About Us

Founded in 1997, Giving Friends is managed by dedicated long-time volunteers and is funded solely through our generous donors. We deliver gifts and necessities to vulnerable families who live in underserved communities in the metropolitan New York City area. We will be a friend to struggling parents working hard to break the cycle of addiction, homelessness, and poverty.

Meet Our Team

Lynne Corry, Founder

Lynne is the founder and CEO of Giving Friends. She took her Annual Holiday Toy Drive to the next level by creating an official nonprofit organization to give back to the community that helped save her life. Lynne has been delivering smiles for over 20 years. Her reach is growing every year, with a little help from her friends! Her commitment to helping mothers and children living in residential treatment centers and beginning their journey in recovery has been praised by many social service agencies as well as the local media. Together with the Giving Friends team, Lynne is excited to develop more ways of giving to families in need.

Tyler Smyth

Tyler is the inspiration for Giving Friends. He is Lynne’s motivation to become a sober mother. Tyler was raised in sobriety and has been an integral part of the annual toy drive since elementary school. He has organized class and grade toy collection and fundraising events. Tyler has recruited his high school to participate, and both the school and his friends continue to participate every year. Tyler was amazed on how much his high school was able to contribute for our  2019 challenge. Tyler is working and attending college and will continue to fund raise for Giving Friends on a part-time basis. Education is the priority and we want him to stay on track! We know we can count on him and his friends whenever we need them!

Bernadette Massa

Bernadette has been supporting Giving Friends for over 15 years, helping with donations, wrapping and deliveries. She has introduced us to new communities where our services are much needed. In 2021 she was the driving force to deliver over 500 coats, hats and gloves to underserved children in Peekskill NY. Bern is an award winning local Real Estate agent, lives in the Bronx, she is the proud mother of two success stories and the grandmother of four, so far! She is highly regarded in our community making her an asset to the Giving Friends mission, always willing to help someone in need.

Patricia Cavanaugh

Patty has been an integral part of Giving Friends for over 10 years and a dedicated and committed volunteer to the mission of our organization. Her ability to walk into a room of thousands of toys and items and create order out of chaos is a gift we cherish! We rely on her throughout the year for her sensibility and organizational skills. Patty has multiple advanced degrees, but her heart has led her to the profession she enjoys the most: teaching.  She is mother to 7, (yes, 7 children!), and grandmother to 9 grandchildren. With such a large and always growing brood, we are grateful that she still finds time to support the families of Giving Friends

Jim Siegel

Jim has been a supporter of Giving Friends’ annual holiday toy drive for 20 years from when he and founder, Lynne Corry, were Board members at the family-focused substance abuse agency, Veritas, the original home of the Young Mothers Program. He brings 40+ years’ wide-ranging experience as a marketing communications professional in the business and nonprofit social services sectors. As program director at the Partnership for a Drug-free America, Jim and the team developed online communications programs to help parents reduce teen drug abuse. Jim recruited Lynne to the Partnership’s Parents Advisory Board that assisted families to have the conversation about addiction, and Lynne and son Tyler were highlighted in a fundraising video for their annual gala.

Margaret Walker Hurst, LCSW​

Social Worker, Polymath, Humanist

Margaret Hurst is the current Director at Bronx Addiction Treatment Center, she received her MSW from Fordham University and is a doctoral candidate in Human and Organizational Psychology at Touro University. She brings a passion to helping others to all her charitable endeavors, from serving as Co-Chairperson of the American Heart Association’s Red Ball to Founder of Upper West Siders Against Puppy-Mills. Ms. Hurst met Lynne while serving as Director of Samaritan Daytop Village’s Young Mother’s Program where Lynne brings her Annual Christmas Giving Extravaganza to benefit the mothers residing at the facility.

Solita Alexander Riley

Champion of Wellness

Solita Alexander Riley is a champion of wellness at all levels: individual, familial, societal, and global. As a program administrator who moonlights in municipal government, Solita has designed and developed programs for youth and adults across diverse communities, educational and professional backgrounds. Nearest to her heart is her work as an activist, educator, ecumenical leader, and as a mental health counselor. Solita provided family counseling services at Veritas, where she was privileged to support and learn from the women of the Young Mothers Program (YMP). Almost a decade after that experience, Solita discovered that her then-colleague, Lynne Corry, was uniquely involved with YMP.  Solita was instantly drawn to the effort to support strong families and communities in the metropolitan area as GivingFriends. She is excited to encourage others to join the effort, so be ready for her outreach! Solita holds degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University, and Union Theological Seminary. Born in Belize to a proud Guyanese family, Solita now lives in New York City with her husband and son, the dynamic duo known as “The Freds.”.

Inelda Flores

Inelda is a special GIVING FRIEND – she is our inventory and organizing expert! She has led many of our events all with positive outcomes. Inelda is a native New Yorker and is passionate about the mission of Giving Friends and the need to serve our community. Inelda holds an Associates, Bachelors and Masters Degree and has been a teacher in NYC for over twenty five years. She has been the Dean of Discipline at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx for the past 10 years. Inelda is very busy keeping high schoolers in line with restorative practices and still finds time to volunteer on the front lines of Giving Friends. She returned to the High School she graduated from to begin her teaching career – she is all about giving back! She lives in the Bronx with her two, four legged children, Tasha and Cola – she never misses walking her dogs!

Svetlana "Lana" Radakovic

Lana has strong roots in the community we serve and has championed support from the Bronx Branch of Alma Bank – one of our largest corporate sponsors. Lana is the Regional Vice President and manages branches throughout NYC. She has been recognized in the financial services industry for supporting community efforts -and Giving Friends is honored to have her sit at the board table! Lana has been on the front lines of many ‘giving’ events and is leading us through many more. She has recruited support from neighbors, community members and her family – her three children and husband are all part of the Giving Squad. Lana graduated with a Masters in Mathematics from the University of Niš.

Tanya Priber

Tanya embraces the opportunity provided by Giving Friends to contribute her skills, knowledge and experience to benefit others. She joined Giving Friends in 2021 as a “digital volunteer” and manages and maintains the Giving Friends website. Tanya collaborates closely with Lynne Corry, Giving Friends CEO, and fellow board member, Jim Siegel, to ensure website content consistency and continuity. She brings over 12 years as a user experience and product design professional across various sectors including agency, health information and wellness, financial media and non-profit. Continuous professional development is an essential part of her professional practice.  Prior to launching her career as a digital professional, Tanya was an award-winning technology educator at an independent girls high school in the New York area. Outside of her “digital life” Tanya enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and pursuing her interests in photography and the arts. 

Peter Mertens

Peter is the Assistant Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD), Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. During his twenty-year plus tenure at Hostos CEWD and in his current rank as Assistant Dean, Peter has helped to develop a flourishing Division with over 70 industry-based certificate programs. Peter oversees a portfolio of tuition-based, contract-based and grant-based programs that support job readiness, continuing education and workforce development. Prior to coming to CUNY Peter served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Junior Achievement of New York. Peter started his career in education as a New York City elementary and middle school teacher. Peter currently is a member of the Fort Lee Library Board of Trustees and the Fort Lee High School Academy of Finance Advisory Board Chair.

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