Tag Archive | "CMEE"

Katy’s Courage 5K Brings Community Together

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Runners sprint from the starting line on Long Island Avenue at the start of the 2013 Katy's Courage 5K Run on Saturday. Photo by Michael Heller.

Runners sprint from the starting line on Long Island Avenue at the start of the 2013 Katy’s Courage 5K Run on Saturday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Runners of all ages and abilities will converge on West Water Street in Sag Harbor this Saturday for the fourth annual Katy’s Courage 5-K run.

The event will raise money for scholarships, pediatric cancer research, and, perhaps most importantly this year, a new bereavement program for children the organization has recently founded in conjunction with the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton.

“We hope a lot of people will come out,” said Katy’s mother, Brigid Collins Stewart. “It’s early in the morning, it’s a beautiful course, and it’s the kind of race that draws everyone from elite runners to mothers with baby carriages.”

The entry fee, if paid in advance, is $25. The fee on the day of the race is $30. Check-in starts along the waterfront on West Water Street at 7 a.m. and runs through 8:15 a.m. The race starts at 8:30 a.m.

Prizes will be given for the top three male finishers, the top three female finishers and the top three males and top three females in nine different age categories, ranging from 14 and under to 80 and older.

Despite enduring the heartbreak of losing her daughter more than three years ago, Ms. Stewart said events like the 5-k run, an annual student classical concert, and a skate-athon at the Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton help ease the pain and remind her of her daughter’s impact on others.

“She still inspires people. There are people I don’t even know who still call me to tell me what a great inspiration she was,” said Ms. Stewart. “We were very proud of her—and we still are. She went through a lot as a child and even though she did get a bum deal she handled it well.”

Ms. Stewart said she expects anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 runners to take part in this year’s run, and she was keeping a somewhat nervous eye on the weather report, which calls for a chance of rain and temperatures in the low 50s, for the weekend.

If proceeds keep pace with last year, Katy’s Courage will raise about $30,000 from the run, making it the charity’s biggest money maker.

“We’re excited because this is the first year we have fulfilled our third goal, Katy’s Kids @ CMEE,” Ms. Stewart said.

Although still in the development stage, Katy’s Kids @ CMEE will offer bereavement programs for children, including private and group therapy with mental health professionals with a special focus on play therapy. Ms. Stewart said the goal is to have pilot programs operating by the fall.

The Stewarts became convinced of the value of play therapy in helping children cope with the loss of a loved one from firsthand experience. Their son, Robert, was only 6 and staying with his grandparents when Katy died.

“Robert was upset and told us, ‘I never got a chance to say goodbye,” recalled Ms. Stewart.

She said she and her husband first tried to talk about Robert’s grief with their son, but learned that children grieve in their own way and need time and the right situation to open up. A friend recommended the family visit the Children’s Bereavement Center in San Antonio, Texas, where they saw Robert make great strides in his own healing journey through play therapy.

“We believe so much in play therapy, and there is really not much available out here,” Ms. Stewart said.

Proceeds from Saturday’s run will also help underwrite a $10,000 scholarship that Katy’s Courage awards each year to a Pierson High School senior. The stipend is paid out over four years and presented to a student who leads through example characterized y by kindness, goodness, respect and empathy toward others.

The third beneficiary of the run is the Katy’s Courage Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, which the Stewarts began with a $25,000 donation in 2012.

Ms. Stewart said the run would never be the success it has become without its many sponsors and other community volunteers. “We are grateful to all our sponsors,” she said. “Everyone gives what they can.”

She said that Ben Krupinski is a major sponsor, through his 1770 House and Citta Nuova restaurants as well as his building company. Other major sponsors include Wainscott Sand and Gravel, Mickey’s Carting, Suburban Sanitation, Riverhead Building Supply, the Bagel Buoy, Sag Harbor Beverage, and Starbucks Coffee.

Boy scouts run the water stations and still other students run the Katy Bug Lane Boutique, which sells baked goods, hair accessories, bracelets and other small items, and the Sag Harbor Fire Department helps set up and take down the event. Nina Landi is the race director and Bruce and Kelly McMahon also provide invaluable help.

