The Park Slope Parents Gratitude Jar: 2020 Edition

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What a year! There are lots of things we want to leave in our rearview mirror for 2020, but there are also a lot of people in the Park Slope Parents circle who kept us going and growing. As we look ahead to what HAS to be a better 2021, we wanted to take a minute to thank our awesome community members and some of our great helpers for what they’ve given us in 2020.

PSP Members We Love!


Mister Rogers tells us to notice the helpers, and we had those in spades this year. To start off the 2020 Gratitude Jar, we’d love to thank a few folks who went above and beyond the call of duty.



Our brand-new parents who joined our Birth Experience Zooms and helped let our expectant parents know what’s on the horizon. It took a pandemic to show us how awesome it was to have new parents—who likely wouldn’t have been able to join in person—meet up with expectant parents to share their wisdom. Your input helped develop our PSP Birthing and Beyond Toolkit. These helpful folks include: Margaret Nagarajan, Jessica Hahn, Elia Monte-Brown, Ari Autumn, Zoe Geller, Jenny de Oliveira, Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau, Ruthie Jehu-Appiah, Bianca Fox, Shannon McLaughlin, Alex Wynne, Casey Papp, Emily Rinebold, Hila Mehr, Junette Teng, Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Erica Miller, Jill Rappaport, Susie Middleton-Leong, Elise Batscha, Kathryn Lisa, Abigail Reddel, Wesley Gross, Louise O'Neill, Madeline Clapps, Marylen Massen, Michelle Weiss, Stacy Holbrook, Gwen Radsh (go twins!), Dahlia Bouari, Heidi Kim, Ingrid Haftel, Marian Paredes, Elena Avramov, Kate Shutzengel, Leah Charlesworth, Rachel Steinberg, and SarahJean Billeiter.



Dad 411 Dudes. Our monthly dad/partner event where expectant and new folks get to talk about what life is REALLY like continued on strong with the help of therapist Brendan Hackett and dads Sebastian and Akshay. Akshay alsohelped fatherless fathers connect. Folks who want to discuss the more serious side of fatherhood can do that in the Deep Dive Dads group thanks to Eric. Raphael and Burkett kept soccer night going at the Old Stone House. 




Special thanks to the countless people who reached out to those in need through our Anonymous Post messages. Whether you helped members who know the pain of pregnancy loss, postpartum depression, domestic violence, divorce or a myriad of other issues, know that your messages were deeply appreciated. Your emails (a large majority of which were never posted on the group given their sensitive nature) were a salve to the souls who needed it. 


The awesome folks on our Single/Divorced/Separated (SDS) group. The pandemic was hard on everyone, but topping the list of difficult juggling acts was managing life with kids who split their time between two households. There were so many people who stepped up to provide support, organize Zooms and outings, and help other folks who could truly understand the ins and outs of SDS parenthood during this time!


Ryan Delorge took his monthly poker games online and added a charitable side to gameplay. He’s helped countless organizations—from mutual aid groups to soup kitchens to homeless shelter—to the tune of $50,000.



Andrea Robinson kept us excited about catching up on our reading for PSP Zoom book clubs. By the way—we have a new Books & Media Group that we will be firing up next year!


The Front Steps Project photographers (who are also PSP members!) including Shrutti, Sarah, Marc, Vanessa, Leslie, Adina, and Jeff. The project raised over $3 million for individuals and local businesses all over the country. 




The PSP Crafters group, including Micheline, Kari, Meredith, Laura, and countless others, made masks and rainbow bracelets and helped with countless Operation Feel Good outpourings.  


The Camps and Afterschool business group! Because of the lack of communication from the city and state, plus the need for extra PPE and safety measures, smaller camps and after-school programs had to rethink their whole business models. In response to the new reality, Peira Moinester from Brooklyn Music Factory helped keep our summer camps and after-school group businesses from shuttering and helped us all keep smiles on our faces. 



Our Working Moms Crew was led by events experts Nadia, Amy, and Elena and strengthened by Back to Work 411 panelists O’Hagan, Eleanor, Mary, Chandra, Nicole, and Lisa


The PSP Clothing Swap Team. Our March 7th PSP Swap was a great success thanks to our awesome organizing team (Amyjoy, Paul, MC, Andrea, Joanna, Amy) and volunteers. Those of you who came got riches untold and didn’t have to shop online once the pandemic hit and stores had backlogs of orders for months. We’re looking forward to our next swap in (fingers crossed) late 2021!



