meeting with Ms.Altieri finished with success and she told everyone,“Come and visit sometime.”
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For Social Workers, Bronx is Home

By Michelle Yakobson

Education Director Gloria Altieri, a social worker at the Easter Seals Child Development Center on 167th Street, paid a visit to the College Now journalism class at Lehman College on Thursday, July 28th to respond to an article by David Gonzalez of the New York Times called “In Bronx, a Fight for Health and Dignity.”

Gloria describes working with special education students as her “biggest joy,” and traces back her motivation to the learning problems endured by her eldest son— who now works in Hollywood and collaborated with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the movies Ray and Collateral Damage. The dream-come-true of recovery displayed by Gloria’s son inspired her to work with babies who come from abusive backgrounds, right here in the Boogie-down Bronx.

“Services in the Bronx,” Gloria said, “are not up to par.” Why, then, do Gloria and other reputable social workers, choose to work in a borough that has less-than-perfect standards?

“I work here because of the people,” Gloria said with a smile. She describes her coworkers as a great support system that she “would never leave.” Gloria has met men and women who have changed her life, including her coworker, Yvonne Pagan. Ms. Pagan, who was shot in her neighborhood and thus suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, encountered despicable behavior when seeking help at a Bronx hospital. The drawn-out waiting time and apathy at Lincoln Medical Center were “big problems” in the eyes of Ms. Altieri.

Pagan is certainly not the only Bronxite to suffer from unfair treatment during a time of crisis. At the end of April this year, my mother was crossing a street during a green light in her favor, bringing a shopping cart full of groceries home. As she crossed, my mother saw a sanitation truck headed in her direction, but before she could move away, it drove straight into her shopping cart. The impact caused her to fall onto her shoulder and roll down the pavement, while the life-saving cart was crushed under the vehicle. She quickly stood up and asked the driver if she could call my father, but he curtly said he would compensate for the damages with twenty dollars and nobody would have to know what happened. Of course, my mother found a pay-phone and phoned my father. In turn, he called 9-1-1 and the EMT quickly arrived on the scene. Following her drop-off at the hospital, my mother was notified that nothing but inflammation was detectable at the time, and an MRI would be necessary to assess any sort of serious damage. She hastily filled out the forms for insurance purposes, hoping that her pain could be eased as soon as possible. Three weeks later, after going for a checkup, my mother accidentally saw the untouched forms still lying in her medical folder.

When she complained to the secretary of the office about total lack of regard for her dire situation, the secretary kept replying with a shrug and a “this isn’t my job” excuse. There was not a single receptionist who would speak to my mother about what occurred, and every person just referred her to another indifferent individual. Finally, my mother saw her doctor and explained the situation; without an apology, he threw the quickly-scribbled-on forms on her lap and quickly escorted her out of his office. Because of the protracted response time of the New York City Department of Health, my mother’s MRI was conducted only last week. She had to wait an absurd three months to find out if she might have a very serious medical condition.
Like Ms. Altieri, my entire family was incredibly disappointed with the inattention of the healthcare providers in our local Bronx hospital. However, we are very dedicated to local institutions and their improvement. Like Ms. Altieri, my sister is a social worker who practices in the distressed South Bronx. And for the same reason as Altieri, too— the people and the experience. “There is nothing more fulfilling,” my sister said with a grin, “than knowing you changed someone’s life for the better. Especially when that person has a hard time coming across someone who will.”

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