BROOKLYN — They’re neighbors, but they’re known to be divided.
Tenants of the Brownsville Houses and Van Dyke Houses live right across the street from one another and the events on Mother Gaston Boulevard on Friday worked to unite them.
To promote a safe summer from gun violence and COVID-19, the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety had what it calls a community healing experience.
A collaboration of city agencies and local organizations brought resources literally to the streets of a normally under-resourced community and the location of the event was intentional according to Renita Francois, the executive director at MAP.
“We’re doing this symbolically in the middle of Brownsville and Van Dyke Houses and bringing both of those teams of residents together to show that yes, there is unity in this community,” Francois said. “It’s not just this narrative of one against another.”
In the midst of a violent summer, organizers are focusing on communities coming together to promote safety and be at the center of violence prevention especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Resources from a wide range of different initiatives that focus on healing are right outside of the doors of residents to take advantage of and Michael Roopchandsingh is grateful.
“I think it’s great to have resources within walking distance,” Roopchandsingh said. “Thank you for the people that’s organizing these things so people like myself that’s just walking… we could walk through.”
From physical activities to being able to get the vaccine right there, the accessibility is vital, especially for Diamond Kelley, another resident.
“I feel like it was quicker, easier, faster access for me especially because I work and I go to school, so I don’t really have a lot of free time,” Kelley said.
Shola Gbemi, program manager at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, wants the residents to be aware that there people out there willing to help.
“I think it’s important for folks to know that they are seen, they are heard, and that there are boots on the ground committed to their needs,” Gbemi said.