“It takes a village,” said Ms. Stewart. “Everyone goes out of their way to help.”

CMEE Challenges Families with Second Annual Egg Drop

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By Tessa Raebeck

Can your family construct a container that will help an egg survive a drop? Find out Saturday, at CMEE’s (Children’s Museum of the East End) 2nd Annual Egg Drop Challenge, sponsored by Macaroni Kid Hamptons.CMEEEggDropFamilies can bring containers from home or come to a hands-on workshop from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to design and construct a protective capsule with all materials, including eggs, provided by CMEE. At noon, each container will be put to the test in CMEE Square.

The egg drop challenge has several guidelines: Participants must be able to insert an egg in the container just prior to the challenge. Designs cannot involve glass, liquids, helium or other gasses lighter than air. The container’s weight cannot exceed one pound and the egg compartment cannot exceed one foot in length or width. Use of parachutes is allowed, but the chute must deploy itself after the container is dropped.

Admission to the Egg Drop Challenge is free for members and $10 for non-members. The optional design workshop is $2 for members and $4 for non-members. Workshop space is limited. For reservations, call the museum at 537-8250.

Katy’s Courage Partners with CMEE to Provide Grief Counseling for Children on the East End

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CMEE Executive Director Stephen Long, Jim Stewart, Robert Stewart and Brigid Stewart Collins play with a sand table at CMEE on Tuesday, March 4. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

CMEE Executive Director Stephen Long, Jim Stewart, Robert Stewart and Brigid Stewart Collins play with a sand table at CMEE on March 4. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Katy’s Courage and the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) have announced a new partnership, Katy’s Kids @ CMEE, to provide counseling opportunities for children experiencing grief or heartbreak, as well as support for their families.

Kathryn Stewart was a Pierson Middle School student and beloved member of the Sag Harbor community who died in December 2010 at the age of 12 from a rare form of liver cancer. In memory of their daughter, Brigid Collins Stewart and Jim Stewart founded Katy’s Courage, a not-for-profit dedicated to education and support for families and children through support for counseling services, scholarship and pediatric cancer research.

Still in development, the collaboration will fulfill the organization’s goal of providing group counseling and play therapy for grieving children. The organization’s aim is to provide private and group sessions with mental health professionals to children who have lost someone through death, or who may need support due to divorce, adoption, immigration or other issues. Katy’s Kids hopes to be piloting programs by the fall of 2014.

After Katy passed away, a close friend of Ms. Collins Stewart’s recommended the family visit the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas in San Antonio. They hoped the trip would help Katy’s younger brother, Robert, 6 at the time, process and understand his grief, as well as teach his parents how to emotionally support him so the family could heal together.

“It was such a transformative experience for all of us,” Ms. Collins Stewart said, adding that she and her husband quickly knew there was a real need for such a center closer to home.

Last spring, the vision of bringing similar support to the East End began to materialize through conversations Ms. Collins Stewart and Mr. Stewart had about their belief that healing for children centers on play therapy. Hoping to start a center, they came across a familiar East End problem: the lack of affordable real estate. A friend mentioned CMEE, and, after meeting with Executive Director Steve Long, both parties, realizing their uniform missions, decided to forge a partnership.

“They were very welcoming and very happy to have the community collaboration,” Ms. Collins Stewart said of CMEE. “Their mission really is, as an organization, to reach out and address issues that concern families in the East End community, so really we feel like it’s a perfect fit.”

When the family traveled to Texas, they were immediately impressed by the beauty and warmth of the bereavement center, which works with children between the ages of 3 and 18. Each room offers a type of play of some sort, such as a dress-up room, a room for dance and art rooms.

“Every room is a different way for a child to express [his or her self],” said Ms. Collins Stewart. The expressive therapeutic play models will be recreated at CMEE.

The child gets to choose where they want to play. In Texas Robert chose the sand tray room, where the therapist asked him to take a tray of sand and build a world for Kate.

