Hurricane Sandy hit at the end of October 2012, but families and communities are still reeling from its effects. I recently went to an event dedicated to those affected by Sandy, a winter benefit concert titled, “I Believe…” which was presented by the YWCA Extended Day Program and the UFT Charter School in Brooklyn, located at 300 Wyona St.

The concert featured performances from students that included singing, hip-hop dance, contemporary ballet, step and cheerleading. The YWCA Pep Squad, Karate Team, Crucial Dynasty Dance Team and the Glee Club delighted parents with their creative, energized performances. The benefit concert was very entertaining, especially the contemporary ballet number performed to Adele’s “Skyfall.”

Money was raised during the evening through admission, raffles and the selling of Hurricane Sandy buttons. Parents gave generously, which was evident as they claimed their prizes and rushed to the front of the auditorium with stacks of raffle tickets in their hands. The PTA donated the prizes, which included Toys R Us gift cards, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books and dinner and movie tickets.

Everything about the show had an innocence that touched the heart. The children were obviously excited to participate in the program. That was evident with each performance, especially those of the United Steppers, the UFT’s step team. The program also introduced the Crucial Dynasty Dance Team and the Pep Squad, which are the hip-hop and cheerleading groups–something new to the after-school program. All the young people who danced performed numbers choreographed by Nasasha Bruce, the dance teacher, and also created their own costumes. There was such a feeling of community in the auditorium.

The director of the YWCA Extended Day Program, Ashley Peters, co-hosted the event with her assistant director, Alicia Quinones. Peters shared background information on Sandy and let the parents know that the monies raised would go to the Coney Island YWCA sites that were deeply affected by the hurricane. Peters spoke to AmNews about the event and its purpose. “The Robert Bright Early Learning Center had the third floor damaged and has been closed since the storm–we are in the process of rebuilding,” she said.

This is not the first event that this YWCA Extended Day Program has had to help its sister programs. “For the entire month of November, we held a Hurricane Sandy Relief Program at UFT, asking for clothing, toiletries and coats, and donated it to the communities in Coney Island. We work with so many families in that area, so we have been helping in any way possible. The YWCA as a whole has held many weekly relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy, giving out food, water and other necessities.

“Currently, we are holding a Holiday Toy Drive at UFT Charter School for the month of December and giving away all of our donated toys to the children who attended the Roberta Bright Early Learning Center,” Peters explained.

The concert was very successful, Peters said. “We raised a total of $1,100 that will go directly towards the rebuilding of our early learning center in Coney Island. The performers were very excited to be a part of yesterday’s show because they knew they were helping others and making a huge difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Although the performance has passed, the public can still help, Peters said. “Log on to our YWCA website at and follow the link to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.”