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.
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.