A Tribute to Julie Zuckerman

Welcome by our president, Michael Connolly, to our 2011 Holiday benefit

I would like to welcome you all here tonight to the Harlem Family Institute’s second annual Holidays musical soiree to celebrate the approach again of the season of the Holidays, of Kwanza, Hanukkah and Christmas.

But the event is also to celebrate all of you for helping support the Institute – either by the work you do for us directly during the year, or, just as important, by coming tonight and supporting us financially – in our unique and vital dual mission.

And that is, first, offering free long-term therapy to young and often at-risk children, adolescents and their caregivers in underserved New York communities in places like Harlem schools and neighborhood centers, which offer us space for our playroom treatment centers and help us financially.

And, second, offering affordable training for a career in psychoanalysis – now an independent profession in New York State – to a diverse population of aspiring psychoanalysts who provide these services.

In offering free clinical services, we draw inspiration from powerful roots in the seminal analytic years around 1920 in Berlin and Vienna – where free clinics were espoused by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler and established by them or their followers, Adler’s in 27 Vienna schools.

We’re able to do this only because of the work of a dedicated and growing group of professional analysts from a number of New York analytic institutes who pitch in for low fees to supplement the work of our small institute to train them – by teaching them, supervising their work and offering them what’s called personal training analysis.

But it’s become tougher in the past few years. The transformation of psychoanalysis into an independent licensed profession in this state has imposed a new regulatory environment, which makes rigorous demands of training institutes. As a result, we’re in the midst of a top-to-bottom reorganization to ensure we meet various state and national requirements to become what’s called an accredited, licensure-qualifying institute. And we aim to be among the best.

We want to establish ourselves as a model training institute that takes a lead in exploring new ways to successfully serve children and their families in underserved communities, showing how encouraging a city’s community of analysts from a wide cross-section of training institutes of different orientations to pool their resources through one eclectic institute can help them reach out to serve economically disadvantaged communities.

In addition, we’re in more need of financial support than ever before. Our 501c3 nonprofit status requires us to raise at least a third of our funds from widely dispersed public donations. So we need to expand our donor base and our donations by Dec. 31 – just four weeks away. Every donor of $100 or more is eligible to receive an Institute Baggu with our thanks.

Of course, to ensure that the Institute’s future is never again jeopardized, we need to put money away for the future too, and so our new treasurer Ernie Wetzel is already working on planning for developing an endowment fund.

This year the Institute has already received several sizable donations – one individual has provided $20,000, and a Connecticut religious community, the First Church of Round Hill, has provided us with $10,000, thanks to the Rev. Avery Manchester, a former minister. Avery is the husband of Pamela Armstrong Manchester, president of our national association.

We also received financial support from our primary training site, Central Park East 1 Elementary School. But even more than that, a small action early last year by Julie Zuckerman, principal of the school, and the staff there may have been critical for us. For by moving our therapy space out of the school’s skates closet into a beautiful small room with an actual window even, Julie earned my deep gratitude.

And when I weighed whether I could take on the running of the Institute with the help of a handful of colleagues and students, that small act of generosity, validating our role and work, was just what I needed to nudge me to proceed. Without that, we likely wouldn’t be here tonight.

So, Julie, we’re all exceedingly grateful to you, and we’ve invited you here tonight to honor you for this.

After we’ve heard from you, we’ll return to enjoying the food, wine, music and, I hope, new friends.