By Jen Khedaroo
The more the merrier, especially when it comes to celebrating your birthday. About 120 children who participate in P.S. 116’s after-school program in Jamaica were chosen to celebrate the birthday of When In Need Foundation’s founder Dr. Chetachi Nwoga-Ecton on October 25.
The WIN Foundation provides grants for students and young professionals to continue their education and career. Additionally, the organization supports global schools, orphanages and various hostels, assisting the less fortunate and helping to provide the basic necessities to those in need.
Nwoga-Ecton moved to the United States from Nigeria at the age of 17. As a single mother of three, she struggled to improve her family’s quality of life. But with help, she worked her way into many successes, including opening a healthcare agency providing compassionate services to intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals in Philadelphia.
Inspired by those who helped her, Nwoga-Ecton formed the When In Need Foundation. Each year, Nwoga-Ecton chooses a school to help celebrate her birthday with a party.
In turn, she gives back to the community by providing basic items for families. This year, she gave the families of P.S. 116 a take-home package of a box of cereal, a loaf of bread and milk.
Along with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s Resource Development Director Mitchell Sternbach and the Queens Chamber, Nwoga-Ecton handed out the items to dozens of families.
“Your future is bright with organizations like this,” Sternbach told the kids. “The reason we’re all here is because we see the hope in you guys and in all of the children of southeast Queens and Jamaica.”
Dr. George Onuorah, director of Media Relations for the foundation, explained that though the foundation’s programs have expanded internationally, it’s important to remain in touch with those locally.
“We’ve visited England, France, Spain, Dominican Republic, Argentina and so on, but that’s an extension and this is home,” Onuorah said. “We can’t go outside without helping the community at home.”
At the event, children were given pizza, candy, juice, and cake. They were surprised with the party, which followed an afternoon of homework and other activities.
“Seeing the smiles on the children makes me so happy,” Nwoga-Ecton said. “It’s my birthday, but giving back to the children and the families of Jamaica is what it’s all about.”
“We are definitely appreciative of everything that has been done and everything that will continue to be done for our community of P.S. 116,” said Principal Debra Farrow.