The Park Slope Parents Gratitude Jar: 2021 Edition

There’s been plenty of reflection this year on how things have changed. However, what hasn’t changed is the ability for people to come through adversity and support one another in making things better. Park Slope Parents bounced back in 2021 with even more meetups, meetings, webinars, concerts, and even our famous PSP Clothing Swap! This was all possible thanks to our members, community organizations, parenting experts and so many more.

The list below is by no means exhaustive, but it helps you get a sense of the people involved in making PSP great and the widespread gratitude we feel for the folks who have helped life feel more connected during this long pandemic year.

COMMUNITY-BUILDING EXTRAORDINAIRES

Thanks to everyone who:

  • Organized a meetup, ice cream social, tabletop gamer night, book group, sing-along, neighborhood meet-up or group class
  • Volunteered at the clothing swap
  • Shared their birth, college, back to work, and parenting experiences
  • Otherwise stepped up to spread joy and connection in the PSP community.

Special mentions: Erin H., Jess M., Jocelyn F., Jamie K., Portia F., Tim and Toyin, Christina S., Andrea R., Nicole A., Chris D., Elizabeth W., and Adam P.

Props to the awesome Single/Divorced/Separated group that took charge of their social lives and turned lemons into lemonade for so many folks. Clifford A., Claire S., Adrienne H., David H., A, Cliff, Ben, Kate R., and Erik G. were some of our super-volunteers, planning Chinatown food tours, playground meetups, pizza and ice cream, drinks out, babysitting connections, BBG outings, tacos, camping, Olympic watch parties, movies under the stars, and so much more. Separation and divorce can absolutely suck, but the PSP SDS group is a wonderful salve for the soul.

Big ups to the Grandparents Group with Judy S. leading the way for weekly meetups on Zoom and some in-person fun too!

Jess M. and Jocelyn F., along with countless others, helped make the 2021 Baby Groups full of joy and meet-ups.

True to their name, the Working Moms have been incredibly hard-working this year (NOTE: All moms are working moms! :) ), and it’s awesome to have Heather W. D. , Kelly R., Nadia G., and more on the team organizing escapes from work and kids.

The Dads Group is always a force to be reckoned with, and they managed to keep some great sporting and bonding events going throughout the pandemic this year. Ben M. was a soccer star, Raphael H. fronted Fatherless Fathers, Dominic P. initiated indoor basketball, and Brendan H. handled the 411 on Dad 411.

Representing the Single Parents by Choice, Lily D. and Sabine H. organized in-person get-togethers and kept the group thriving.

Nadira H., Rebecca B., and Tim & Toyin were meet-up champions for the African American Caribbean Group, while Nicole A. helped the group connect via Zoom.

More Culture/Heritage/Language Group superstars included Marynia K. of the Polish Group and Ville H. representing the Swedish Group.

Over in the Fort Greene Group, Erin H. started the Sunday sing-alongs in Fort Greene Park.

In Alan S., the Tech Group found not only a tech-savvy colleague but also an awesome community organizer.

Adam G. organized a great Parents with ADHD meet-up at Elk Cafe recently, thanks in part to Adina L.’s work getting the group off the ground earlier this year.

In more “new group” news, Jen T. brought together Sober and Sober-Curious Parents for their very first meet-up.

At Lizzie King’s, Sid K. could be found corralling creative writers for constructive criticism along with snacks, drinks, and bonding.

Chris R. and Ian didn’t need to game the system to set up super-fun meet-ups for the Tabletop Gamers—it all came naturally!

Cat G. led the charge for babywearing education, bringing PSP together with Wear Together NYC and introducing interested members to the basics of babywearing.

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2021 was a joyful year in that it saw us getting together again—especially in our parks and playgrounds, which played host to any number of baby group meet-ups, impromptu strolls, and family picnics. Prospect Park and the Old Stone House, in particular, were havens for our members this year, providing the perfect home for Summer Fridays, Movies Under the Stars, Suzi Shelton concerts, and so much more.

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Body art in Prospect Park

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Singing and bubbling at the Old Stone House

VOLUNTEER ANGELS

Every year Park Slope Parents finds ways to help folks in need. From coat drives to book drives to welcome bags for our local family shelter, folks gave of their hearts and their time to lessen the load for others.

