A long-time Bronx community activist is teaching our youth the principles of good manners and proper etiquette.
Barbara Gibson La Grant has dedicated her life to helping children improve their social skills.
She earned a Masters in Child Care at Child Care, Inc, now known as the Center for Children’s Initiatives.
It was around this time that Gibson La Grant first observed that many children she interacted with lacked social ability.
During her 20-year career working for the NYC Housing Authority she further observed the poor social interactions between today’s youth.
For example, she would notice that many kids would not say “please” and “thank you”, and would say “yeah” instead of the appropriate “yes”, when responding to someone.
This led Barbara to transform Alfrba, originally a 1960’s designer company she created in her post-graduate years, into an organization geared towards teaching youth about social manners and life skills in 2011.
The workshops conducted through Alfrba for kids, ages 7 to 15, introduce them to proper table manners, such as how to set the table with utensils, as well as how to clap during live events.
Manners, etiquette and self-esteem workshops take place every Thursday and Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. at 3325 Boston Road on the corner of 211th Street.
Students that graduate the course attend an event at Eastwood Manor to receive an Alfrba certificate.
Gibson La Grant has incorporated her designer skills into furthering her goals.
She created a set of two pillows shaped in an ‘M’ (for manners) and an ‘E’ (for etiquette) that include polite words and phrases in both English and Spanish.
She is currently working with a manufacturer to market the bilingual pillows to deliver her message to more youth.
“In today’s society, everybody, especially the younger generation, is used to communicating either through cell phones or other electronic devices, so every other form of communication has become obsolete,” Gibson La Grant said.
“That is why it is important not to forget how to properly communicate, person to person, and continue to develop and keep these social life skills, young or old.”
The North Carolina native has trademarked and copyrighted her business with the help of Start Small Think Big.
“They (SSTB) taught me how to make my business go in the right direction. I would never have gotten this far without them,” she added.
“Barbara has devoted a lot of time and energy to the youth of the community, and she has made a big impact on their lives,” said Fredtrine Jefferies, Barbara’s sister, who also acts as Alfrba’s vice president. “She loves those kids, loves guiding them, and the reward she receives for her hard work is seeing these kids mature and grow up – which makes it all worth it to her.”