Bringing Holiday Happiness to Yonkers Families with Darnay Holmes
A small group of Yonkers My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) students and mentors came together on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 with New York Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes to provide Thanksgiving meals to four local families in need. Mr. Holmes and his partner Shaniece Flynn, Founders of the Chosen One youth development organization, joined those assembled in the Yonkers Public Library Riverfront Auditorium via Zoom. The pair provided the meals which included gift cards donated by Stew Leonard’s. Yonkers’ New York State MBK Fellows hosted the gathering and presented the meals.
“We are grateful to Darnay and Chosen One for supporting our families and caring for our young people. Partnerships like this one are crucial to the success of the MBK movement,” said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Schools, Yonkers MBK Co-Chair. “This event is another example of our young people’s commitment to the community and to one another. Despite difficult circumstances and social distancing requirements, they remain connected and determined to achieve their dreams. As we often say in MBK, ‘We lift as we climb.’”
Mr. Holmes began working with Yonkers MBK this summer. In June, the rookie NFL player led a virtual group empowerment session with My Brother’s Keeper students from around the District. Ms. Flynn led a separate meeting with Yonkers’ girls and young women.
“Even though we haven’t been in touch in person yet, you guys are always on my mind,” Mr. Holmes told Yonkers’ young men on Tuesday.
Giovanni Almonte, one the student hosts, enthusiastically announced he had begun “Operation Clean the Neighborhood,” a community service project created with MBK Fellow Demetrie Gonzalez as part of the state leadership development program. Their mentors Jonathan Alvarez and John Cabrera of 914UNITED Inc., a youth leadership nonprofit, attended the event with Verris Shako, Yonkers City Court Judge Elect.
“That community service project, now that’s your passion. That was already inside of you,” said Mr. Holmes. “There are ways to see who you want to be in this life. You never knew you wanted to be at the forefront helping others in the community. Now you know that.”
As a mentor, he offered additional words of guidance:
Give yourself that confidence. We live in a world where we are always judging ourselves, neglecting ourselves. Don’t be hard on yourselves. You might have a good day this day and a bad day the other day but you’re still the same person. Keep on moving forward.
Stay in tune with yourself and your priorities. Everything in this life comes with a price. You want that new PlayStation? There’s a price tag on that. Make sure you stay devoted to your family, god, most importantly to yourselves.
Sometimes we have to do things that, as a 17 or 18-year-old, we shouldn’t have to do, like be the man of the house. But at the end of the day we have the capabilities so it’s our job to do them.
Always be thankful, not just this holiday but every day. Be thankful for what you have, for waking up each and every morning.
MBK Fellow Michael Haws reflected on the event. “It felt really good giving back to the community,” he said. “Helping people out and bringing people together was really inspiring and makes me want to do it more often.”