Teen Library Counselor Honored With PACEsetter Award
The Teen Library on Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway is more than a place for young people – ages 12 to 17 – to do homework and socialize. At times it is also a place of refuge. On February 28th the work at the library was recognized when its youth counselor was honored at the 2013 PASEsetter Awards dinner and fundraising gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan.
Kim McNeil-Capers, who was one of five awardees, works with more than 200 young people every day.
“For some teens, we aren’t ‘after’ school; we are ‘instead of’ school, and their only contact with a structured, community-based program,” said McNeil-Capers as she accepted her award. “For some, we are their surrogate family, too.”
As she accepted her award the youth counselor spoke of an incident that happened on Thanksgiving Eve of 2012.
“An 18 year-old special needs teen and regular at the library started crying at closing time,” said McNeil-Capers. “Through his tears, he revealed that he had been kicked out of his house earlier that day and had nowhere to go. My colleagues and I worked with the NYC Restoration Center and the 101st Precinct, and made it our Thanksgiving eve’s mission to help a homeless teen find safety and security.”
Joanne King, a spokesperson for the Queens Library said that McNeil-Capers was nominated by former PACEsetter winner Lambert Shell, the Director of Programs and Services at the Queens Library, “for her extraordinary, life-changing work at Queens Library for Teens.”
In an email to The Wave on Tuesday McNeil-Capers said, “I feel Awesome. I work with a great team at Queens Library.”
The PACEsetter Awards are sponsored by The Partnership for After School Education (PASE) which is a child-focused organization that promotes and supports quality after-school programs, particularly those serving young people from underserved communities.
The other winners were Esther Grant-Walker, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center Inc.; Sophia Lerdahl, STOKED; Anna Morgan-Mullane, Children of Promise, NYC; and Mervin “Rock” Rosa, New Heights Youth, Inc.