In the last two weeks of October, 2018, Neighbors in Action (formerly known as the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center) officially celebrated its new name and 20th Anniversary with two ceremonial events.
On October 24th, family, friends, and supporters of Neighbors in Action gathered in front of the 256 Kingston Avenue office for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Emceed by Youth Programs participant, Shavonne “Enya” Jackson, the event kicked off with a performance from FLEX Program. Attendees heard remarks from staff and community members who have been deeply impacted by Neighbors in Action. The short speeches demonstrated the diversity and dynamism of the work that Neighbors in Action does– from creating much-needed healing and trauma supports for young men in the neighborhood, to successfully resolving a two-year long housing court battle for a resident in need of help.
“I’m the oldest one here,” shared longtime Crown Heights community member, Julia Boyd. “I was trying to throw Amy and the whole group out of here because I was so sick of everyone coming to this neighborhood and promising they’re going to do something and doing nothing. But look what they did! Look what happened. Look at all of this. What can I say? When you’re old, you don’t know it all. It takes all of us to create something this lovely and I’m so proud of all of y’all.”
In a nod to the history of the Mediation Center and those who contributed to its early development, Project Director Amy Ellenbogen and Deputy Director Brian Cunningham recognized two community leaders, Richard Green and Rabbi Eli Cohen, for their unwavering support and inspiration over the years.
Gathering behind a length of white ribbon, staff and community members looked on as Lavon “LJ” Walker Jr. cut the ribbon and ushered in a new era for the organization. LJ’s father was Lavon “Boo” Walker, a beloved founding member of S.O.S. Crown Heights. Lavon’s memory and wishes for a brighter future were uplifted by the presence of LJ, his little brother, and their mother, Marilyn. “It’s a representation of my father,” said LJ, “he would say he’s very proud of me.”
News coverage and pictures from the ribbon-cutting ceremony are below.
On October 31st, the New York City Council paused in its deliberations to recognize Neighbors in Action for 20 years of ground-breaking work. Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo presented a proclamation from the New York City government to the entire NIA staff.
“I am thrilled to be able to honor Crown Heights Community Mediation Center for their twenty years of service to our community,” said Cumbo. “They are a pioneer in their field, as the first program in the state to implement the Cure Violence model of gun violence prevention with the launch of Save Our Streets (S.O.S) in 2009. They will now be known as Neighbors In Action and I am looking forward to twenty more years of building safer communities!”
Neighbors in Action would like to sincerely thank Council Majority Leader Cumbo and her staff, Council Member Jumaane Williams, the Brooklyn Delegation, and the entire City Council for bestowing this honor upon us. Many thanks to the supporters, past staff members, and volunteers who stood with Neighbors in Action to receive the proclamation.
Thank you to the Center for Court Innovation for endeavoring to start this project twenty years ago while the organization was only a few years old. Here’s to twenty more years!
News coverage of Neighbors in Action name change and 20th Anniversary:
- “Crown Heights Mediation Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary with New Name,” The BK Reader.
- “Community Group Reaches Milestone,” The Daily Challenger.
- “Anti-violence Crown Heights Group Celebrates 20 Years, Continues to Make Impact on the Community,” Brooklyn Eagle.
- “Cumbo Lauds Crown Heights Org In Helping Stem Racial & Religious Violence,” Kings County Politics.
Many, many thanks to our photographers, Zachary Schulman and Samiha Meah, and videographer, Tyquane Bates. Please do not use these photos without crediting them.