Many of us have a summer we will never forget, and that one supervisor we will always remember. For Joyce Vastola, both of those occurred at the same time.
Right after graduating from Columbia University's School of Social Work more than four decades ago, she began serving as the division head of summer programming at Children's Aid's sites in New York City. It was an enriching and formative experience that inspired her to become a school psychologist, and the lessons she learned helped shape her career immensely. All these years later, her supervisor — Barry Morowitz — left an indelible impression on her.
"43 years later I still reflect and use many of the lessons that Barry taught me," Joyce said.
Joyce later married her husband, Ray, and together they have two daughters named Julie and Elisabeth. The desire to give back clearly runs in the family, because Julie felt drawn to volunteer at our Frederick Douglass Center — one of the locations where Joyce oversaw summer program just a generation before.
"That was a profound experience for her and changed her life in significant ways," Joyce said. "She loves children and was able to form strong bonds and connections with her students."
One memory in particular stuck out to Julie: When she taught the students about Harriet Tubman. They discussed issues of race and privilege in an open, meaningful, and important way.
"It was a powerful lesson. The research shows that in tutoring situations both the children and the tutors learn from each other," Joyce said.
Aside from Julie's volunteerism, Joyce and Ray have helped our children learn and grow by generously supporting our work for nearly 30 years. Ray has also involved his employers — Travel Planners and Quikbook — in corporate partnerships with Children's Aid. Joyce and Ray have also attended many Children's Aid events, and Joyce has organized holiday drives and shared best practices with our mental health clinicians over the years.
As we all know, the most meaningful types of relationships are the ones where both parties support and enrich each other. For Children's Aid and the Vastola family, the support goes both ways — Joyce began her career with us, Julie expanded her world view in our volunteerism program, and Ray developed meaningful partnerships — and the entire family continues to invest in our children's growth.
In many ways, the Vastola family and Children's Aid grew up together — and importantly, we have learned from one another. Because of this friendship, the Vastola family decided to make the most meaningful type of investment a supporter of an organization can make — a planned gift — which ensures that children grow up healthy and strong for generations to come.