“As he built the world,” recalled Ms. Collins Stewart, “he would say things or she would ask him questions and that was the first experience we had. And what was amazing about it to us was that through this play, he was able to articulate what he hadn’t really been able to say before. So, we knew that it was what small children— and most children, really—need to be able to talk about their feelings. They can’t just always express themselves without having the metaphor of play to work with.”

To learn more about Katy’s Courage, call 725-7437 or email info@katyscourage.org. To make a tax-deductible donation, send checks payable to Katy’s Courage to PO Box 3251, Sag Harbor, NY 11963 or donate online.

 

Upcoming Katy’s Courage Events:

Katy’s Courage Skate-a-thon at Buckskill Winter Club

This Saturday, March 8 at 4 p.m. Katy’s Courage is hosting a Skate-a-thon at the Buckskill Winter Club, 178 Buckskill Road in East Hampton. Pre-event registration is $20, including skate rental, and 100 percent of the proceeds to benefit Katy’s Courage. Skaters can collect pledges from friends and family for either a fixed amount or per lap skated (i.e. 25 cents a lap) or register on the day of the event with no pledges for $35. The top fundraiser wins a free membership to the Buckskill Winter Club for the 2014-2015 season.

Classical Students for Katy’s Courage

Bay Street Theatre hosts the 6th Annual concert to benefit the Katy’s Courage Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research on Sunday, March 23 at 4 p.m. Ten student musicians will perform a classical concert to celebrate the life of Katy Stewart. There is a suggested donation of $15.

Katy’s Courage 5K

The Katy’s Courage Annual 5K to benefit the Katy Stewart Scholarship Fund is Saturday, April 5 starting at the staging area at 21 Water Street in Sag Harbor. Check-in time is from 7 to 8:15 a.m. and the race starts promptly at 8:30 a.m. The course is rather flat with a few small hills around the village. All ages are welcome and awards are given to the top three males and three females overall, as well as the top three in each age group. Registration is $25 beforehand and $30 on the day of the race.

Laughing Pizza: Rockin’ for the Kids

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web laughing pizza

By Vee Benard


Billy Schlosser, Lisa Michaelis Schlosser and their daughter Emily are more than just your average family — collectively known as “Laughing Pizza,” the musical trio specializes in creating family-friendly pop hits for kids between the ages of 4 and 15. As part of their recent cross-country tour, Laughing Pizza will be hosting a “Pajama Pizza Party” on Friday, August 6, at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton.

According to Lisa, the lead vocalist for Laughing Pizza, the group’s name derives from “two things that are best when shared…Laughing and pizza are things we enjoy as families, and this ties in with the message of our music.”

Laughing Pizza took root in the early 1990s, when both Lisa and Billy were songwriters and performers in the indie rock scene in New York. After taking up positions as songwriters for Warner/Chappell, one of the major American music publishing companies, they were asked if they ever wrote songs for kids.

“Of course we said yes,” laughed Lisa, “we always say yes.” Fortunately, this transition into the unfamiliar territory of kids pop music proved to be smoother than predicted.

“We tried it, and it happened so easily for us,” explained Lisa, “…we just wrote our usual pop songs, but made them ‘younger.’” And so Lisa and Billy became the songwriters for a young Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, as well as for a handful of shows on Cartoon Network.

It was the birth of their daughter Emily in 1995, however, and her entry into the musical world in the early 2000’s, that really pushed Lisa and Billy to form Laughing Pizza.

“We had little Emily,” Lisa explained, “and yet there was such a deficit of fun pop music that we could share together as a family. We really did this for her. It was a completely organic thing.”

And now, at age 15, Emily has joined the ranks of the very musical Schlosser family as a fully collaborative songwriter and musician in Laughing Pizza, playing five instruments and singing backup vocals in the band, which has achieved wide critical acclaim since its formation in 2002.

Laughing Pizza is now a regular fixture of PBS and has had appearances on the Today Show, CNN, NY1 and CBS. In addition, the Schlosser family has performed at the White House two years in a row—most recently alongside teen pop-sensations Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. “Hannah Montana”) and the Jonas Brothers.