The other heroes who helped Park Slope Parents not just survive but thrive. Nicole, who helped the African American & Caribbean Heritage Zooms; Chris, who got the PSP LGTBQ+ group meeting up; Shelly and Yoko, who made their baby groups even more awesome; Diana, who picked up baby gear donations; Steve, who picked up UK Cadbury eggs for the Brit Group; and countless others who organized group meetups on Zoom, in parks, and at playgrounds. Know how much we appreciate everything you’ve done!


Our Career Networking Heroes, who helped us write resumes, find jobs, network better, sit up straighter at our desks (do that now!), manage our ADHD, use LinkedIn, and so much more. Thanks to Anne Baker, Rachel Garrett, Bridget McGovern, Janet Raiffa, Rahti Gorfien, Dan Cayer, and Alan Stein. By the way, we’re starting a Job Search Support System group for those looking fon r something NEW—so be sure to join us in the new year!



Jessica Fields made it easy for us to help feed our local hospital workers for months and months with what was first “Meals for Methodist,” then grew into Meals for Brooklyn Healthcare Heroes to the tune of almost $140,000. Since each meal delivery costs between $500 and $1500, that figure represents—conservatively speaking—at least 100 meals. Thanks for helping, and thanks for keeping local restaurants in business!


People who helped us stay sane


Maintaining our mental health was a challenge in a year where home became the office, daycares and preschools were closed, K-12 shut down, and college kids were sent home. PSP rallied a host of mental health professionals to keep us as sane as possible in an unprecedented year. 


Paige Bellenbaum from The Motherhood Center helped expectant and new parents transition in a time when pregnancy and new parenthood looked different from what any of us had experienced before. You can find the mental health takeaways here on our website, including advice on how to handle feelings of disappointment and decision fatigue and how to ask for help. The Motherhood Center is there for you if you’re struggling pre- or postpartum (check out their PSA here). We look forward to continuing our work with Paige and TMC in 2021. 


Jada Shapiro and the folks from Boober and Birth Day Presence came through for expectant parents with a Q&A that helped us weather the storm of worry when birth partners and doulas were banned from the labor and delivery rooms. Jaqueline Worth and Julie Capiola helped us early on with their presentation on Delivery and Infancy During COVID-19.Jada helped create the Park Slope Parents Birthing and Beyond Toolkit, which continues to be an amazing resource for getting through pregnancy and birth at any time. 


Mandi White-Ajmani, PhD, from Small Brooklyn Psychology, and her great team of mental health professionals (Sam Jeannite, PsyD and Jill DePrieto, LCSW) ran webinars on everything from Managing Difficult Behaviors to Decision-Making During Covid to just getting through the day at the beginning of the pandemic (find some great reminders on that here). 


Fara Jones, MA, LCSW, helped us better understand the inner workings of our adolescent teens, accept the fact that pushing parents away is a natural part of the process, and find ways to keep our own sanity in check as we make sure theirs is sound. A write-up of her webinar—which includes adolescent development, living in uncertain times, and coping strategies—can be found here.  


Dr. John Brennan joined us when the virus hit NYC to help calm nerves around babies’ development as well as being a “boots on the ground” source for information about hospital closings and openings. 


Rebecca Sachs soothed us with our Loving Kindness Meditation as well as helping people who were triggered by wearing a mask to (literally) breathe through it. 


Dr. Philippa Gordon and her team came to the rescue not once but twice and calmed us down with her “Ask the Pediatrician” webinars in March and May. While we still worry (we are parents, after all!), we can thank her for helping us better understand the difference between real worries and those we can “put in a box on the top shelf” for now. She also brought on her awesome team of RNs—Kristen Ebert, CPNP, PMHS and Erica Hahn, CPNP—to help us decide if playgrounds and day camps were safe in the summer. 


Beth Manitsky, LMSW, hosted our Working Moms Mental Health Check-In, where she offered some tools and advice to put everything into perspective and help us recognize that we’re not going through it alone.


Nanika Coor, PsyD, joined us for a webinar on Managing Transition: Back to School During COVID, where she touched on collective grief, reframing challenging behavior, and managing expectations.


Joey Ackerman, LCSW-R, hosted Mental Health Check-Ins for Small Business Owners  and the STILL HOME for the Holidays Mental Health Check-In, where she shared wisdom on handling the realities of this holiday season and accepting the challenging emotions it may bring.


Our essential workers. From the start and continuing to infinity, these folks have kept us sane, fed, and supplied. 



