We say that children are the future, but how can they each fulfill their potential when thousands of New York City kids live below the poverty level? The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) recognizes this reality and has dedicated its resources to helping NYC’s youngest survive and even thrive.
As a local nonprofit committed to serving impoverished youth and their families, CAS has provided comprehensive, long-term programs and resources to children in need for more than 150 years. From the moment their child is born, parents can participate in Early Head Start programs that teach them how to build rich and engaging home environments for their sons and daughters. As children grow, CAS continues to offer multidisciplinary at-home and in-center assistance, adolescent cultural and educational programs, and family counseling services, as well as primary dental, physical, and mental healthcare, all at local schools and community centers.
Spearheading this remarkable organization is native Brooklynite Richard Buery, its president and CEO. As the first black man to lead CAS since its founding in 1853, Buery’s chief responsibilities include overseeing, planning, and implementing strategies to manage the direction of the organization.
“It’s an interesting job because it changes every day,” Buery says. “In the morning I might be playing with a 3-year-old at a Head Start center and in the afternoon I’ll be asking a company for a million-dollar grant.”
For the past 23 years, Buery has dedicated his professional life to nonprofit work. He has founded three organizations that benefit at-risk youth—the Mission Hill Summer Program, iMentor, and Groundwork Inc.—making him an ideal leader and role model for an organization like CAS. This year, he hopes to spread awareness about the new charter school that CAS has opened in South Bronx.
“Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School opened in August 2012 to 126 kindergarten and first grade students,” says Buery. “The school will add a grade a year, and will eventually serve nearly 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.”
By offering a wide range of social and educational services, Buery is helping to ensure that underprivileged students are getting the help and support they need to graduate.
With so many responsibilities on his plate, this local dad rarely has a “normal” day in the office. In fact, he’s often juggling tasks such as spending time managing program initiatives, building corporate relationships, and engaging residents in the communities.
“I love the opportunity to make a difference,” Buery enthuses. “I love service and the fact that I can make a contribution and a lasting change for people and communities that I care about.”
When Buery isn’t working at the office or off scouting new program sites, he enjoys bike riding, playing basketball, and swimming with his family. He and his wife, Deborah, and their two sons, Ellis and Ethan, ages 9 and 7 respectively, can often be found exploring their neighborhood in New Rochelle, Westchester.
Though his kids are fairly young, Buery makes a concerted effort to raise their awareness of his work with underprivileged communities. He often brings them to speeches and events, and talks openly with his boys about the circumstances he encounters each day.
“When my boys were younger, they watched me present at an important conference,” Buery remembers. “They began to fight and were so disruptive that I had to stop mid-speech and scold them.”
Despite the ups and downs of bringing his children to work, his efforts have paid off. When a younger Ellis was asked by his teacher to write about someone that inspired him, he chose his dad.
With Father’s Day on the horizon, the dad of two hopes to enjoy the simple pleasures of home life: breakfast in bed, seeing a film, reading in his hammock, and having a nice dinner with his family. For a man who gives so much to the community, Buery doesn’t ask for much.
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