Despite the stigma that might come along with being a “kid-friendly” band, Laughing Pizza has a base in classical music training—both Lisa and Billy are award-winning songwriters and former music teachers who attended Juilliard and Berklee (respectively) in their younger years. Their knowledge of the technical aspects of music making provide depth and versatility to their songs.

It is Emily’s musical aptitude, however, that was the most shocking. Unlike her parents, she was never classically trained, but rather learned music, as Lisa explained, “by feel.”

“She has just been adding more and more to the group,”  Lisa beamed. “She is songwriting, rapping and she’s an amazing drummer…it’s just a natural thing for her.”

Laughing Pizza’s songs, which seek to “bridge the gap from Barney to Britney,” aim to be something for the entire family to enjoy. Though their target audience for their television appearances lies within the 4 and 9 year-old range, Laughing Pizza draws diverse crowds for their live performances.

“One of our favorite compliments,” Lisa shared, “is when people say ‘I listen to your music even when our kids aren’t around.’”

“The media is so segmented,” she said. “There is programming for the teeny-weenies and then the tweens, but then there is this weird empty area where kid’s aren’t being served.” She explained that this pushes this between-stages audience bracket to either stoop down to less mature programming or to grow up at too fast a rate.

Laughing Pizza’s music is not the only vehicle through which the Schlosser family promotes the benefits of living and working as a family. Indeed, their very projection as a real-life mom, dad and daughter that “plays and stays together” is a healthy image for kids of all ages.

“It is heaven,” said Lisa of working with her husband and daughter. “It is unbelievable that we get to have this life together as a family. I know it sounds incredibly corny but we are just so fortunate—the most amazing part of this amazing experience is being together.”

The Pizza Pajama Party on August 6 will mark Laughing Pizza’s third collaboration with the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE). The evening will consist of a live concert, featuring six dancers from The Broadway Dance Center in New York, who will be performing the choreography of Stacey Webster (with some help by Lisa and Emily), as well as a pizza dinner. Pajamas are optional, and “grownups” are invited to participate in the festivities.

“We absolutely love the people at the museum,” said Lisa, who is eagerly looking forward to Friday’s event. “We view the Hamptons as our home away from home.”


Laughing Pizza will perform this Friday, August 6, at 6 p.m. at the Children’s Museum of the East End, 376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at door. For more information call CMEE at 537-8250.

Kids Groups Get Creative With Fundraising

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web tumblebus

While big ticket benefits with cocktails and sit down dinners have become a de rigueur part of the summer social season out here, there are two local non-profits taking a different tack with fundraising efforts this summer.

This weekend, both the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) and Stages, A Children’s Theatre Workshop, Inc. will host benefits while the sun is still high in the sky. And don’t worry about a babysitter — this time around, kids are encouraged to attend.

“CMEE’s Under The Sea” family fair is Saturday, July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and comes on the heels of last year’s traditional adults only gala which was held for the first time at the museum itself.

“People said, ‘What a gorgeous space, why not always do it here?’” notes Stephen Long, CMEE’s executive director. “The gala had always been instrumental in raising awareness of the museum, people said, ‘Here’s a chance to show what you’ve done.’”

“Since it’s an institution devoted to kids, the fundraiser should include them as well,” adds Long. “I had a lot of parents say even when money is tight, they’ll still spend money on their kids. We wanted a fundraiser that featured the kinds of things we do on a day-to-day basis. There will be art activities, pony rides, petting zoo, bouncy castles, carnival games, magicians, face painters and a balloonologist.”

Also premiering at the event will be the Hamptons TumbleBus, a brand new kids-centered business started by two local moms. From the outside, it’s a regular school bus, but inside, it’s another story. The seats have been removed to make way for a fully equipped gym for tiny tumblers ages 2 to 8, complete with padded floor, rings, a trampoline, balance beam and more. TumbleBus owners — Bridgehampton residents Cathy Wallick and Michelle Kennedy — plan to bring tumbling programs to youngsters all over the East End through schools, libraries and non-profit groups like CMEE.

