Midtown Manhattan Complex lightened the mood for kids staying home with a virtual event including origami, baking and more.
2020 brought a new experience to more than 50 kids in the Morgan Stanley family. The Midtown Manhattan Complex traditionally hosts a Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event in April. Past celebrations included face painting, photo booths, and more. This year had to be a little different; virtual fun had to be arranged to excite and engage children of all ages.
The Midtown Manhattan Complex made the commitment to continue this year’s event in support of employees and their children. “It was important for us to stay connected to not just our Financial Advisors and our support staff, but also to the kids,” Damon Gallagher, Complex Manager, explained.
“In our complex, we view us all as one big family. We look out for each other. It was important to show that Morgan Stanley, not just the local management team, but Morgan Stanley, is there for the employees and their families. The kids look forward to it every year,” Damon said. Postponing that excitement wasn’t an option for Claudine Stanzione, who thoughtfully organized the event. Echoing Damon, she avowed that “the show must go on.”
Kids and parents share thanks
Chris McKeefrey, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, agreed with the need to move forward. “I think it was important to keep it going for the Complex culture and embrace the change we're living in.” His daughter, 11-year-old Shae McKeefrey expressed her feelings. “It's important because it’s fun and something you can do with family and learn things.”
Nearing his 20-year work anniversary, Anthony Rinella, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, shared his gratitude toward the firm for caring about the employees and keeping morale up. “This is the best office I've ever been part of and best group of people. Events like this make a hard situation easier to bear; it’s about persevering through a difficult time, being grateful, and supporting others.”
There was a wonderful variety of activities for kids of all ages to enjoy including origami, drawing, baking, a virtual field trip, and a movie. Whether it was watching the pandas at Zoo Atlanta or following 11-year-old Alex Kavallieratos’ demonstration of how to make “elephant ears” puff pastries, activities were carefully chosen given the stay-at-home nature of everyone’s lives.
All six of Financial Advisor Maryann Kavallieratos’ kids participated in this year’s virtual event. With ages ranging from two to 11, they had only positive things to say. 10-year-old Peter chose three words to describe the day: “fun, educational and cool.”
“Boss Baby! Boss Baby!” Two-year-old Nicholas wanted to make sure everyone knew how much he loved the movie choice, while four-year-old Samantha really liked coloring and eight-year-old Joey appreciated the origami and card-making.
Maryann expressed her gratitude for the event and said it was important for the kids as they navigate virtual learning and online school. “They were really happy that Morgan Stanley continued this tradition. They were happy to have the experience and grateful that somebody cared enough to put it together,” Maryann said.
Kudos go to Alex for this year’s baking portion of the event. He explained that he’s been baking with his mom since he was three years old and when he was approached to share his skills, he wanted to help. “Everything that's happening in the world, it's a crazy place right now. And I think people need something to come back to mentally to just have a fun time. That's why I wanted to help.”
Shae was a big fan of Alex’s contribution and said it was her favorite activity because “the pastries tasted very good afterwards. I look forward to being able to continue making the elephant cookies!”
Eight-year-old Tony Rinella said this event was important because it helped parents and children “keep hopes up.” The Mitrano sisters, Finley, 12, and Quinn, 10, are three-time veterans of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. While they missed seeing everyone, they expressed their gratitude for the continued event.
“I feel like staying in can be boring, so this gave us something fun to do while we're inside. Other kids that don't have a parent or someone that works at Morgan Stanley, they don’t get to do this event and they may not have anything to do except for school at home,” Finley stated.
Her mom, Karyn Mitrano, First Vice President, Senior Complex Risk Officer, added, “One of the benefits to it being virtual this year was we can control the timing and we could go back and do something if they want to do it again.”
Nine-year-old Ryan McKeefrey has attended four previous kids’ day events at Morgan Stanley and said, “I want to say thank you for keeping doing because it helps us learn more stuff every time.”
Giving back takes precedence
These events also have activities that teach life and/or business skills as well as a philanthropic theme focused on empathy and helping others. This year, parents and children alike supported local community members working to save lives. The Complex raised more than $20,000 to buy meals for frontline hospital workers and first responders. Giving back is a big part of the firm’s culture.
For the Mitrano and McKeefrey families, this cause touches especially close to home. Quinn and Finley’s dad works at a hospital, while Shae and Ryan’s aunt is a nurse. Like many, they are also close to delivery drivers, EMTs, and other people who are helping everyone get through this unusual time.
Karyn described just how meaningful the philanthropic work is to everyone at the firm: “We're happy to be able to do anything we can. We have an amazing office and we’ve been able to feed a lot of first responders and it’s really heartwarming. At the end of the day, everybody is thankful for what they're doing so we can all be home and we can stay safe and our families can be safe.”
Chris’ sister works at one of the hospitals that was selected to receive donated meals and said, “We got a great thank you picture back from her and a number of her colleagues enjoying the meal that was provided. It was done to lift spirits and it certainly achieved its goal.”
Keeping the youngsters involved with the giving back aspect, one of the activities had kids create cards for first responders who are on the frontlines of the pandemic. The McKeefrey siblings, Shae and Ryan, created cards saying, “Thank you healthcare workers. Thank you delivery drivers. Thank you first responders.” Quinn Mitrano said, “My favorite activity was making cards because they were so fun. We were able to get really creative with it!”
Her sister Finley’s card was as creative as she was thankful. Along with a cactus sticker on the card, she wrote a simple note: “Thank you for sticking with it.”
Seven-year-old Katherine Kavallieratos summed the day up succulently: “It was a happy day! It was a fun day too!”