By Holly Wilensky
Jun 30, 2010
Do you want to be real runway model? Are you an artist that wants to have an art opening in a real art gallery? Does music or acting sound appealing to you? Ever dream of being a photographer or making films? Bayside native Hal Eisenberg is the hometown hero that gives equal opportunity for anyone ages 6 to 24 to “Be all you can be!” The best part? All programming is strictly funded by sponsors, donations from the community and private donors to ensure that it costs nothing for a child or young adult to come and find their true talent.
Windows of Opportunity (WOO) is a non-profit organization that gives youths the chance to have their dreams come true. With the extensive programming strategies that Eisenberg and his team have designed, WOO believes there is “guaranteed success for anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, health issues, or family financial status.” WOO volunteers and teachers are the best at what they do: getting kids to believe in themselves.
WOO programs held at Russell Sage JHS 190 in Forest Hills include delicate subjects that most teens and young adults are faced with in today’s society. Programs include eating disorder awareness, HIV education and prevention, suicide awareness and prevention, self-empowerment workshops and programs encouraging parents and teens to build strong families together. The WOO community ensures positive imagery while encouraging kids to make healthy choices.
Having worked in youth development for 15 years, Hal’s vision of WOO is now reality. This is the sixth year Eisenberg and his team are helping kids create long- and short-term goals, providing leadership training and fostering positive self-esteem. These skills help create successful futures for young adults.
Olivia Mignone, 19, has been an active WOO participant since she was 15. While participating in a variety of classes and training to be workshop leader, she decided to pursue a career in modeling. She was told by several elite Manhattan agencies that no one less than 5’7 would even be considered for any type of job placement in the modeling industry. Refusing to take “no” for an answer, she proposed approached Eisenberg about creating a program for aspiring models under 5’7. With the support of WOO, Short Stack Agency was born.
Now with 20 girls in the program, Olivia coordinates classes, calls on industry professionals and plans a yearly fashion show for the Short Stack Agency models. This year’s sold-out fashion show featured a mix of several clothing lines and sponsors including Bombshell Clothing, David’s Bridal, Hot Topic and Banana Republic.
A local designer showcased in the fashion show was 11-year old Maria Manolis. With the help of her grandmother, she designed three dresses, hired a seamstress, held fittings and chose a model to wear her creations for the show.
Between ticket sales, raffles and donations from generous guests, Mignone raised over $12,000 for Short Stack and Windows of Opportunity. The event brought dozens of photographers and press members, including a representative from America’s Next Top Model! Reviews for the show were undeniably, absolutely, outrageously fabulous!
The words “I can’t” do not exist at Window of Opportunity. Innovative empowerment programming coupled with guidance and teamwork makes WOO the “cool hangout” for kids these days.
Don’t be surprised to see WOO in Chicago and Florida in the near future. Please go to www.eisenbergacdmy.wpengine.com or www.wooshortstack.org for more information.
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