Winter Gear Drive. When the Women-In-Need shelters asked specifically for 500 winter coats for kids, we thought it was a very tall order since in 2020 we delivered 400 adult and kids coats. However, Brooklyn delivered with 580 coats! Special thanks to Roots Cafe, the 5th Ave BID, The Old Stone House, Camp Friendship, South Brooklyn Mutual Aid, Park Slope Together, the Park Slope Civic Council, Grace Trinity Church, and so many more for helping us give back to the community!

Special Shout-out to Ryan Delorge for heading up the Poker Papas group and leading the charge to donate throughout the year. Ryan and the Poker Papas funded welcome bags for the new Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisolm Women's WIN family housing; donated food for Thanksgiving, winter gear items, N95 masks, shoes for the homeless, and backpacks; filled Gowanus Fridge; helped offset the pains of chemo and radiation through the Pink Chair drive; and so much more.

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Special thanks go to May 2021 parent Jess M. for organizing the 2021 parents and helping to make the holiday supply drive for CHiPS!

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What PSP has accomplished this year…

Outdoor clothing swap and post-swap party

September saw a return to our The PSP Clothing Swap! The outdoors, a perfect day, a marvelous organizing team (Amyjoy, Paul, MC, Andrea, Joanna, Amy), and our enthusiastic volunteers helped things go off without a hitch. We had timed entry (wow, was that successful!), plenty of clothes to peruse, and we loved being able to help recycle perfectly great usable items. Whitney B. even took leftovers to Ft. Greene Park for a post-swap party! Special thanks to Kim and the Old Stone House for supporting us in making this happen.

We hope to be back and better than ever with our next swap in late February or early March 2022!

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Swapping under the sun.

 

Website re-launch

In November, we said “sweet dreams” to the old PSP website after more than 15 years and launched a shiny new version with improved navigation and mobile usability, including built-in MAPS to help members find daycares, schools, and local businesses close to home. Massive shout-out to Ella R. for her web design skills, UX insights, and collaborative spirit—we couldn’t have done it without her.

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Notice any bugs or other creepy-crawlies on the new site? Report them here—your feedback is much appreciated.

 

Community event partnerships

We were fortunate enough to collaborate with orgs and spaces across Brooklyn this year to bring body paints, bubbles, and general joy to a wide range of events.

Thanks to the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (and particularly our contacts Claudia Rincon and Chad Purkey) for reserving the corner of Myrtle and Hall for us on weekends throughout their Summer Fridays series. We had a blast posting up with our bubble potion and meeting folks from Fort Greene and beyond.

Donate to the Myrtle Neighbors Fund here!

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Mixing bubble juice on Myrtle Avenue

Summer Movies Under the Stars was once again a highlight of the season, and we were happy to float our bubbles across Prospect Park’s Long Meadow in preparation for classics such as Jumanji and Black Panther. Special shout-out to Deborah Kirschner for making it happen.

Support Prospect Park here!

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Bubble Man Evan on the job

A mile or two to the west, we had an awesome time at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Summer Movies with a View—thanks to Katherine Gray and Eveline Chang-Fritsch for bringing us on. That view of the skyline from BBP is truly unmatched!

Donate to Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy here!

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Are you tired of bubble photos yet? We’re not!

EDUCATION AND SUPPORT SUPERSTARS

We’re extremely grateful to the many educators and experts who have lent us their talents and time. It was a banner year for webinars and workshops, with a wealth of learning available for all stages of the parenting journey, helping PSP live up to our promise of being there for families “from womb to tomb.”

Are you a good enough parent? 2021 saw the launch of our Rethinking Parenting series featuring Nancy McDermott (author of The Problem with Parenting), Michaeleen Doucleff (author of Hunt, Gather, Parent), and Lenore Skenazy (president of Let Grow), who discussed today’s high-stress parenting culture and envisioned a future in which we can all be more calm about our parenting choices, more trusting of ourselves as parents, and more unified as a parenting community. The first Zoom was so popular that we had Part Two. Stay tuned for more information about our NEW Rethinking Parenting Group!

