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of Side Street Kids, Inc.
Receive "Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad Award"
is proud to announce that The Mendoza's of Bronx's Side Street Kids Academy
were the recipients of this year's "Lo
Mejor de Nuestra Communidad Award". Here is the Speech by Carlos
Mendoza, Executive Director of Side Street Kids, Inc. Excerpted from
Comite Noviembre Fifteenth Annual Puerto Rican Heritage Month Kick-Off Event
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and members of Comite Noviembre. First of all I would like to congratulate all of tonights award recipients.
My name is Carlos Mendoza and I am the Executive Director of Side Street Kids, Inc. a non-profit organization located in the Bronx. They say that behind every great man there is a great woman. By no means am I saying that I am a great man, but I do have a great woman behind me. I could not have accomplished half the things that I have without the love of my life, my wife Toni. She is not only behind me but also in front of me, next to me and all around me. She is my bestest friend and my harshest critic.
You may be asking yourself why is he going on about his wife? My answer to you is two-fold: #1 I need to accumulate points for the times that Im not at my best and more importantly #2 because she is the mother of my 220 children. Thats right 220 children!
In 1996 the NY Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. More importantly it was the year that SSK Inc. was founded. Our first class consisted of 20 kids in a small nightclub named Side Street. Six years later the Yankees are still winning championships and the Side Street Kids are still growing. I mention the Yankees not because they are my favorite team but because of the way they get the job done. Each night they win not because of the efforts of one or two players, but because of the significant contributions they get from the entire team. One night its Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter, the next its Bernie Williams or Jorge Posada and so on and so forth.
Tonight my wife and I are receiving this prestigious award not so much because of what we are doing, but because of the significant contributions of our teammates. The SSK staff. The SSK staff is 100% volunteer. We all have our 9-5 jobs yet we all find time either before 9 after 5 or somewhere in between where we work and hustle in order to get the job done for our kids. Without our staff I could honestly say I would not be up here accepting this award.
The SSK mission is to empower youth with the skills necessary to understand and appreciate the importance of education, positive family interaction and cultural awareness through dance. Many people have not heard about SSK, and those who have, think that all we do is dance. Theyve seen us perform at the Tito Puente Scholarship Fund Galas, in street fairs and theyve heard of us performing in Italy in California and in Puerto Rico. The easiest thing we do at SSK is dance.
Its what we do off the dance floor that makes us proud of our children. The SSK motto is more than dance. We collect report cards; we have peer discussion and tutoring sessions. On some occasions, the kids come in and have a current events discussion for the entire class without ever turning on the music. Our children are our future, for that reason we need to show them that they can make a difference in our community and how to make that happen. At SSK we do that by participating in Breast Cancer and AIDS walks, in coat drives, toy drives, in anything that will make our community a better one.
One more thing about my wife, she hates talking about herself and the wonderful things that she does. She believes in action rather than rhetoric. Unfortunately this has spilled over into Side Street Kids, Inc., we do many wonderful things that are not publicized and that people know nothing about. Starting tonight I would like to change that. Please go out and tell all of your friends and families about a great organization in the Bronx that is lighting the way for our children.
They say that a tree grows in Brooklyn. Well our children are growing up in the Bronx and all over the city and nation. If we do not get them involved in worthwhile activities during non-school hours someone else is going to come along and teach them something we will regret for the rest of our lives. Whether it be dance, music, sports or any other activities get your children involved in something and better yet get involved with them. Once again thank you to our wonderful staff, to Comite Noviembre for this award and in particular ASPIRA for nominating us. Good Night everyone and Go Yankees!