Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Does Community Mean to You?

Dear Supporter,

On a Friday night last month, twelve Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) program participants gathered to explore this question and consider what makes a community stronger or weaker. These young men and women, many of whom had been directly involved in violence, discussed what actions had positive or negative impacts in their own community and brainstormed new ways to spread positive messages here in Brooklyn. When asked what he learned during the event, one participant said:

I always had a negative outlook on everything. So when people, including S.O.S., would approach me to deliver a positive message, I would shun them. Until I was shot and S.O.S. came to see about me in the hospital. I learned to pay attention to the message.

We ask for your support as we continue to spread messages of peace and work to build safer and healthier communities for everyone. You read our blog to stay in the know about our work and hopefully play a part in it too. This is your chance to play that part. Please take a moment to make an end-of-year gift to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center today or donate an item from our Amazon Wishlist.

December 2nd marks the third annual #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to celebrating the causes we care about most. At the Mediation Center, we are proud of the ways in which we've contributed to the cause of anti-violence so far. 
When our street team started working in 2010, there were 24 shootings in the S.O.S. Crown Heights target area. This year, it is down to 9. The Center for Court Innovation's research, completed in 2012, demonstrated that without our program, shootings likely would have increased as they did in similar neighborhoods without the program. 

Additionally, in the past year:

  • Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) expanded and now has a new target area in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • Make It Happen (MIH), a program for male victims of community violence, began to offer both school and community-based programming and developed a Peer Mentoring Network to keep program graduates involved
  • Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) graduated 13 participants last spring and recruited 24 young people this fall who are currently participating in the 8-month skill building and peer education program to decrease violence
  • The Save Our Streets Clergy Action Network (S.O.S. CAN) held the first "Increase the Peace: Youth Symposium" providing workshops, food and entertainment to more than 100 youth and adults
  • Neighbor Services provided walk-in services to nearly 450 community members, offering assistance with employment, benefits, tutoring, and health care enrollment, and with legal services through a partnership with the New York Legal Aid (NYLAG) Mobile Legal Help Center
  • The Mediation Center hosted a packed Arts to End Violence festival including a Talent Show, Block Party, and Art Gallery

We are incredibly grateful for the decrease in gun violence in 2014 and for this expansion in services. We also realize that there is still much more work to do. We envision neighborhoods not only free of shootings, but enriched with resources, community pride, and ample opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential. 

In Peace,
Amy Ellenbogen and the rest of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center Staff

P.S. To give online, be sure to select the "Crown Heights Community Mediation Center" from the drop down menu. All donors will be automatically entered into a raffle to win a gift card from a local business! If you prefer to give by mail, checks can be made out to our parent organization, the Fund for the City of New York, sent to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center at 256 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213.

P.P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates on #GivingTuesday throughout the day, including photos from our #UNselfie #UNdoviolence project!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crown Heights Feasts on Pie and Remembers What We Have to be Thankful For

Tuesday evening November 25th, participants from all Mediation Center programs, including S.O.S., YO S.O.S., and Make It Happen gathered to remember our gratitude and feast on pies. Pies were fresh baked by staff and community members and also donated by our neighbors at Fine Fare Supermarket as well as Momofuku Milk Bar in Williamsburg. Pies included pumpkin, pecan sweet potato, apple, squash, and coconut. 

There was also a photo booth staffed by volunteer photographer Brittany Buongiorno with decorations donated by Mimosa Floral Design on Kingston Ave. The interactive photo booth gave community members, volunteers, and staff an opportunity to recall why we stand against violence and what tactics we can use to peacefully resolve interpersonal conflicts. An evening of food, connection, and games helped us remember that we have a lot to be thankful for in Crown Heights! 
Check out our Facebook next week for photos from the booth!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

S.O.S. Staff Attend "A Call To Men" to Challenge Sexism and Promote Healthy Masculinity

From left: Kenton Kirby, David Grant, Juan Ramos

On November 3 – 4 2014, SOS Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights staff attended a professional development opportunity at A Call to Men. The organization, geared toward engaging men and boys in healthy masculinity and challenging sexism, was attended by over 75 participants, mainly men.

The conference covered many topics including men’s roles in ending violence against women, positive masculinity, historical context of race in America, and community organizing with men in mind.

The S.O.S. members present participated and allowed themselves to be challenged to think outside the traditional male box, in order to avoid unhealthy masculinity and choices for men at the expense of women, girls and other men.

Neighbors Gather with S.O.S. Bed-Stuy to Celebrate Thanksgiving

On Saturday November 22, 2014  close to 200 community residents turned out to be part of the Thanksgiving dinner at Herbert Von King Park (Tomkins Park).
The dinner was sponsored by the Von King Recreation center, 500 Men, Save Our Streets Bed-Stuy, A2B, Order of the Feather and Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School.
The S.O.S. Bed-Stuy team help prepare the center for dinner, assisted in serving food and helped bag canned and other goods for residents to take home. Among the food to take home residents will also find pub-ed material on S.O.S. Bed-Stuy, which was put into every bag.

Overall the entire day was a huge success for all organizations involved in the organizing and service. S.O.S. Bed-Stuy was able to generate a buzz among community residents who showed interest in our work and a genuine urge to end the gun violence which plagues our community in Bed-Stuy.
The event also helped S.O.S. Bed-Stuy sign up 15 new volunteers all interested in participating in events and shooting responses.

Our team as usual shined in the moment as they embraced community members in memorable conversations and expressions of love for the Bed-Stuy community and its future. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

S.O.S. Organizes Rally for Shooting that Occurred at Pacific St. and Troy Ave.

The evening of Thursday, Nov 20, over 20 people gathered at the corner of Pacific St. and Troy Ave. to acknowledge a shooting that took place early the previous morning. Several Youth Organizers were present, along with members of Mosaic Baptist Church, Mediation Center staff, S.O.S. staff, neighbors, and volunteers. Revs. Woodley Victor and Michele Quick offered prayers for peace. Thanks to all who stand with us against violence on our streets!

Friday, November 21, 2014

S.O.S. Bed-Stuy team greets parents and families at neighborhood PAL

On Thursday, November 6, over 25 parents came out to attend the SOS Bed-Stuy community event at the PAL aimed at introducing SOS to the community and generate possibilities for community involvement. 


At the end of the presentation parent after parent raised their hand to say thank you and declare their support to the SOS team and they committed themselves to volunteering for future SOS events.

Monday, November 17, 2014

S.O.S. Outreach Workers Discuss Cure Violence Model

Last Friday, November 14, S.O.S. Outreach Workers from our sites in Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, South Bronx and Morrisania came together to talk about how they are able to prevent gun violence in our neighborhoods. The panel took place at the Center for Court Innovation in midtown Manhattan with about 65 people in attendance. S.O.S. staff also spoke about how the Cure Violence model began in Chicago, and how the Chicago model led to the beginning of S.O.S. in 2009 in New York City.

Barry Wiles, an Outreach Worker from S.O.S. Bed-Stuy, spoke about the message he tries to send young people every day, saying, "Conflict don't always have to end in physical violence ... you could walk away from that."


Fifth Fish Fry in the Fall Fries Up Some Fresh Fish!

Friday night, November 14th, S.O.S. Crown Heights had its Fall Fish Fry on Kingston Avenue.  We cranked up the music, Outreach Worker Rudy Suggs cranked up the outdoor burner and fried up fresh tilapia, and the rest of the outreach team served sandwiches and soft drinks to over 100 program participants and neighborhood residents. Our own Jazzi Z. served as coordinator, greeter, and animator. Fish Fry in the Fall is an annual tradition of the S.O.S. team.  This is the fifth fish fry we've organized since the program activities began. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Crown Heights Neighbors Discuss Community Issues

Over 25 community members gathered Wednesday evening at the Mediation Center to connect with one another and discuss issues of importance to the neighborhood. Through a "World Cafe" style conversation, neighbors had the chance to mingle with one another to talk about the strengths of Crown Heights as well as ideas for future improvements.

Participants discovered some of the assets of Crown Heights: artists, lawyers, parks, transportation, and more!
Participants also listed some of Crown Heights' needs: more jobs, access to fresh food, gardens, access to childcare.

Special guest and community organizer from New York Communities for Change  Nefertiti McCaulay presented herself as a resource for community members who want to organize for change in Crown Heights.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

S.O.S. Bed-Stuy Takes Part in Open House with Police Athletic League

On October 11, 2014 Veterans Day the SOS Bed-Stuy team was part of a community open house at the PAL. We were able to table at the event providing the community and the teen’s information about SOS and our work in the community, while challenging them to consider joining our efforts by volunteering their time.  
Our team also manned the grill on the street, which provided food and beverages to the teens who came out and the residents who joined.
This was a complete community event, even the police got into the mood and setting as they played basketball with the teen boys and danced to the Bobby Shmurder song.

Everyone who came enjoyed themselves. Community residents seems happy to see something different happening in the neighborhood and the Teens all had only one future request, they want to see the SOS bed-Stuy team play the police department in some B-Ball…. To be continued.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

S.O.S. Participants Discuss Community in Crown Heights

Monday night, 12 S.O.S. participants joined Outreach Workers David Gaskin, Rudy Suggs, Lavon Walker, and Craig Alexander at the Mediation Center to connect with one another and discuss the meaning of community in their lives. 

When asked what he learned during the event, one participant said, " "I always had a negative outlook on everything. So when people,  including SOS would approach me to deliver a positive message, I would shun them. Until I was shot and SOS came to see about me in the hospital. So I learned never mind the messengers.  Pay attention to the message." Participant events are a great opportunity for people in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy to form connections and think critically about their lives.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bed-Stuy Parents Support S.O.S.!