Potties, sleep, discipline, talking and more. Mary-Lynn Fiske introduced parents to the concept of Positive Discipline, sharing non-punitive ways to encourage and empower our children and ourselves. Melina Gac Levin joined PSP for two edifying workshops on Mindful Potty Training and Sleep in the First Year, while Devorah Heitner, PhD helped us foster healthy relationships with media and technology for our kids. For families aiming to raise their children with more than one language, Jennifer Wilkin and Dr. Sarah Creider provided practical strategies for encouraging multilingual fluency. Rachel Lotus gave parents of elementary-aged kids The Talk 2.0, showing us how to guide kids toward healthy choices and sexual empowerment. And for families with fourth- to twelfth-graders, Katherine Hill shared crucial wisdom on how our kids really learn, setting folks up for a successful return to IRL school.

Jada Shapiro and the folks from Boober and Birth Day Presence were once again a wellspring of information for our expectant parents, hosting Q&As and sharing insights on childbirth, doulas, postpartum prep, lactation, and much more. For those families whose babies arrived early, Sarah DiGregorio held a conversation for families about premature birth, shedding light on the NICU journey and what life after the NICU looks like for babies and their families.

2021 was the year of “the great reshuffling,” with folks of all ages rethinking their careers and making strides toward a path that felt right for them. Janet Raiffa was a huge help for anyone whose resume needed a touch-up, while Peira Moinester from Brooklyn Music Factory led a meeting for summer camp and after-school professionals. And back in March when the “reshuffle” was just beginning, our Back to Work 411 panelists, including Elizabeth W., Asya G., Heidi K., and Sara O. generously volunteered their time to share experiences and advice with parents anticipating a return to the workforce. 

In the midst of the ongoing health crisis, Dr. Philippa Gordon, our longtime medical liaison, brought her wise and reassuring presence to the forums for another year, continuing to jump in whenever an expert opinion was needed. This year, Philippa also made the exciting move of joining a new consortium—you can now find Philippa and her team at Allied Pediatrics of Cobble Hill!

Emotional and physical health are closely tied, and we were lucky to have an amazing team of mental health professionals helping to support families as we processed 2020 and dealt with the new challenges brought by 2021.

Paige Bellenbaum, LMSW, from The Motherhood Center was once again a rock for new parents navigating the ups and downs of the journey, while Mandi White-Ajmani, PhD, and her team at Small Brooklyn Psychology (Sam Jeannite, PsyD, and Jill DePrieto, LCSW) offered advice on fostering harmony in the family at all ages and stages.

Teen-whisperer Fara Jones, MA, LCSW, gave us valuable insights on what teens have been going through during the pandemic, and Michael Davidovits, PhD, LCSW, offered strategies to help us stay connected while getting more comfortable with our teens’ greater need for independence. A particular pain point for families with kids of all ages was re-adjusting to in-person schooling, and Danielle Bocchino, EdM, LMHC, led us through it with grace in her Back-to-School Mental Health Check-In.
Support abounded this year for those of us with elderly family members: Dr. Mark Nathanson and Minda Cutcher led a mental-health check-in for parents with aging parents, Raquel Perlman from Heights & Hills shed light on caregiver and home care options as well as joining our Sandwich Generation Caregiver Support Groups, and Gabrielle Gatto and Dr. Preeti Saigal brought PSP together with Green-Wood to present compassionate and age-appropriate ways to talk to kids about death.

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With our heads full of learning and new ideas, we were especially grateful for the folks who helped us nurture hobbies, stay active, and get out in the world. Sam Lewis, master gardener at the Old Stone House, hosted a Zoom to help us prep our plant babies for the winter. Jennifer Brilliant led Cancer/Illness Warriors of all shapes and sizes, stages, and remissions in a healing yoga practice. Our fitness folks, Dara Fastag, Matthew McCurdy, Danella Garcia Abrahams, and Janet Li kept us moving and sweating even in the chilly pandemic months. James, Derya, Gabrielle, and Harry brought PSP together with Green-Wood Cemetery for our famous stroller tours, helping families and their babies enjoy the beauty around us right here in Brooklyn.

 

BRILLIANT BUSINESSES

As businesses came back to life over the spring and summer, they also welcomed PSP members back with open arms, providing spaces for our baby and specialty groups to gather and enjoy the bounty of food and drink that abounds in our borough. With the Omicron variant presenting new challenges for businesses of all kinds, now—as always—is a great time to shop, eat, and sip local! Remember to order directly from restaurants when you can rather than using delivery apps so that the full profit goes to your neighbors.

