Lucina Clarke wants to make sure that parents of children with autism never feel like they don’t have anyone to turn to. Along with her husband, she is the co-founder of My Time Inc., a support center in Canarsie that specializes in uplifting parents who are raising kids with developmental disabilities.
“Most parents feel that they are alone,” she said. “What My Time Inc. provides is a special place for that parent to say ‘You know what, I’m not all alone, I can be empowered and educated and I can be a great advocate for my child.’ ”
Growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of support services for parents of children with disabilities, Clarke quit her job as an in-home therapist in 2007 and drew up the papers for My Time Inc. after receiving what she described as a “sign from god.” She started hosting support groups in her basement, attracting people from all walks of life, and eventually was able to open a center at Flatlands Avenue. There, she began offering several programs for parents to learn about their child’s disabilities and connect with one another to share their experiences.
“We focus on building up the parent,” Clarke said. “The children are entitled to services, the parents should be entitled, too.”
Since opening, My Time Inc. has been lauded for its unique and important programs, bringing in parents from across the city. In 2009, Clarke took home the prestigious Brooke Russell Astor Award from the New York Public Library for her contributions to the community.
Along with My Time Inc., Clarke is an active member of her community, shuffling from meeting to meeting with a smile on her face. She is a member of Community Board 18, the secretary for the 69th Precinct Community Council, a member of the Lions Club and National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, and regularly volunteers at a Canarsie food pantry for the homeless.
Her peers can only try to keep up, acknowledging that this Woman of Distinction’s determination constantly motivates them to work harder.
“Her sense of community is contagious. When you speak to her she makes you want to do more and she brings out the best in people,” said Tonya Ores, who has worked with Clarke as executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn.
She is also beloved by Community Board 18, whose leader praised her sense of duty to her community.
“Lucina Clarke demonstrates a deep sense of loyalty and commitment to the maintenance of the quality of life for everyone. We are fortunate to have Lucina as an active member of Community Board 18,” said Dottie Turano, the advisory panel’s district manager. “She proves that someone who cares does make a difference.”
And Clarke says she is thankful she gets to wake up each day and serve. As for how she tackles it all, she follows her own formula.
“I will be tough when I have to be tough, but there are ways of being tough and still being kind,” she said.
OCCUPATION: Co-founder and executive director.
COMPANY: My Time Inc.
CLAIM TO FAME: Opened support services center for parents of children with disabilities.
FAVORITE BROOKLYN PLACE: I don’t want to be partial, but I love my Canarsie. It’s a nice, small, diverse community.
WOMAN I ADMIRE: Pastor Maureen Rush. She’s a pastor I admire because she is a woman before she is a woman of god. The reason I admire her is because of her tenacity and strong will.
MOTTO: Get up and do it. Don’t take no for an answer, no means on.