UpNext was busy this holiday season! We began our celebration by hosting our annual Thanksgiving lunch for our current program participants and alumni. These events allow for current dad participants to engage with alumni who provide advice and share their post UpNext experience. UpNext staff and participants gathered around a decorated table to eat, laugh, and embrace one another. A special thank you to Balducci’s and the Corner Café for donating sides and a delicious turkey! Among our guests were UpNext alumni employed at Time Square Alliance, our transitional employment partner. These alumni shared their past experiences as UpNext participants, and how the program enabled them to develop the passion and diligence to succeed at Time Square Alliance. They encouraged our job-seeking fathers to remain patient, dedicated, and focused while participating at UpNext. Although in the beginning, some fathers in the room were unfamiliar with one another, they all immediately developed bonds that reflected the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
December soon came after and to close out the we also held our annual holiday party for UpNext dads, their co-parents, and children. A big special thank you to AT&T Northern NJ Leadership Team for donating toys for our UpNext children! The party was filled with good conversations and food! After eating, the children participated in fun arts-and-crafts activities. Everyone in our room was festive and holiday-theme music gave the atmosphere a merry vibe. It was a wonderful feeling watching our fathers leave the party happy and in the comfort of their loved ones.
These parties and the smiles they brought to the faces of our fathers and their families remind us of the reason why our program matters. We at UpNext hope that our fathers spent a safe and memorable holiday season with their families. We also wish them and our readers, a Happy New Years!