Sun Rays _ Houses - Retreat 2023 _1_

November: Our Annual All Staff Retreat

On November 7th 2023, Center for Family Life held our Annual All Staff Retreat at MS 136/821. More than 325 staff from across our main office and ten neighborhood school sites engaged in a day full of thought-provoking and team-building activities. The Annual Retreat is a unique opportunity to refresh staff’s commitment to our agency mission while enhancing their knowledge about the community we serve and the different programs within CFL.

Prior to the Retreat, each program created a visual art piece to communicate what their program does and how it contributes to our work in the community.

School children's artwork in a collaborative art mural.

These pieces were then combined into one collaborative art mural that welcomed staff when they arrived in the auditorium.

The event began with a “Take a Stand” welcome activity where staff commonalities were highlighted, and each program team was introduced. Suddenly, the lights dimmed and staff were transported to the “Universe of Sunset Park,” as brave “superhero” staff flew down the aisle ready to take on leadership of 15 discussion groups (D Groups). As members of these smaller cross-program leagues of superheroes, staff joined forces in the mission to dismantle systemic inequity, promote social justice, and unleash the potential for growth and change.

Three women smiling with superhero masks.
Our superhero D Group leaders are energized and ready to guide staff on their mission.
An African American woman with a purple super hero cape and eye mask.

Once in their D Group headquarters, staff got better acquainted as they took on mini missions and group challenges. Together, they analyzed community district data, identified and mapped special features in Sunset Park, and pooled their knowledge about CFL’s different programs, sites, and staff roles. They then brainstormed ideas for new cross-site collaborations to meet the emerging needs in our community.  

Each staff member designed a personal emblem that became part of their

D Group’s colorful ray of energy. Later, as a final reveal at the culmination of the retreat, the full spectrum of sunrays created a spectacular backdrop combining each individual staff member’s “superpower” into an unstoppable force for good in Sunset Park.

Staff shared their final reflections in their D Groups over a delicious meal catered by Sea & Soil, a cooperative sandwich shop in Brooklyn formed by two former CFL staff members.

Our neon green D Group proudly displays their map of notable locations in Sunset Park that reflect our vibrant community.

The All-Staff Retreat concluded back in the auditorium with a recognition ceremony where staff members with educational milestones, including those who had recently graduated and those currently in college or grad school, were enthusiastically cheered and congratulated for their achievements.

Multi-Site Supervisor and SPHS Program Director Kristie Mancell recognized for her 20 years of service.

Staff were also recognized for longevity milestones including 16 staff celebrating 5 years. We were especially excited to honor 8 of our longest staff members with heartfelt speeches and personalized videos showing their journey and growth over 10, 15, 20 and 25 years of service.

Co-Executive Director Julia Jean-Francois awarded for her 20 years of service.
Program Coordinator (PS 503/506) Wanda Williams honored for her 25 years of service.

Thank you to our Board members, special guests, and dedicated staff for joining us on this special day and

Happy 45th Anniversary to Center for Family Life!

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