Monday, September 19, 2011

Brownsville Community Dialogue

On June 23rd at the Stone Avenue Library in Brownsville, Juvenile Justice Corps Members joined community members and staff from the Center for Court Innovation for a presentation of the Brownsville "Op Data" Community Survey results and to participate in a dialogue. Corps Members had conducted the survey of over 800 residents and merchants in Brownsville back in October and were eager to hear the findings and begin working toward positive solutions.  

Community members voiced their reaction and analysis of the survey findings and the light they shed on larger issues in Brownsville. Many topics were brought up, including the concern from community members about "outsiders"  coming in to try to help but not doing much, the importance of focusing on schools, and frustration about gang violence and lack of job opportunities. One of the highlights of the evening was hearing from a group of young teens who shared their personal experiences about trying to keep from getting caught up in the violence in the community, especially in the summertime. Since October, Corps Members have continued to serve in Brownsville, helping to launch a Youth Court (a restorative justice model in which teens influence the behavior of other teens through positive peer pressure) and engage community members in the planning of a community justice center for the neighborhood.  
Corps Members and others learn the results of the survey that asked more than 800 Brownsville residents and merchants about their perceptions of safety, youth crime and opportunities in their community.

Corps Members Support Kids in OCFS Facilities to "Be the Change" in their Community

Today the Red Hook Community Justice Center hosted an event to celebrate a unique partnership between the New York Juvenile Justice Corps, New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and generationOn to pilot a service-learning initiative for youth juvenile facilities. OCFS Commissioner, Gladys Carrion, addressed the audience and emphasized the value of partnerships and positive programming like this that keep their youth closer to home and in their communities.
This new initiative places Juvenile Justice Corps Members throughout OCFS facilities in Brooklyn and the Bronx. These highly-trained members facilitate and bring to life a service-learning curriculum designed by generationOn, “Be the Change New York.” The curriculum is based on a restorative justice model and is designed to re-engage youth through hands-on service projects and leadership opportunities.  The Corps Members serve as both instructors and role models to young people in OCFS facilities.  Over the course of a year, more than 100 young people in OCFS facilities have learned valuable life skills, built positive relationships, performed community service, and given back to their local communities.
A packed audience with representatives from the New York City Department of Probation, OCFS, the New York State Unified Court System, the Legal Aid Society, and the New York City Law Department saw an entertaining and educational presentation by Corps Members about the new Service Learning initiative. New York State Senator, Velmanette Montgomery, and a representative from City Councilmember’s Sara Gonzelez’ office were also on hand to celebrate and address the group and emphasize the need to give New York’s children more opportunities to grow up in a safe community. This initiative has been so successful that it will be expanded over the next year with the help of three new Corps Members.
Corps Members Raju Chowdhury and Alicia Grant alongside OCFS Commisioner Gladys Carrion, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Deputy Director and Project Director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center Jessica Colon and Julian Adler.

Red Hook Remembers 9-11

On Monday, September 12th the New York Juvenile Justice Corps hosted a service event to bring the Red Hook community together in honor of September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance. Many members of the Red Hook community were directly affected by the attacks and many more rose in service in the days after to help with recovery efforts. The day was a chance to stop and remember those who were lost, and honor their memory through service. Red Hook is directly across the East River from Ground Zero, and people who were in Red Hook at the time still remember watching in horror as the towers fell 10 years ago. Volunteers and emergency officials from the neighborhood were among the first to arrive, including Red Hook's Ladder 101, known today as "Seven in Heaven" because all seven firemen who responded to the call were lost. In the weeks after the attacks, local residents, Court Officers, and AmeriCorps members organized supply collections for first responders and helped with the cleanup effort at Ground Zero.

Corps Members teamed up with high school members of the Red Hook Youth Court, staff at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, and volunteers from the community to do a service project with Friends of Firefighters.  Friends of Firefighters is a local non-profit which was formed in the days after 9-11 by a small group of volunteers who went from firehouse to firehouse to meet the urgent needs of firemen affected by the attacks. Today, Friends of Firefighters is a one of a kind organization dedicated to health and well-being of New York City firefighters, 9-11 first responders and their families. Corps Members volunteered alongside former firefighters, cleaning, creating outreach packets, and helping Friends of Firefighters renovate their space. Corps Members and other volunteers also brought in homemade baked goods to give to Red Hook’s Court Officers, Officers of the 76th Precinct, and Firefighters from Engine 202 Ladder 101 in recognition of their bravery, sacrifice and daily service to the Red Hook community.

Corps Members with Nancy Carbone, Founder and Executive Director of Friends of Firefighters

Corps Members at Engine 202 Ladder 101 delivering homebaked goods as a small gesture of appreciation