Last night over 25 parents came out to attend the S.O.S. Bed-Stuy community event at the Police Athletic League. The event aimed to introduce S.O.S. to the Bed-Stuy neighborhood and to generate possibilities for community involvement.

At the end of the presentation, parent after parent raised their hands to say thank you and declare their support to the S.O.S. team. They committed themselves to volunteering for future S.O.S. events.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

YO S.O.S. is Now Accepting Applications!

Applications for YO S.O.S. 2014-15 are now available!

Click here for online application

YO S.O.S. offers bi-weekly after-school workshops which utilize dynamic popular education methods in order to help participants make positive life choices and become leaders in their communities. Workshops cover topics such as community organizing, conflict de-escalation & resolution, trauma and mental health, and healthy communication among others. In addition to core content, workshops are designed to develop transferable skills including research strategies, teamwork, and critical thinking.

Participants who successfully complete the program receive a stipend and are eligible for paid summer employment or internship positions.

Questions? Call (718) 773-6886 
or email dayh@crownheights.org

Visitors from London

Outreach Worker David Gaskin, left,
with British visitor Dawn Joseph
On Thursday, September 18, S.O.S. Crown Heights welcomed two visitors from the Centre for Justice Innovation in the United Kingdom. They visited to learn more about the S.O.S. model in New York. We were privileged to spend the afternoon sharing information about our work in Crown Heights.

Pictured from left: Ashley McLain, Amy Ellenbogen, Lavon Walker, Dawn Joseph

Friday, September 12, 2014

Meet Kevin, Our Newest Staff Member!

We are happy to welcome our AVODAH Corps Member, Kevin Hershey, to S.O.S. and Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Our amazing high school youth staff interviewed Kevin to find out more about him:

YO S.O.S.: Where are you from?

Kevin:        St. Paul, Minnesota

YO S.O.S.: How did you find out about the Mediation Center?

Kevin:     Kevin: I found out about it through AVODAH Jewish Service Corps, an organization that engages young leaders in full-time social justice work.

YO S.O.S.: What do you enjoy about the job?

Kevin: I enjoy forming relationships with the different people who walk through our door!

YO S.O.S.: What does the fox say?

Kevin:        If you want peace work for justice.

YO S.O.S.: Who is your favorite person in your family?

Kevin: I love my whole family. Something I really like about my brother, Sean, is that he lives in Crown Heights and is a social worker.

YO S.O.S.: What is your favorite meal?

Kevin: My favorite meal has always been a turkey sandwich, especially from a New York deli.

YO S.O.S.: How do you describe love?

Kevin:       I feel that love is learning to value yourself enough to give yourself to others.

Fun Fact: Kevin’s great grandfather’s cousin invented the Hershey bar!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Judge from Saint Lucia Visits S.O.S. Crown Heights

Names Left to Right: Rudy Suggs, Craig Alexander, Francis Belle (Judge), Allen James, Derick Latif Scott, David Gaskin

Save Our Streets Crown Heights hosted Judge Francis Belle of St. Lucia at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Judge Belle is a Barbadian lawyer and judge who has worked in a number of Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean. Judge Belle visited the U.S. as a JAMS fellow to learn more about community based responses to urban violence. He visited the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center to learn more about S.O.S. and the Cure Violence program model.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to School Giveaway

On Saturday, September 6, S.O.S. Crown Heights hosted a back to school event at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center to distribute free school supplies and echo safety and non-violent problem solving messages.

Activities and school supply packages for elementary, middle and high school age groups were provided. Sixty visitors signed in for a total participation of approximately 80 children and adults.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Community Rally Against Violence

On Wednesday evening, Sept. 3rd, S.O.S. Crown Heights organized a neighborhood rally in response to the fatal stabbing of Nequan K.J. Butts Friday night, Aug 29th on Troy Avenue near Park Place. More than 30 people joined the gathering at the site to mark the incident, support the victim's family and to restate the community demand to stop the violence.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

S.O.S. Back to School Giveaway!

Here is a sample of the school supply packets assembled by the amazing Yo. S.O.S. staff:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lead By Example, Peace By Example

This past Saturday, S.O.S. Crown Heights held its fourth annual Lead By Example tournament. Two hundred young people gathered together peaceably in a city park playground to play ball, and enjoy each other's company, music, and food. 

Check out more photos on our Facebook page. Photo credit: Joe Quint

(If anyone objects to having their image featured on our site, please email us at chcmcblog@gmail.com and we will take it down promptly. Thank you.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nelson Mandela Celebration at Boys and Girls High School

On Friday July 18, S.O.S. took part in a celebration of the 96th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth and his historic visit to Boys & Girls High School in 1990. Principal Bernard Gassaway, City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Mayor David Dinkins, Reverend Herbert Daughtry and a delegation from the South African ANC Party took part in the ceremony of remembrance, renaming the Boys & Girls High School athletic field Nelson Mandela Field. The day included a park and campus cleanup by students, performance by the Black and Gold Marching Band and a 67minute walk around the field commemorating the 67 years of South African Apartheid.