Bronx Community Solutions

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Facilitating Client Success through Outreach

" A few outreach stories..."
By Melissa Novock, STARS Case Manager

Bronx Community Solutions has many roles in working with clients and one of the roles includes doing "outreach" work. Specifically, BCS conducts outreach which consists of working with individuals who are involved in prostitution. This blog is a report on my most recent outreach shift.

On Thursday, 7/22/10 night, into Friday, 7/23/10 morning, I went on an outreach shift, along, with a fellow BCS employee, and two officers from the 41st precinct. We met a total of four women that evening and our shift was a great example of the power of human connection. One common theme revealed itself that night, the idea that, even in the darkest places, we can see light. Three out of the four women have been working on the track for sometime, and not only did they recognize BCS but they decided to engage and reconnect with BCS. The interesting thing is that they actually had previous contact with BCS, via their court mandates and the following week after our outreach shift, a few of our clients voluntarily came into the BCS clinic.

Let me share just a part of their stories. One of our clients, (let's refer to her as "Diana") had a few prior cases. Through a brief interaction during outreach, one in which she felt we were there for her and available to "meet her where she was at", Diana stated "I will be in to see you." I left Diana with these words, "You can come back to BCS with an appointment or without an appointment, we are here to help." Diana definitely is a woman of her word. She VOLUNTARILY, on her own volition, came to the clinic Monday morning to follow up and we had a chance to meet. She requested court advocacy, as well as some basic support. We quickly established a rapport of respect that honored her strength and determination. She begins a new job this week and is currently in an outpatient program. And we agreed, everything begins with a single step. I am looking forward to keeping an eye on her case along with her progress. We are wishing her well on the start of her next chapter.

Another client, (let's call her "Lisa"), not only requested court advocacy, but she also appeared in our clinic the following week. Through our outreach shift we found out her next court date and a Resource Coordinator appeared in court as part of our court advocacy. We were able to advocate on behalf of Lisa and her warrant was stayed. And yes, BCS will be in court with Lisa on her next court date. Two days later, Lisa appeared in our clinic. She decided she needed to talk to someone and she remembered that we were there to help. We had an inspiring session and she is intent on completing her court mandate and building her independence which includes a safe, violent free future.

And finally, a former BCS client, (let's call her "Beth") recently completed a BCS mandate and she has a goal of getting into a substance abuse treatment program. On Thursday night she mentioned she would like to follow up and get into a program. She was very surprised to see us on the streets, and in being able to talk with us, she felt very supported. I stated "our doors are always open, and when you are ready, come in and let's get to work."

It is very telling that three out of four clients have had a previous relationship with BCS, but even more powerful, is the fact that they are choosing to voluntarily work with us. Outreach is crucial, because we are able to make a "connection", as brief as it may be. In other cases we are able to strengthen an already existing relationship. The result: meeting women where they are at and being able to meet their needs at that given time, an example of success, or should I say, three poignant examples of success.

Until next shift,


Monday, July 26, 2010

Graffiti Artists Coming Together to Improve the Community

Bronx Community Solutions (BCS) will be parterning with NYPD’s 41st Precinct in a new and exciting community event, a mural painting community service project called “A.C.T”, Artists Coming Together. This project will bring graffiti writers, including TATS CRU “the mural kings’, BT Crew and DYM Crew, together to create beautiful murals promoting community empowerment in an area that has been plagued by graffiti and other crimes.

Project A.C.T. is a new component of our Graffiti Removal Initiative. Many of our communities have been saturated with graffiti. In response, BCS community service crews have painted over many sites. These sites are then maintained by community residents and business owners. To advance our Graffiti Removal Initiative, we intend to create four (4) murals that promote cultural and community unity in the Hunts Point neighborhood. In partnership with community members, we will maintain the murals after they have been painted. This initiative will provide a unique opportunity to establish a permanent symbol of the Hunts Point community’s commitment to improvement and a better quality of life for all residents, businesses and visitors.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New York Times Article Addresses Hiring Practices for Those with Criminal Convictions

An opinion piece published in the New York Times yesterday addresses hiring practices that affect those who have criminal convictions. Often those who have convictions, even in their distant past, are barred from employment. This practice maintains an economic inequity that can obstruct a person from re-building their life. Click the title above to read the full article

Hiring and Fairness

Published: July 20, 2010
Confining people with criminal convictions to the very margins of society by denying them employment is unfair and self-defeating. Sensible new laws recognize that.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Partnership Addresses the need for Domestic Violence Services in the Bronx

The New York Post recently reported on a new study which shows that Bronx residents are more likely to be the victims of dommestic violence than those in other boroughs.

City officials counted 15,620 domestic-abuse reports in The Bronx in 2009 -- a rate of 1,117 reports per 100,000 residents, nearly twice the rate in Manhattan, according to numbers gathered by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Manhattan had the lowest rate, with 585 battered victim reports per 100,000 residents last year. Brooklyn had 799, Staten Island 629 and Queens 605.

Bronx Community Solutions has partnered with Sanctuaries for Families to screen women arrested for prositution-related offenses for domestic violence. Through this partnership, we have an Advocate Counselor who provides clinical services. In addition to serving this often invisible population, this partnership has increased our ability to serve and refer any client who is the victim of domestic violence.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Juvenile Service Learning Program Begins

The summer cycle for the Juvenile Service Learning Program JSLP (formerly known as JAC: Juvenile Accountability Court) began yesterday, and  runs until July 16, 2010

The Juvenile Service Learning Program is a Family Court/Alternative To Placement program for youth on probation who are mandated to complete 60 hours of community service. The purpose of this program is to incorporate service learning into traditional community service, encouraging youth to meaningfully reflect on their experience. In addition to completing community service, the participants will also visit the Museum of Modern Art and participate in an educational workshop about the criminal justice system.

Agenda: 2010 Summer Cycle
Day 1: World Vision- The participants will begin the cycle working in World Vision. The task for this day is to organize newly received inventory as well package items that will be distributed to other community organizations.
Day 2: Sustainable South Bronx- On this day the participants will be perform hands-on field work that includes planting trees, flowers, maintenance work and watering plants.
Day 3: Step Streets: Participants will be working on beautifying some of the Bronx’s well known step-streets by picking up garbage and removing graffiti.
Day 4: MOMA: The participants will be going on a mentally stimulating journey at the Museum of Modern Art.

Day 5: World Vision: The participants will be organizing inventory and preparing care packages for distribution in community programs.
Day 6: Graffiti Removal: The participant will be removing graffiti from an area designated by the community.

Day 7: Educational Workshop: This workshop will help probationers understand the arrest process in the juvenile justice system. The facilitator will be utilizing a comic made by teenagers in the Youth Justice Board as a guide to run this workshop.

By: Saudi Encarnacion, Clinical Coordinator

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Center for Court Innovation Youth Justice Board has recently released a comic book entitled "I Got Arrested! Now What?" . The comic follows a young person arrested for delinquency as his case makes its way through the challenging shoals of the juvenile justice system. The Board wrote the comic to provide young people and their families with a plain language, easy-to-understand guide that hopefully demystifies the process and offers useful tips to achieving better case - and life - outcomes. The comic was a product of a collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy and the Department of Probation. It is, in a word, terrific. In the near future, the Department of Probation will begin distributing the pamphlet to all respondents coming through intake following a delinquency arrest.