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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BCS Hosts Community Advisory Board Meeting

Yesterday evening, Bronx Community Solutions hosted our first Community Advisory Board meeting of the year. We had about ten participants representing the Bronx Borough President's office, NYPD Community Affairs Unit, as well as community organizations and local service providers. T.K. Singleton, Coordinator of Community Operations, and I spoke to the group to provide them with updates about Bronx Community Solutions and to elicit their feedback.

We talked about the recent changes with our Adolescent Diversion Program, including the recent addition of a dedicated court part in the Bronx that will allow the 16-17-year-old population to be seen by one judge, in one part. We hope this will help to streamline the process of handling these cases and identifying them to BCS in time to conduct assessments and formulate treatment recommendations.

T.K. introduced the group to the idea of place-based community service. Bronx Community Solutions is embarking on a project to conduct targeted community events and clean-up projects in areas of the Bronx that have been identified as hotspots of crime and quality-of-life offenses. To identify these areas, we will need the help of both the police precincts, to collect crime data based on neighborhood, and local community groups and agencies. T.K. has been working with the NYPD to collect the data, and the group was asked to participate by providing us with ideas and suggestions for areas that may be in need of attention. We look forward to examining their responses and beginning the planning process!

Our next Community Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for early April, the date will be set soon. We hope to see you there.

Friday, January 18, 2013

In Time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, BCS Gets a New Look!

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.                                                                         
Last October, Bronx Community Solutions was happy to move into new space in the criminal courthouse!  The space allows us to finally have all of our operations together in one room -the waiting area, intake and scheduling, the clinic, and our conference room. We've been setting up over the past couple of months and have now completed the last exciting stage: a mural of quotes that encircles the large room. The mural was completed by the fantastic artists at Tats Cru, who generously donated half of the project cost back to us.

As we approach Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are reminded of the power that words can have. Words can inspire, impress, and show positive examples to our clients, and they can remind our staff of what we at Bronx Community Solutions are working toward every day. We are excited to have this visual representation of the key components of our work here decorating the space in which we serve our clients.

You can view the pictures of the mural in our new space below.

The BCS office BEFORE

Tats Cru artists putting up some of the quotes
Putting up quotes below the window
A close-up of one of the quotes
BCS Project Director Maria Almonte and Tats Cru in front of the finished product

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Success Story - Kim

The following is a recent success story about a STARS client at Bronx Community Solutions.

Kim* is 33 years old.  She has been on her own since the age of 12 and is a survivor of childhood abuse. Kim is now in the process of writing another chapter of her story, one that includes independence, growth and success.  

In having to support herself Kim learned how to “dance”; she danced at parties and in clubs.  She was living from day to day, maintaining, trying to survive, paying bills and always wishing for something better. Eventually she found a clerical job to assist in making ends meet.

Last year Kim lost her job, lost her apartment and could not afford school. She currently has an associate’s degree and only needs 33 additional credits to obtain her bachelor’s degree. She went back to dancing for a short period and was arrested during a police sting. She was mandated to complete two social service sessions with a case manager as part of our alternative to prostitution program. Her court mandate is now complete and we are working on her goals, one at a time. 

Kim has been trying to find a job but has not come up with any leads. Her case manager passed along a few job referrals and she quickly connected with one of the programs. Kim attended the HOPE Program's initial testing session and she will begin a 4-month vocational training on January 21st. Additionally, Kim will attend a second employment training at another organization that is a partner of Bronx Community Solutions, Employment Works. She continues to work on becoming financially independent and securing a place to live. Once she secures employment, Kim intends to pursue her bachelor’s degree.

As part of her growth and healthy choices, during our sessions Kim recognized several domestic violence dynamics in her current relationship. We discussed the topics of power and control in depth. We examined domestic violence materials that identify the cycle and tactics within an abusive relationship. At one point Kim exclaimed, “I recognize everything on this power and control wheel, this is exactly my relationship.” In achieving this awareness, Kim. made an important break-through. She decided this was not a healthy relationship, and that she deserves better. 

Kim is on the road to empowerment; she continues to get stronger with every step.
- Melissa Novock
 Bronx Community Solutions STARS Case Manager

 *name has been changed

Friday, January 04, 2013

MCC Celebrates the Holidays by Helping Children and their Fathers

"Last week, participants and alumni of the Dads United for Parenting and Times Square Ink programs came together to celebrate the holidays with their families and program staff.

Holiday music filled the air and smiling faces were seen all around as families dined on food donated by program partner Whole Foods. After the meal, the gifts were distributed and the fun truly began! Young faces lit up as new toys were unwrapped and the adults were treated to the priceless gift of joyful children. As one of the fathers said during the event: "It's about the children. Believe it or not this program opens people's eyes."

Dads United for Parenting and Times Square Ink would like to thank Whole Foods, Most Valuable Kids, Mary Arnold Toys, Toys for Tots and the rest of the staff at the Midtown Community Court for all of the help in making the event such a success!"

- Bo Twiggs, LMSW
Dads United for Parenting Coordinator

For more information about Dads United for Parenting, click here: Dads United for Parenting
For more information about Times Square Ink, click here: Times Square Ink