Our Physical Fitness and Health Heroes



The PSP Exercise Classes. While there are a host of virtual classes available on YouTube and elsewhere, our PSP classes helped parents of any body type with their mental as well as physical health. We ran a number of different online exercise classes this year, but Dara Fastag and Matthew McCurdy deserve special mention and will join us in 2021 for more community exercising. Dara helped us stay in shape and sane with her pandemic Pilates (sign up HERE), and Matthew taught us how to look at our pantry in a new light with his Soup Can Sweat classes (sign up HERE.) Thanks also goes to: Julia Arenson, who helped with prenatal and postpartum classes as well as hosting a belly dancing for birthing event; Allie Fraase for full-body workouts; Kevin Torres for his early morning HIIT class; and Leah Matthews for a Yoga Flow class. 


There were so many ways our community pitched in to help this holiday season, and some amazing Mutual Aid Groups that stepped up to make that easy in 2020. You can find our full list here and get a head start on giving back in 2021. 



People who kept us smiling


Suzi Shelton’s daily shows, fundraisers, generous smile, and, of course, Cinnamon Bear kept parents and kids laughing, engaged, and forgetting about the pandemic, even if just for a little while. The Celebrate Moms Virtual Family Concert she organized was amazing! (She can also come to your next Zoom birthday party or teach your kids music online this winter!) 



Beatrix Gruver (and Mom Tracy) helped us make Friday Afternoon Bubble Parties something we could look forward to during the lockdown!



Jamie and the Adventure Players Live Gang held a Preschool Playdate for PSP that kept us singing and dancing. 



People who kept us educated


Here’s to the people who kept us abreast of all the latest information and happenings—from government aid programs to nanny pay to how to help ourselves and our kids.


Thanks to Estee Ward of Make the Road, Kathie Carroll from the New York Commission on Human Rights,and Elizabeth Saylor of A Better Balance for hosting Employee Rights in the Time of Covid-19, where our experts addressed pressing questions around employee rights, Paid Family Leave, and Paid Sick Leave.


Erik and Emily Orton hosted our webinar on Is Homeschooling Right for You?, where they shared their family’s own educational experiences and offered guidance for parents considering alternatives to traditional schooling.


Charlie Bonello and Ben Newton of Vivvi joined us for Returning to Childcare and Learning, where they offered insights on making a safe transition back to in-person education.


Laura Fischer, Esq., hosted a webinar on Planning For The Future: Wills, Trusts & More, where she laid out the why, what, and how of creating a will and detailed what you need in order to provide the most security for yourself and your family. 


Alexandra Como Saghir and Tyson Lewis joined us for Real Talk About Real Estate, where they demystified the role of a real estate broker and offered straightforward information to members on buying, selling, and renting. 


Rachel Lotus gave us The Talk and helped us figure out what to say to our kids about sex and their sexual identity.   


Joyce Szuflita from NYC School Help was instrumental in helping us keep our wits around school changes, applications, and so much more. 



Rachel Coates and Bill Smith shared their vast knowledge about applying to and paying for college.


Mary-Lynn Fiske and her Positive Parenting webinar helped us stay strong and resilient as we help our kids be the same.  


Molly Townsend for her Own Your Worth webinar to help empower us to use our money in amazing ways. 


Katharine Hill from UpNext taught us the ins and outs of remote learning in a webinar at the beginning of the lockdown. 


Joanna Tallentire and Mark Caserta from the Park Slope 5th Avenue BID helped businesses stay open, encouraged people to shop local, educated all of us on what was open when. 


Last but certainly not least...


As always, a special shout-out to the Park Slope Parents Team. We are a staff of seven, and everyone has been so wonderful over the past eight months that I can’t express enough appreciation for all of their hard work. Going from 300 in-person events to virtual events has taken Herculean efforts, and Dorothy and Carla, our Events Team, have been magnificent. In a typical year, Park Slope Parents has around 200 events organized by Dorothy and Carla, our Events Team. They pivoted from The Montrose, Prospect Park Grill, and Prospect Park (for a time) to Zoom. Talya and Sean keep the website well-edited and membership running smoothly. Colleen continues to do an awesome job helping our community stay connected on our specialty groups as well as picking up slack in so many other areas. Rachel, the backbone of PSP, continues to approve messages at lightning speed and run the advertising team flawlessly. Her “can do” spirit has kept me going more than she knows. 



Looking forward to 2021!


After a crazy year, we want to take this time to express our gratitude to all of you for your continued support and ability to adapt to "the new, better normal.” Going into 2021, we are looking forward to things opening up, new vaccines coming out, and (fingers crossed) seeing all of your wonderful faces in person again. Have a wonderful New Year, and thank you once more to all of the people who got us through 2020!



*** pandemic-specific