In Judaism, we often hear the expression “Tikkun Olam,” or “repairing the world.” We know that giving back to our communities is a pivotal part of our human identities but often wonder how one person can make an impact.
Gina Argento, CEO of Broadway Stages, is proving that indeed just one person’s generosity can begin to heal a broken world; one hand at a time, one dollar at a time, and one charity at a time.
Broadway Stages, one of New York City’s largest full-service film & television production facilities, is not your typical production company. Ms. Argento believes that her business is not just known as a pillar in the production community. Rather, she sees Broadway Stages as an enterprise that has an opportunity to promote the well-being of New York citizens and New York City communities.
Instead of making New Year’s 2017 resolutions for herself, Ms. Argento has pledged to continue her philanthropic mission. Within the first month of 2017, she has already been working on five different projects.
One of Ms. Argento’s ambitions is to give children an opportunity to experience summer camp. When we think back to our own childhoods, many of us positively reflect on our days at places such as Ramah, Yavneh, URJ camps, etc. Imagine for a moment if you had never had those life-changing experiences, away at sleep away camp, socializing with friends, etc. Ms. Argento realized that 1 in 3 Brooklyn children live at or below the federal poverty level and decided to give 32 of these kids the summer they deserve. Camp Brooklyn is a summer development program which sends 7-16-year-old students from Brooklyn public schools who meet free or reduced lunch requirements to sleep-away camps for two weeks. Beyond personal growth, Camp Brooklyn is giving children the ability to experience hands-on green initiatives by learning about waste management and garden farming.
In addition to addressing the need for children to have enriching summer experiences, Ms. Argento is combating literacy issues in New York City. According to the Books Still Matter Foundation, fewer than half of the children younger than 5 years old in the United States are read to daily and studies have shown that far too many children – especially those living in poverty – are facing achievement gaps as a result of lack of access to regular reading. Ms. Argento has paired with Yoswein New York, a full-service public affairs firm, to help foster a lifelong love of reading good old fashioned printed, hard copy books. 100% of the new books donated to Booksstillmatter.org are distributed to New York City children, with a focus on young people living in the City’s NYCHA housing developments.
Ms. Argento also saw another need for not just those living in New York City, but in Long Island. To help individuals in Long Island, she has chosen to work with the Family & Children’s Association. This nonprofit provides a range of communal programs focusing on behavior health services, youth education, counseling services, and housing. They help 20,000 Long Island residents each year, working to protect and strengthen vulnerable children, seniors, families and communities on Long Island.
Her commitment to provide a better life for New Yorkers also includes continuing to implement green solutions for New York City and spreading green practices with New York residence. To achieve her goal, Ms. Argento and her company have been working with Rooftop Farms, the first rooftop farm in the Greenpoint, Brooklyn located on 44 Eagle Street. In addition to harvesting fresh produce for Brooklyn restaurants such as Marlow & Sons and Anella, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is ideal for reducing urban pollution in NYC. This farming technique is actually allowing us to breathe in higher quality air and putting healthier food into our bodies.
In order to ensure a greener world, Ms. Argento will also be continuing another green house project already in the works. She has provided opportunities for the NYC Audubon and Alive Structures to use Broadway Stages warehouse rooftops to be converted into green roofs, farms and community gardens. Broadway Stages provided structural assessment of the roof’s sustainable weight and the waterproofing needed for the roof to allow this dream become a reality.
Reflecting back on her many accomplishments so far in 2017, Ms. Agento said: “I hope to spread and inspire others to take on philanthropic work. Broadway Stages will continue to support educational and communal institutions that help develop New York communities to demonstrate our commitment in reinvesting our success back into New York and New Yorkers.”
and check out Camp Brooklyn
and Roof Top Farms