Sip & Play and Brooklyn Game Lab played host to our tabletop game nights, giving parents a place to unwind and play the old-fashioned way. The Dads Group found its home for Dad 411 at Lizzie King’s and Dads + Babies Meet-Ups at Ciao, Gloria, as well as bonding over German cuisine at Black Forest or beers and burgers at Franklin Park. Ottava was an awesome choice for the Working Moms to get to know each other during their popular Wine Nights series.

FancyFree and Alta Calidad earned rave reviews from our 2021 Babies group leaders—thanks to these venues for not only being super accommodating and lovely but also providing heated dining sheds and lots of sidewalk space for strollers. Ample Hills, Blue Marble, Casa Azul, Wild East Brewing, and Pig Beach also served as wonderful meet-up spots for the 2021 groups during these crucial months of pre-baby and early-parenthood bonding.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of the businesses who bought advertising to help keep our staff and our initiatives going strong. Remember: When you support our advertisers, you support Park Slope Parents.

 

MUSICAL MAVENS AND SUMMER FRIDAY SUPERHEROES

 We love a good party here at Park Slope Parents, and we were lucky to have an amazing roster of artists and musicians who kept us dancing, singing, and celebrating throughout the summer and fall.

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Dr. Alex at the Sugar Bowl.

Our Summer Fridays in Prospect Park series kicked off with Hopalong Andrew, who strummed and lassoed his way into our hearts. True to form, Dr. Alex had us grinnin’ and groovin’ all afternoon. The folks from Gum Tree Tunes were experts at engaging little ones through song, Jenny Luna and Joanne Derwin of One World Project encouraged us to be global citizens, and Alton Aimable and Tropical Fete introduced kids to a fascinating new instrument: steel pans!

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Steel panning with Tropical Fete.

A few steps to the west at the Old Stone House, we were thrilled to partner with Suzi Shelton for another round of the Jack & Friends Family Music Playground Series, featuring the fantastic talents of not only Suzi and Cinnamon Bear but also local musicians including T.J. Robinson, Chris Johnson, Chiara Fasi, and Meitar Forkosh. Suzi’s music celebrates diversity, inclusion, and kindness, and she’s available to book this winter!

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Suzi & friends and fans at the Old Stone House.

 

Our list would not be complete without these folks

Many thanks to Marc Goldberg and Shrutti Garg for all the awesome photos—you helped us make beautiful memories to hold onto! Marc handled photography for our Nanny Appreciation Day in June, while Shrutti took snaps at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn concert, where PSP was a media sponsor.

Mary Knapp of The Nightingale Fam gets a special shout-out from our baby groups—parents tell us, “her baby music classes are wonderful and she’s a rock star too!”

Much appreciation goes to NCOs Maureen Marzano and Elizabeth Medina from Sector “Boy” as well as all the NCOs in the 78th and 72nd Precincts who helped us get cars moved, take reports, ensure better security for our businesses and homes, help keep delivered packages from being stolen,  and generally feel safer in our community. 

A special shout out to teachers, staff, crossing guards, principals and everyone else that keeps our schools going. They are handling COVID mandates, mask protocols, shifts between hybrid, Zoom, and in-person instruction, and so much more. Thank you!

 

PLACES AND SPACES THAT MAKE BROOKLYN SPECIAL

PSP truly could not do what we do were it not for the fabulous parks, playgrounds, public spaces, museums, libraries, and organizations that welcome our members and contribute to the rich tapestry that is Brooklyn. Below are a few of our favorites, pulled from our full article on how to support local gems on Giving Tuesday and all year round.

OLD STONE HOUSE

Support the House, gardens, and JJ Byrne playground, dog run, basketball courts, skate park, and more—they host many great events all year round. Park Slope Parents members enjoyed so much at the Old Stone House this year, including our outdoor clothing swap, Jack & Friends concerts with BPL and Suzi Shelton, Dad soccer and basketball, Dr. Alex concerts, Rollie Pollie Guacamole, our in-person (yay!) Babywearing events, the Neighborhood of Trees performance and so much more. Please give generously to keep this wonderful space growing!

PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE

Support the park that “Olmsted got right” (he also designed Central Park) and help keep it great. We had our Summer Fridays in Prospect Park, night walks, Summer Movies Under the stars, and so many wonderful picnics, meetups, and walks.  Donate to help them maintain our wonderful oasis in the urban jungle!

FORT GREENE PARK CONSERVANCY

How many times did our baby/toddler groups meet up in this great space?  200?  500?  What a great space to bond with other parents. Give back to keep things at FGP wonderful!

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK CONSERVANCY

Between all their great programming, including their Harvest Fest, Summer Movies, exercise classes, and so much wonderful family programming, donations to BBPC help keep these flowing!

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY

What can we say, I love Green-Wood. Their Stroller Tours helped new parents get out into the fresh air in a beautiful location. Battle of Brooklyn events, walk with families, tours. Your donations help support their great programming!

BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY

BPL made the best of the pandemic by having outdoor story times across Brooklyn, the Jack and Friends concert series, online story times and so much to support! Give to support all of their great programming!

 

OTHER GREAT ORGANIZATIONS that helped us in 2021

MYRTLE AVENUE BROOKLYN PARTNERSHIP

Myrtle Avenue is an eight-mile strip running from Downtown Brooklyn to Richmond Hill, Queens, so you can imagine how much work it takes to keep the Ave beautiful and support the wellbeing of its residents across Brooklyn. By donating to the Myrtle Neighbors Fund, you support programs that serve neighbors on and around Myrtle Avenue!

5TH AVE BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

Joanna Tallentire, Mark Caserta, and Erika Clark 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, and generally celebrated the greatness of New York City’s “other 5th.” You can support the BID and give the gift of shopping local by purchasing the Park Slope Gift Card for the Brooklynites in your life!

Brooklyn Conservatory of Music hosted weekly PSP baby group meetups so members had a place they could go and bond with other parents. 

A Better Balance helped us navigate family leave and fight for the rights of our workers.

Heights and Hills helped us navigate caregiving through Family Dynamics workshops, as well as providing us with support groups for caregivers. 

 

THE CREW THAT KEEPS THE PSP BOAT AFLOAT

As always, a special shout-out to the Park Slope Parents Team. Did you know that Park Slope Parents has a member-to-staff ratio of 1,000 to 1? Our team of seven continued to go above and beyond this year to create the best possible experience for our community, and for that we’re eternally grateful.

Dorothy deftly handled in-person and Zoom events, taking last-minute sign-ups in stride, sharing venue recommendations with members organizing meet-ups, and providing personalized attention to the many amazing folks who presented with us in webinars and workshops.

Colleen kept a pulse on the wants and needs of our baby and specialty groups, offering compassionate support to parents raising newborns, toddlers, kids, tweens, and teens alike.

Sean was a troubleshooter extraordinaire for all things membership, helping new sign-ups get where they needed to go and creating a seamless experience for all.

Talya lent an editorial eye to emails, social media, and online content, including managing the relaunch of the PSP website and the PSP Guides Library, where members can download hundreds of pages of wisdom on all stages of the parenting process.

Ryan helped hundreds of local businesses get the word out through our Perks Program, on top of his work supporting the community in collaboration with the Poker Papas.

Rachel, fabled Employee Two of PSP, was a dedicated concierge to the many businesses that keep PSP afloat through their advertising support, earning rave reviews in the process. That’s not to mention her work behind the scenes approving messages on the Classifieds and Advice Group, expertly managing the thousands of emails that flowed in and out throughout the year and helping the PSP community source wisdom and find amazing deals on everything from baby gear to summer rentals.

The PSP Anonymous Post Moderator helped members tackle all sorts of issues in 2021, including job decisions, marital decisions, medical support, legal help, covid navigation, bed bugs, behavioral issues, rehab program referrals, vaping, and so many more super private issues that our members were faced with.  So you know, that mailbox dealt with over 2,000 messages in 2021 alone. 

Sadly, yet happily (for her), Carla moved on to corporate pastures in Q4 this year. We will miss her spirit, her emojis and gifs, her ability to magically name even the most boring-sounding events into something folks clamored for, and magnificent organizing and writing skills. We miss you Carla!

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The PSP Elves.


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