The Children’s Museum of the East End started as a conversation between 8 local mothers in Long Island more than 20 years ago. Since that time, CMEE has blossomed into a bilingual community hub that welcomes more than 80,000 visitors per year. Through innovative programming and outreach efforts—including a weekly food pantry, English classes for new immigrants, and partnerships with countless social service agencies—the Museum upholds its mission “to spark imagination and foster learning for children of all backgrounds and abilities and to build strong connections within the East End of Long Island community by providing playful experiences.”
Shortly after the pandemic began, a survey of Museum members discovered their number one concern was food insecurity...almost 90% of respondents had been laid off or seen their hours reduced. In response to this need, CMEE staff launched a food pantry that now serves more than 70 families on a weekly basis. Since beginning the initiative, the Museum estimates it has provided food and other non-perishable items to more than 500 East End families.
To mark today’s summer fundraiser, we interview CMEE Board Member (and Marfa Muse), Aima Raza to find out more about their inspirational work, incredible response to the Covid-19 crisis and how we can all get involved.
This is a tough question because I am not quite sure where to start. Perhaps, I will start with a few adjectives that describe me: global citizen born in Hong Kong, grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and now living in NYC. I’m an avid traveller; passionate about everything from my kids to my daily fashion choices, to creating a peaceful world; and 100% committed to people and causes. I am a lawyer by training, a human rights educator, and a mom of boys.
I joined CMEE back in 2014 as a Board of Trustee and in 2021, I continue to serve the CMEE community. I have worked in various capacities including volunteering as an educator to teach life skills to women and children. I have also served as co-chair of the CMEE Board of Trustee.
The best way to support CMEE is to join the CMEE family. There are so many ways to do this. You can become a member of the Museum, visit CMEE whenever you are in town, volunteer at CMEE as an educator or work with our food pantry. The possibilities of being a CMEE supporter are truly endless.
I love CMEE and I am proud to be part of CMEE every single day, which explains why I am still here. However, I am proudest of the resilience of our CMEE staff and leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. When we thought all was lost, our amazing CMEE staff pulled off our food pantry to support families in need and we continue to do this because we want to leave no family in need of basic supplies…not in our town!! :)
The Marfa Stance quilt takes me back to my childhood city of Murree, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where as a child I would pull out our quilts on chilly evenings as I huddled around a wood burning fireplace to keep warm and shares jokes and stories with cousins and aunts and uncles over endless cups of warm tea and jelly topped biscuits.
I style my Marfa Stance Quilt with just about everything. From a floral gown I wore to a summer social event at Southampton Art Center, to wearing it with a pair of jeans and also over loose pantaloons on lazy Sunday mornings.
Marfa Stance will be donating a percentage of sales during the CMEE Summer Ladies Night but if you would like to donate directly, please visit the CMEE website HERE.