With “Waiting for ‘Superman’” recently released in New York and gaining media attention throughout the nation, viewers want to take part in the solution to fixing the broken school system. There are many children in New York City who could use additional mentorship and tutoring so that they can face the unfavorable odds of educational success not in hope, but in knowledge, strength and support. There are youth programs throughout the city that need help in providing guidance and friendship to children. Here is a list of organizations and ways to become involved in children’s lives:
New York Cares
New York Cares has year-round volunteer opportunities. It works with partner organizations to plan and manage 1,000 hands-on projects each month. Through the organization, volunteers can tutor and play sports with children as well as help revitalize parks and schools. There are volunteer events and longer-term projects lasting from six weeks to more than a year.
Oct.15 is New York Cares Day. The organization will have teams of 7,000 volunteer s paint classrooms and murals, organize libraries and fix playgrounds at 100 public schools throughout the boroughs. To get involved, visit newyorkcares.com.
This organization serves the East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant communities in Brooklyn. Through its various programs, the organization helps over 3,500 families annually. The organization has an early childhood program preparing toddlers for school and supporting parents. Additional programs offer after-school and summer service, which focus on literacy instruction to children in elementary and middle school. The organization also offers a four-year college prep program. Outside of these programs, there are still many additional community and family services that Groundwork provides.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
BBBS New York City divides its volunteer programs into different categories. Community and special priority programs include the traditional mentorship program as well as others aiding young mothers, offering friendship to disabled children and preventing youth from entering foster care. Site-based programs provide interaction with youth at school and various workplaces. Juvenile justice and special population programs help youth dealing with or facing incarceration as well as children aging out of the foster care system.
BBS also has specialized groups in the Big network, including an Asian Mentoring Committee, Latino Bigs and a Technology Committee.
Even while desiring to mentor youth, many abstain from doing so because they feel their demanding schedules leave them little time to commit to a child. This common problem wanes out many potential volunteers. Well, iMentor has designed a way to add flexibility in mentorship. Created to combat lack of mentors and lack of technology literacy in under-served communities, iMentor connects professionals with youth through a combination of e-mail and in-person interactions.
Alan Arkin is the s##t. He’s been in some of the worst comedies but his scenes are always hilarious – his turn as a nice-guy cop in So I Married an Axe Murderer is a standout performance in a movie that’s otherwise charming but forgettable. And Grosse Point Blank, one of my favorite movies of all time, features Alan Arkin in a supporting role as a harassed psychiatrist – and I don’t know what it is, something about the way he talks, but everything he says is hilarious.
He’s finally getting some of the recognition he’s deserved since the 70s, having recently won a Best Supporting Actor for his (yet again) show-stealing performance in Little Miss Sunshine. But the man deserves more than an Oscar – he deserves endless adulation, a legion of fawning fans. He ought to be at least as famous as Brad Pitt. If I saw Brad Pitt on the streets of New York, that’d be cool – hey, you know, Brad Pitt. But if I saw Alan Arkin, I would faint like a little girl. That’s how awesome he is.
Also: Five Overrated Actors
Jeffrey Tambor recieved some recognition for his turn as George Bluth in the critically acclaimed series Arrested Development. His work as the uncaring, immoral patriarch of the Bluth family was superb, but many people have already forgotten his brilliant acting as Hank Kingsley in The Larry Sanders Show – in which he played a completely different character, a pathetic, clueless talk-show sidekick. The man is ridiculously flexible and always hilarious – and is one of those rare actors who can imbue even the funniest characters with a strong pathos.
Despite this, most people wouldn’t even know his name, and probably wouldn’t even recognize his face – they’d probably confuse him with Dr. Phil. Jeffrey Tambor has all of the talent of the most well-known actors around today, but none of the fame.
Among Joss Whedon fans, Nathan Fillion is legend. Fillion is easily the best leading actor in any Whedon series. His turn as Mal Reynolds in Firefly makes David Boreanaz (Angel), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), and Elia Dushku (Dollhouse) look like rank amateurs. Nathan Fillion is effortlessly likeable, with brilliant comedic timing, a leading man’s looks, and a character actor’s subtle appreciation for the small moments that make great drama.
Yet for some reason, he has had trouble getting roles in non-Whedon works – all of his best roles are either in Buffy, Firefly, or Dr. Horrible. Nathan Fillion is now working as the lead in the detective show Castle, but, sadly, the show is not nearly up to his talents. His charm – as prodigious as it is – is basically the only reason to watch.
An opera major in college, and frequent choir member as well as stage actor, Alessandro Juliani was the man behind one of the most complex and well-written characters in television history – Battlestar Galactica’s Felix Gaeta. Gaeta, a brilliant technician and lieutenant for the voyaging Galactica fleet, was a courageous man with a profound sense of honor and duty, which he always followed – even when it led to tragedy. And Alessandro Juliani was pitch-perfect at every point throughout the show, his high points including his lonely, wistful singing in “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?” and his strange, poetic conversation with Baltar immediately before the gripping final scene of “Blood on the Scales.”
Next to the larger roles and more famous actors of Battlestar, though, Alessandro Juliani hardly gets any notice. His work is as outstanding as Edward James Olmos’ was, if not more so – even if it was only in a supporting role.
I’m fairly certain that including Zachery Levi might look stupid in a couple of years – he seems like the kind of guy who’ll probably be a superstar soon. He’s funny, charming, handsome, and full of odd little tics and nervous habits that never seem forced. I’ve been watching his current show, Chuck, for the past three years – and while this most recent season was pretty bad, Zachery Levi is game for anything. He’s a great lead who really seems to care for his fellow actors, and is capable of producing chemistry with nearly anyone. I hope either Chuck turns it around, or Zachery Levi finds something else worth his talents.
I love discovering great actors I’ve never seen before. When I was fourteen I first watched On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando, and ever since then I’ve become a bit of a performance geek – I love watching a great actor sink into a meaty role.
There are many highly esteemed actors nowadays – Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale – but I’d like to focus on some of the current actors I’ve seen who I don’t think have gotten the recognition that they deserve.
I’m including both movie performances and television performances. A great television performance is, I’d say, even tougher than a great movie performance – a lot of very good actors have seen themselves grow stale in the long-form narratives and repeated emotional arcs of a television series.