And like CMEE, which was founded by a group of moms, Wallick and Kennedy, who have five children between them, started Hamptons TumbleBus as a way to address what they saw as a need in the community.

“With the national obesity problem, we wanted to help children by starting them at a young age to develop self confidence, motor skills and a love of fitness that will continue throughout their life,” says Kennedy. “With this program, we can come to people who may not have this kind of thing available. We’re two local moms and we want to develop something for people here, make it affordable and help children.”

“At a young age structure is so important,” adds Wallick. “We do a warm up, sing songs, stretch, then do the circuit followed by a cool down, and the parachute or something else fun. By then, they’re feeling confident and know exactly what they’re doing. You can see it in their faces when they get it — and they keep moving — they’re not sitting around.”

Also not sitting around are the young actors of Stages — founder Helene Leonard has long made sure of that. The acting program has trained legions of East End children, and on Sunday, July 26, five of Leonard’s teenage actresses will transform into fairy tale princesses for an afternoon of tea and face time with little fans ages 3 and up at the first annual “Princess Party” from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Grenning, Gallery, 17 Washington Street in Sag Harbor.

“It’s by kids, for kids,” says Leonard. “It came out of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the way the little girls reacted to the characters. It’s so wonderful. This is how powerful theater can be.”

Princesses will be stationed throughout the space and little girls will have a chance to talk to them and have their photos taken. There will also be a performance and an auction with the types of items little girls love. The party also features goodie bags, cake, a chocolate fountain and, of course, a place to buy tiaras and wands. If all goes well, next year Leonard hopes to include a pirate component to satisfy all the little boys as well.

“We thought how nice to make it an event that would be different and you’d want to take your children to,” says Leonard. “It’s not standing around at a cocktail party, writing a check and going home. It’s unusual to be able to include your children in a benefit situation. I think people are looking for something different to do.”

“Dads are welcome to come too,” adds Leonard. “Princesses need their escorts.”

Stages’ princess party is $60 for an adult and child. Additional children are $35 each. No reservations are required and princess attire is recommended.

CMEE’s family fun fair is $500 for a family of four. Individual tickets are $125 ($90 for children). CMEE is located at 376 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike. Call 537-8250 to reserve.

Playing With Numbers: Exhibit strives to make math accessible

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Trying out the CMEE exhibit

If you ask friends today which subject they most feared and hated in school, a disproportionate number of them will likely reply “math.” Memories of mean teachers and baffling equations can still make many a former kid blanche.

So why are there so many math phobic adults among us?

“The way teachers were teaching us, it was either right or wrong,” recalls Eva Petersen, educational outreach coordinator for the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE). “There was no gray area in math. I never understood why I was learning it.”

Ultimately, says Petersen, real world connections matter which is why CMEE’s new exhibit, which opens this weekend, is all about making math accessible. “Fun 2, 3, 4: all about a number of things” is an exhibit for ages 5 to 12 with 16 hands-on stations designed to encourage visitors to interact with number based concepts and lessen math anxiety. It comes to CMEE on loan from Sciencenter in Ithaca, N.Y.

“This exhibit ties in with how we do math in everyday life,” explains Petersen. “It shows math elements with creative perspectives and has a wider appeal.”

And that’s very important. Though teaching methods have changed drastically in the last quarter century, there is still apparently a disconnect when it comes to math. According to CME’s research, close to 30 percent of eighth graders on the East End are not fully meeting New York State math standards.

Something, it seems, happens between early grades when kids score high in math and adolescence when many seem to lose confidence in the subject.

“From my perspective, a museum should first and foremost serve community needs,” notes CMEE’s executive director Stephen Long. “In researching some of the math scores on the East End — as well as the county, state and country — it seems to be trend. Students are meeting standards in third grade, but by eighth grade, it drops off.”

CMEE hopes that by bringing this exhibit to the East End, it will reinforce in younger children the notion that math is exciting and practical so it will be less intimidating when they become adolescents.

