Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Message from the Director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center


Dear Friends of the Crown Heights Mediation Center,

Happy Holidays! 

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement over this year, and share with you some of our accomplishments from 2009, as well as our direction for 2010.

It’s been an incredible year.  Last year, we were concerned about how to keep the storefront doors open; this year we were awarded two new grants that will allow us to more than double the size of our staff and greatly expand the depth and breadth of our work.  Again, thank you for your contributions.  Without you, we would not have been able to weather the economic downturn. 

We’ve been planning the implementation of a new anti-violence program designed to prevent gun violence in Crown Heights. A Department of Justice study demonstrated that the program we will establish has yielded a 40-70% decrease in shootings in the neighborhoods where it is implemented.  This program will target individuals who are most likely to be involved in gun violence, and help them – with proven, effective practices -  to change their behavior. In the next few months, I’ll be updating you more about this exciting and innovative program.

Also in early January, a group of 16 young women from diverse backgrounds - but all from Crown Heights – will launch a media company collaboratively. These young women will learn skills in graphic design, photography, marketing, networking, and general entrepreneurship.  One of their first products will be a community cookbook that celebrates the different foods and cultures of Crown Heights.

Over the course of 2009, we helped over 1,200 community members at our storefront office with immigration issues, housing, legal advocacy, family services, education, employment, medical services, and substance abuse treatment.  We conducted 54 community facilitations, bringing people from diverse perspectives together to work on challenges such as gun violence and racial healing.  We held more than a dozen community trainings on conflict resolution and mediation reaching over 500 people.  Through our truancy, youth court, and pregnancy prevention programs, we helped 175 young people to stay in school and stay focused on their personal goals. All these activities share one common purpose – a stronger and more unified Crown Heights.  It's hard to find another small program making such a big impact.

The most important and rewarding aspect of what we do is, and always has been, the direct service we offer to the community at large. I wanted to share with you just one example of the kind of unique work we do, and the very real ways in which your support directly benefits community members in need.  This is a note we recently received from a client:


Dear CHCMC,

Thank you for everything. By the time I came to your door, I was overwhelmed and underwater. You gave me a lifeline. For years I had worked as a home health aid but my agency was unable to give me a patient for over two months.  I exhausted my savings. My lights were turned off, my refrigerator was empty and I had no income. I also have children to support.  I poured all this out at CHCMC.  The worker listened patiently and worked with me to develop a plan.  She helped me secure a payment arrangement with Con Ed, obtain emergency food stamps and, best of all, told me how to get unemployment benefits for which I had thought I was not eligible. I thank CHCMC not only for helping me through this crisis, but also motivating me to keep everything going until I get back to work.  Thanks so much.  –Rose M. 


We’re looking ahead to another great and productive year at the Mediation Center, and very much hope that we’ll continue to have your support.  We’re all very grateful to you for supporting our work, and enabling us to do such good work everyday – so thank you.

If you can make a financial contribution, checks can be made out to our parent organization, the Fund for the City of New York and mailed to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center at 256 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213.  You can also donate online through paypal,  clicking the donate button in the right hand column of our blog.

Best wishes for the holidays and a happy, healthy New Year, and, again thank you. 


Amy

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