| "When a child's plight breaks
our heart, we're supposed to do something," says Kate Mulgrew in
the garden of the Incarnation Children's Center in upper Manhattan.
"We're supposed to reach out, put the child on our lap, kiss him and love
him." Mulgrew, with two sons of her own, has an affinity for kids,
and especially those at ICC. These children are homeless and infected
with the virus that causes AIDS.
Housed in a former convent, ICC is
New York City's only residence for HIV-infected children and provides
a variety of medical and social services. But its primary function
is not so clinical: to give the children some essential TLC. "If each child
does not have a grown- up to hold him every day, consistently and systematically,"
explains Mulgrew, who first learned about the center through a friend two
years ago, "even if the child survives AIDS, he will not know about
self-esteem or well-being." Since 1989, more than 700 infants and children
have occupied ICC's modest 18-bed facility. Parents, many of whom are battling
drug addiction, are encouraged to make regular and highly structured visits,
with the eventual goal of caring for the children themselves.
Mulgrew has been actively involved in the
organization for over a year now, visiting and caring for the children
whenever the schedule of her television series, Star Trek: Voyager,
permits, and helping to coordinate fund-raising activities. Mulgrew's
current project is raising money for a much needed medical facility.
Today, children at ICC requiring urgent medical care are sent to Columbia-
Presbyterian Medical Center. Though the treatment available there is state-of-the-art,
the hospital can't always provide the one-on-one nurturing that can
mean so much to a child. As Mulgrew puts it: “We want everything
under one roof so that a child never has to go a day without someone holding
Behind ICC's building, on Audubon Avenue in New York City, lies
a small patch of greenery. "I love coming here to play with the children,"
says Mulgrew, exploring with two small friends.
To learn more about Incarnation Children's Center, write the
ICC at 142 Audubon Ave, New York, NY 10032, or phone 212-928-2590.