 “It helps teachers to put math into every day concepts for their students,” notes Long. “Historically, math has been taken out of every day world and taught in  a vacuum. This is about estimating and thinking exponentially.”

The museum has already given local teachers a preview of the exhibit so they can use it in conjunction with what they are doing in the classroom.

“They can put what they’re teaching into better context,” notes Petersen.

In addition, Long explains that CMEE is contacting East End schools to find out where math standards are lagging. That way, when school groups visit, programming can be tailored to focus on math areas a particular class is struggling with as a whole.

The exhibit itself is very hands on and designed to get kids thinking. There is the pizza game in which a whole is divided into parts, a wall sized graph where visitors will place stickers representing their height and age (also a good way for the museum to gauge their target audience) and an estimating game in which two players compete by trying to hold a button down for exactly 15 seconds.

Another exhibit gets kids to think about math in a way that really impacts them personally — in the piggy bank.

In “Double Your Allowance,” kids are given the choice of receiving either $1 a week for 12 weeks, or 1¢ the first week and double that amount each consecutive week. So who comes out ahead in the end? The answer can be found at CMEE.

There are also math activities to put current events into perspective for adults. With questions looming over the fate of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and average Americans watching their own portfolios plummet, one exhibit that parents will likely find intriguing (if not enjoyable) is the “how many is a million” machine.

By turning a handle, visitors move a series of interconnected gears in a case that count up to a million. When the magic number is reached, the last gear breaks a small glass at the end of the case.

It’s expected that very few glasses will be broken over the run of the exhibit.

“It takes a really long time to get to a million,” notes Petersen.

The exhibit runs through December 31, 2008 and opens this Saturday, October 4 with a member’s preview from 10 to noon. It opens to the general public at 1 p.m. CMEE is located at 376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike. For more information, call 537-8250. 

 Above: CMEE’s executive director Stephen Long and educational outreach coordinator Eva Petersen try out the exhibit

 

A Conversation With Steve Long

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The new executive director of CMEE on rethinking the museum, finding donors and reaching the “tweens”

 

What was your former position? How does this position differ from your old one?

I was the Vice President of Collections and Education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and, in that capacity, I was head of our Education Department, which includes the Tenement Museum School Programs, public tours, and other public programs, as well as the museum’s curatorial department and artifact collections. I had been there for 14 years. I started as an intern, became a tour guide, and then eventually got to the position I was in and wanted to grow from there.

 

What strengths do you bring to CMEE as the new executive director?

I think that the reason that CMEE hired me was that I had helped the Tenement Museum grow. We were an institution that, when I started there, had about 20,000 to 25,000 visitors. I was part of the team that helped develop our programming to the point that now, this year, there are over 140,000 visitors. I also had a track record with the staff that I worked with in building a team and developing programs that were highly acclaimed. I think also the idea that the Tenement Museum had a social vision appealed to the Board of Trustees. With the Children’s Museum, I think it’s great to have children learn through play, but I think that CMEE can do a lot more than that. Children bring a lot more to our lives than just being able to learn through play. I’m interested in exploring how children can be a resource and act as volunteers, mentors and stewards. It’s more than just play.

 

What does a children’s museum encompass to you?

That’s the thing that really appeals to me, the challenge. I’ve heard that from a lot of people, and I’d like to explore how to tackle that. I want to try to figure out how CMEE can become a place to serve older kids. Generally children’s museums don’t serve the tweens. If you look at almost every other children’s museum in the country, they cut off at ages 7, 8, 9 and 10 at the oldest. I think we need to be responsive to community needs. I’m interested in listening to kids who are 9, 10, 11 and 12 even and find out what we could do here to engage them. Maybe it’s changing the exhibition programming. Maybe it’s asking tweens to become junior docents, to have them be the mentors and the teachers to younger kids. First and foremost, we want to ask tweens what they want.

 

What led to the money problems at CMEE? Does it have anything to do with the economy or more with the competition for fundraising and the aging out of supporters?                                                                       

Well, CMEE opened with a construction loan, so it’s always been challenged financially. It wasn’t as if we opened our doors with a huge endowment to pay programming costs. What’s made it particularly acute this year it seems has been the economy.

