HUNTS POINT, The Bronx- This is no circus, but AJ Dixon is showing us a few of his tricks. “Were you scared the first time you tried knives?" I asked. "I was honestly, really terrified," he laughed. The 14-year-old is getting a chance to explore his talents, here at The Point in the Bronx. “I was actually introduced to The Point because of its photography program,” Dixon said.
The all-purpose facility has offered free programming for a wide range of activities to the community since 1994. “The way we approach it is everyone can contribute to this neighborhood," Danny Peralta described. "Everybody’s an asset to the community, young, old, regardless of age or monetary status, you can make an impact."
Danny Peralta is the Executive Managing Director and aims to create a safe space where everyone can grow and succeed. “I came to The Point originally about 12-13 years ago to do black and white photography and along the way I developed a voice,” Peralta remembered.
From the dark room to the kitchen, there’s a place to thrive. “Seeing people eat my food and seeing smiles that makes me the happiest person,” Dawn Ortiz smiled. Dawn Ortiz has been coming here for most of her life and has transformed from student to employee to teacher, helping kids learn about healthy eating. “When I was younger I was really shy but just after staying here for so long it made me a stronger person and an actual leader,” she added.
Making all of this possible are the community partners, like Fidelis Care , which connects underserved families to necessary services like healthcare. “When we ran into Danny from this organization, it was a perfect match," George Rodriguez, Fidelis Care director of marketing, said. "Their mission was a great match to ours, which is also to develop the underserved communities.”
As Danny explains it really about learning a new skill then helping pass it along to someone else. “It’s about building self-esteem you know," Peralta said. "It’s really about people understanding they do have something to contribute.”
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi