Youth and Clergy Stand Against Gun Violence, January 3rd

Devastatingly, in the late evening of New Year’s Day, two 17-year-olds were shot and severely wounded while sitting in their car on the corner of Troy Avenue and Park Place. Two days later, S.O.S. stood on that same corner alongside local youth and members of the clergy to show the community that shootings will not go unnoticed or be tolerated. S.O.S. Clergy Action Network (C.A.N.) leader Reverend Kevin Jones, joined by Bishop Billips and Reverend Mathew Burke, appealed for peace through the S.O.S. bullhorn. Reverend Jones recalled growing up in the neighborhood, and, looking at a dilapidated building, noted how it had changed. “This was my block. I used to shop at that supermarket,” Jones said. “I’m still here… and now together we have to work together to stop the gun violence, and make our community whole again.” 

The crowd standing against gun violence that night had a youthful energy, as it was filled with Youth Organizers, local high school students involved in our  program to generate youth leadership in the struggle against gun violence. Marlon Peterson, deputy director at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, gathered the youth organizers together and told them that, because in this instance of gun violence both the shooters and victims were young people, the neighborhood might come to fear and shun people of their age. “Your presence here tonight shows the community that there is another way, there is another path for young people here. Youth don’t have to be the face of violence. You’re showing them tonight that youth can be the face of peace.” 

S.O.S. Holiday Party and Toy Giveaway

S.O.S. spread the holiday spirit in Crown Heights on Friday, December 21st, when the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center (CHCMC) opened its doors to children and families from the community for a holiday party and toy giveaway. Children poured into the Center wearing bright holiday smiles and transformed the space into a festive party full of music, food and laughter. CHCMC and S.O.S. staff quickly adopted the mood, leading the children in interactive games, carol singing and learning activities about how to make the neighborhood a safe and friendly place. At the end of the party the children lined up excitedly to collect gift bags that the S.O.S. team was distributing. The children were delighted with their gifts, leaving the Mediation Center with hands full of new toys and hearts full of Christmas cheer. We thank the shoppers and merchants of Park Slope and the Park Slope Civic Council who generously donated the toys and gifts that made this event possible.