 

Is there any discussion on changing focus or redesign?

When I took this position, I talked to a lot of other museum directors for their advice. They said, “Don’t change anything for the first three months.” I think this was wise advice because I’m new to the community. I’ve been going out and talking to people who are community leaders and people who are stakeholders at CMEE. I want to hear from them to find out what are the needs, as they see them, of children and families in this community and how can they imagine a museum filling those needs. I’ve also been interested in hearing what their perception of CMEE is. I don’t think enough people know about the programs that we provide, such as the scholarship programs and daycare programs.

 

How do you plan to reach out to the community?

We’ve been talking to funding stakeholders and also discussing things with future contributors. We are in the process of implementing a plan to diversify our funding streams.

 

Where do you think your strong financial supporters lie and how will you attract them?

What I’m looking for are people who are interested in supporting a museum that makes a difference in people’s lives. I come from a history museum. A lot of history museums’ missions are to collect, preserve and interpret things. I always thought, “How do you get up in the morning and feel like you’re making a difference?” CMEE is making a difference, and will expand the kind of difference it can make in the future. I think that our funders, present and future, are part of that. I’m interested in building reciprocal relationships so that people feel like not only are they contributing financially to the institution, but also they are getting something out of it.

 

Interview By Catherine McNamara

 

 

CMEE Cash Crunch May Force Downsize

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The Children’s Museum of the East End is in “cash crisis” according to board treasure Adeline Neubert.
“We have been doing quite well living hand to mouth, but now that the sales are down for the summer event,” said Neubert, “it’s definitely a serious cash crisis. We’re still paying off a $3.8 million mortgage.”
Neubert said CMEE’s goal is to raise $500,000 by the end of summer. If that goal is not met, at best CMEE could be looking at having to downsize and at worst, closing their doors altogether.
Neubert said the museum normally counts on the “CMEE Under the Stars” annual benefit to get them through the summer and well into the fall. The event usually raises $300,000 on average and last year, the benefit sold roughly 400 tickets. This year, only 170 tickets were sold prior to the event. The benefit was originally to be held Friday, July 11 under a tent at Ludlow Farm in Sagaponack. Instead, the decision was made to hold the event on the museum’s grounds on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.
“As we were planning the event it became evident to us that we needed to downsize it,” said CMEE’s new executive director Steve Long. “We are certainly struggling. We thought instead of spending all kinds of money to put on a huge party, we wanted to be fiscally responsible and maximize the number of dollars going to support the museum.”
Long said though the economic crunch is evident, he did not want to characterize this as a “make or break fundraiser.” He said it was not like the museum would be closing their doors on Saturday if they didn’t raise $500,000 on Friday.
Long said the museum was pulling out all of the stops to try and focus on fundraising and to keep the worst from happening. He said they are looking at new opportunities for earned income, additional grant writing and reaching out to new donors Neubert said the latter, reaching out to donors, is critical.
“There is a misperception that our donors are all wealthy New Yorkers,” she said. “In fact, we have a very dedicated but small group of supporters and donors and the base at large is quite small.”
She said the focus now is to reach out to new donors who hopefully see the importance of CMEE as a local, educational and cultural resource.
Long said, “There is a real need for a hub for children and we want to be that hub, that cultural crossroads where people of different kinds of backgrounds come and learn together,” said Long. “And if we’re not doing it, then who is going to?”
“We’re the only museum out here that puts the needs of children first. That’s what makes the institution so special,” he continued. “A lot of museums around the area and the country put their collections first and for us it’s not about the collection, it’s about the kids.”
Long said in his short tenure as director, only about two and half weeks, he feels one of the community’s concerns is that the museum does not provide enough educational opportunities for older children.
“We’re interested in hearing from the community how we can serve the needs of as many children as possible,” he said. “That’s our mission.”

Above: Dancers at CMME Under the Stars fundraiser on Friday July, 11. Photo by Mike Heller.