Bronx Community Solutions

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Community Partner Spotlight: Sidney Flores

Last week Moises and I met with Sidney Flores, a community activist in the Bronx with whom we work on numerous community service projects. Mr. Flores was kind enough to let us interview him about his work with Bronx Community Solutions, and post it here.  We are grateful to have partners like him!

Sidney Flores, Community Activist

I work at Bronx Lebanon hospital doing painting and other work, but my real title is Community Activist. I volunteer with quality of life, focusing on the areas covered by community boards 4 and 5, Yankee Stadium to Fordham Road. I drive around in my own vehicle, take notice quality of life issues and report them to 311 and the community boards. I notice instances of illegal dumping and bring them to the attention of sanitation. I also put up signs telling people that the area is being watched, and that illegal dumping or tagging is a crime. I think it’s really helped; some of those areas look a lot better.
I came to know Bronx Community Solutions through Moises, who was introduced to me through someone at the local precinct. He and I have a great relationship. I see places that are in need of being cleaned up and I call Moises. He then brings the crew and helps with graffiti and picking up garbage in the areas that I’ve identified. I’ll also show up and help out, I give the crew bottles of water and supplies when I’m able. 
I drive around as a lookout and check out the areas that we’ve painted or cleaned, to see how they’re doing. A lot of the areas look so much better. If they’ve gotten messed up again, I call Bronx Community Solutions and let them know. I’m their eyes out in the community!  Bronx Community Solutions always responds, and they’re able to get things done faster than anyone else out there.
I’m very happy Bronx Community Solutions is here. They make a big difference in the community. I notice the graffiti situation is much better. When I drive around and do the lookout after we’ve painted, I see that a lot of the areas we’ve worked on are still looking clean and that makes me happy.
I live near a tunnel on Selwyn Ave, and it was just a mess. There were rats and garbage everywhere, and prostitution and drug activity were constant problems. Bronx Community Solutions brought their crew along with some help from the local precinct, they put up a mural in the playground and cleaned the whole place up. Now, the area is just transformed. No one was representing the area the way it should have been, I’m so glad you guys came along.
I couldn’t do it without Bronx Community Solutions. I feel that if we all just got off our butts and did more work out there in the community, our neighborhoods could actually be beautiful.  You guys are making it happen, and I’m so glad you’re helping to make changes in my community.
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The New York Times ran a great article about Sidney Flores last year, check it out here: Bronx Neighborhood Has Unofficial Mayor

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BCS Staff Conduct Prostitution Outreach

On August 24th, TK, Robin and I conducted a prostitution outreach shift in conjunction with the 47th precinct.  Accompanied by a helpful police lieutenant from the precinct, we were driven around in the middle of the night to areas known to be hotspots of prostitution activity, introducing ourselves to individuals engaged in prostitution and attempting to connect with them in a non-punitive context.  The shift was a success as we connected with seven individuals. 

One of our contacts is an existing client of Bronx Community Solutions.  She felt comforted in seeing a familiar face and she said it was "a sign" that we came across her that night.  That's one of the great things about outreach, we are able to maintain a place, a presence within the community.  Bronx Community Solutions is a known organization, and this consistency stands as a strong platform for dialogue and sharing of helpful information. 

When we connected with one particular woman, let's call her "Mary," we became in a sense connected to multiple individuals.  In meeting Mary we were able to share information about BCS, our services, programs, harm reduction techniques, and our contact information; in turn she offered to share all of this newly acquired knowledge with other women who are working. At the time we were out, those "other" women not there; and she detailed their involvement with pimps in that neighborhood.  Mary will pass along the newly learned BCS information to those women who we couldn't reach in person that night, and hopefully BCS can stand as a life-line for girls and women in immediate need.

Two of the women reached out to me in the days following our outreach, including the BCS client mentioned above.  Both are hoping to enter a drug treatment program in the near future. 

- Melissa Novock, BCS Case Manager

BCS Crew Helps Out at Recycling Event

Yesterday, Bronx Community Solutions partnered with our sister project the Midtown Community Court to assist Grow NYC for a Komen Race to support Cancer survivors. This event was held at Central Park. BCS and MCC were briefly trained on how to recycle so we could encourage others to do by showing them how to do it. A BCS community service crew was on hand to help run the training, teaching people how to recycle in New York City and welcoming them to the event.  
We were all very touched that so many people from different boroughs were there to support this cause. Matthew U. and myself want to thank supervisor Fernan Polanco and Steve Joyner from MCC. We did great work together.  

- Moises Reyes, BCS Crew Supervisor