Donors uphold Operation Exodus
Published: Saturday, May 22, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 18:05
Donors uphold Operation Exodus Audio Interview:
NEW YORK CITY – Vianca Martinez, a 2nd grade girl at Operation Exodus, wants to be a science teacher for kids, a scientist, or a maid when she grows up.
Martinez has liked all three of her years at Operation Exodus in Washington Heights.
During snack time Martinez bounced around in her chair, slurping down some pink and lime green Trix yogurt.
Martinez read the type of yogurt out loud to her friends, reveling her ability to do so.
Martinez lives at home with her mother, and she speaks in Spanish more than English at home, as do most of the other kids at Operation Exodus, which helps a mostly Dominican community.
Operation Exodus is an afterschool program in Washington Heights targeting those kids who need to be brought out of the gang life and lack of education, according to Tatiana Mahoney, a parent coordinator.
With a 100% graduation rate among students, according to the program's website, it's a popular place.
Matt Mahoney, the chief director of Exodus, said that the program never advertises. He said, "If we advertised we'd be flooded."
Tatiana Mahoney said that the normal rate for the program is $30 a week per child, but that shifts depending on how much the student can pay.
"Even if they can just pay one dollar," Tatiana Mahoney said, raising one finger in the air, "they pay that one dollar to show investment in the program and children."
Matt Mahoney said that students' fees don't cover much of the costs for the program.
Last year Operation Exodus raised a little over $700,000. They tidily used $675,000 for the after-school program as well as summer program and mentoring program on Saturdays that Exodus also runs.
Operation Exodus held a fundraiser at the Dillon Gallery of art on Thursday night – the second fundraiser that the program has had in the last two years.
Operation Exodus is responding to smaller contributions from foundations and trusts who lowered support as well in the economic depression.
According to Matt Mahoney, Exodus does its share of asking people for money, but in general, Exodus deliberately avoids asking for financial help.
Matt Mahoney said that Operation Exodus hopes to raise $100,000 through the event last night. Board members as well as many potential givers attended.
At the event, board member John Moon spoke about the unconditional love that so many children don't get at home. He treasures his parents and teachers, and he wants the children at Operation Exodus to experience the same.
Tatiana Mahoney said that the program focuses on reading, writing, and math.
It's an explicitly Christian organization, but Mahoney said that it's no Bible school.
Joanlie Shiah, a tutor of a group of second graders, has watched progress in her classroom of second graders even in the last few months that she's been at Operation Exodus. She's seen progress spiritually and academically tied together throughout students.