December 12, 2010
 
Dear Friends of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center,

Best wishes for the holidays and a happy, healthy New Year!
 
I’m delighted to share with you an article that came out in this past weekend’s New York Times about our work and some of our exciting accomplishments of 2010 and a few of our plans for 2011.  

We’ve had an incredible year.  Two years ago, we were concerned about how to keep the storefront doors open; this year we were awarded a second federal grant that will expand the depth and breadth of our work. Without your support and partnerships, we would not have been able to weather the economic downturn. 
 
This year we implemented S.O.S. Crown Heights, an innovative anti-violence program that uses a public health model to prevent gun violence.  We’ve hired 8 new members to our staff, all dedicated to working to intervene and interrupt gun violence before it happens. We work with those people in the community who are the highest risk and use proven, effective practices to help them change their behavior. I urge you to learn more about this program through our new blog: soscrownheights.blogspot.com.
 
We also collaborated with the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council on a leadership and entrepreneurship program for young women from Crown Heights. The result of this project was a beautiful cookbook, which can be viewed through blurb.com.
 
Other major successes include:

  • Helping over 800 walk-in clients with job searches, resume assistance, housing help and links to services within the community.
  • Serving over 200 people with immigration assistance, 27 of whom became citizens with our direct assistance. 
  • Organizing 15 community events serving 2,000 residents designed to build community cohesion, foster positive relationships between neighbors and have educational fun. 
  • Building positive mentoring relationships with 56 people who are considered to be at high risk of being involved in a gun violence incident.
  • Encouraged over 300 young people to stay in school and stay focused on their personal goals through our truancy, youth court, and pregnancy prevention programs.
 
The success of our programs has been noticed by our peers and professional organizations, leading to the Social Worker Image award from the National Association of Social Workers, the Brooklyn Change Makers award from Bailey's Cafe and a nomination for the Brooklyn Do-Gooder award.  We regularly get visits and phone calls of thanks from clients. A citizenship client, Bonnie Mitchell, recently called our office and said, “I am calling to thank all of the people who helped when I was filing my citizenship. You guys went out of your way to make me feel comfortable. I was nervous because I had gone to someone else before and they were not patient, but everybody at your office was so sweet. I left your office feeling good. Not too long after, I got an interview letter from immigration. Then I took my test and passed and now I am waiting for my swearing in date. Bless all of the people in your office."   
 
We’re looking ahead to another great and productive year at the Mediation Center.  In 2011 we will be launching a new youth program, Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, a program that will provide youth development activities, leadership training, and community organizing skills so that young people can engage in a public education campaign designed by them that will work towards stopping the spread of the culture of violence.  Our staff size has swelled from four to twenty and we are looking for a new location that will accommodate all of us.
 
We encourage you to become involved with our work in any way you can.  Subscribe to our blog, become our friend on Facebook, refer people to our programs, or join our pool of volunteers.  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. Or you can use Paypal; a link can be found in the right hand column of the Mediation Center’s blog at crownheightsmediationcenter.blogspot.com or at soscrownheights.blogspot.com on the left side of the blog.
 
We’re all very grateful to you for your support, which enables us to do such good work every day – thank you. Again, from all of us at the Mediation Center, have a joyous and peaceful holiday season and best wishes for a wonderful 2011.
 
Warmly,
 
Amy Ellenbogen
Project Director
Crown Heights Community Mediation Center














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