The Book Bank Foundation, an inner-city children’s charity founded by celebrity sports agent and philanthropist Glenn Toby (at left), will honor neurologist Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin and 21-year old child welfare reform advocate Jamel Robinson at the 5th Annual BBF Hero Awards on Sunday, December 7th, 2008 in New York City. Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin will receive the Vanguard award for his exemplary leadership and achievements within the medical community and Robinson will be presented with the Hero award for his courageous efforts to improve outcomes for children in the New York City foster care system.
Originally from Trinidad, Dr. Carlisle L. St. Martin immigrated to Brooklyn at the age of 5. The oldest of eight children, he was raised in a poor single parent home by his mother, a public health nurse. As a young child, his eyes were badly crossed. At nine years old, he went through a series of rigorous eye surgeries, leading him to his vocation of "helping people like the doctors that helped him." In 1972, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed medical school at SUNY Downstate. After his residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital, Dr. St. Martin opened his own medical practice in Forest Hills, Queens in 1984. He credits his childhood mentors, the nuns at St. Barbara's Elementary School, for giving him the foundation to excel in his studies. "Once you can read you can achieve anything," says St. Martin. As an attributed neurologist who has helped hundreds of people nationwide, he is also an active member of The Book Bank Foundation.
Jamel Robinson (in photo below) was born in 1987 to a drug addicted mother. Two months later, he was placed in foster care, where he remains to this day. With both drugs and alcohol in his system at birth, Jamel was diagnosed with a series of physical and psychological ailments including: Failure to Thrive, Mild Cerebral Palsy, Quadriplegia, A.D.H.D and other learning disabilities. Within the foster care system, he was subject to neglect and sexual abuse. In 2001, he dropped out of high school and by 2005, he was incarcerated.
Despite these unfortunate circumstances, Jamel has become a voice for youth in the foster care system holding NYC's child welfare system accountable to the success and failures of all children in its care. He has served as a keynote speaker at colleges, foundations, community organizations, youth forums and community meetings. "It is my undying, unwavering overall commitment to improve the outcome and quality of life for NYC's most disenfranchised youth and my peers in our city's foster care system," says Jamel. He is currently completing his studies at the City College of New York, in hopes of becoming an attorney.
Like the honorees, Glenn Toby also had his share of difficulties early in life. He frequently travels the country to share his rise from homelessness to representing well known athletes and entertainers. He shares, "Jamel is evidence that our youth play a significant role in the enrichment of our community. For a young man raised in the foster care system to become such a great voice for the abused and underprivileged within the same system, not only is heroic but an ultimate act of selfless service to society." Mr. Toby continued, "Dr. St. Martin is one of the most prominent neurologists in our community who has given so freely and quietly that it often appears as if it does not happen at all. I can't count how many times he has given free medical care to New Yorkers in need."
The evening will begin with a cocktail reception followed by the awards ceremony. The event is open to the public with a $20 donation. Proceeds will go towards The Book Bank Foundation's "Shelter From The Streets" campaign. The event will be held at Fashion 40, 202 West 40th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue) at 4 pm.
About The Book Bank Foundation
The Book Bank Foundation was founded by in 1997, in an effort to boost literacy among the nation's youth with an emphasis on inner city children. With its corporate office in New York City, the foundation provides tutoring, alternative education, career development and special projects to thousands of children in New York City improving the quality of education and life of many families city wide. The Book Bank Foundation has donated over 450,000 hours of community service over the last 10 years and has distributed an average of $140,133 of donations to the less fortunate per year. For more information please visit http://www.thebbf.org/.