When computers were stolen from classrooms at P.S. 35 before the end of the summer, it looked like the grinch stole the start of the school year. This December, Santa Claus came early to deliver much needed gifts to the school.
Non-profit housing developer Blue Sea Development, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and New York City’s Housing Development Corporation joined forces for a computer drive and were honored at a recent appreciation breakfast at P.S. 35, located at 261 E. 163rd Street. All three groups partnered together to replace computers and other electronic equipment that were stolen from the school in late August. New equiptment replaced the 36 laptops, 10 Mac computers, and 10 digital cameras that were taken.
The computer drive that replaced the stolen electronics was successful thanks to the work of Les Bluestone of Blue Sea, and it was organized by P.S. 35 alumnai Mary Hom, the deputy director of credit risk and executive vice president of HDC’s Residential Mortgage Insurance Company.
Bluestone, who heard about the news of the robbery later the same night, decided he had to do something. His company develops affordable housing in Morrisania. He said when he saw the look on the principal’s face on the news, he knew he had to help the school. Blue Sea donated $12,500 for new computers.
Bluestone said, “One of the most important things we learn in affordable housing development is that our families we have come to know, want the same things that the rest of us want in our lives, with the number one item being to provide the best we can for our children. It hurt me to think that, in order to get an education that will mean everything for their future, these children at P.S. 35 would have to overcome an obstacle that mean spirited people put in their way.”
The Horace Mann School also donated 24 laptop computers to P.S. 35. Hom said that she was motivated to do something after hearing the news and felt that the students were being robbed of not only computers, but of opportunity.
“I felt bad that these students in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city had been victimized,” Hom said. “I felt like these students were being robbed of their education, their future.”
The school had been transformed from a chalkboard environment into a technology-based school, said P.S. 35 principal Graciela Navarro. She said that with the DOE facing deep budget cuts, replacing the computers without outside help would be difficult or not possible this year.
“I was amazed by the kindness of many people who wanted to help,” Navarro said. “The donations to our school show that the Bronx matters; but more important, that the students in the Bronx have the same opportunities as students anywhere else in the world.