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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New BCS Group - Know Your Rights

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Today, we began a new pilot group for BCS participants called "Know Your Rights," run by BCS partner organization MFY Legal Services. MFY Legal Services is an organization that provides free legal assistance to vulnerable and underserved populations on a wide range of civil legal issues. Within that program, the MFY Re-entry Project provides free legal advice, counsel, and/or representation to people with criminal records who want to re-enter the workforce and seek security or other occupational licenses. Last July, MFY conducted a training in July on criminal records and employment for Bronx Community Solutions staff.

The "Know Your Rights" group held at BCS today taught participants about various legal issues they may be facing after receiving a criminal conviction with regards to getting a job, keeping a job, or attaining a particular professional designation. The first session was a success, and the group was very engaged and interested in hearing what the facilitator had to say. Seven participants stayed behind to seek voluntary, individual consultation with the facilitator.

Stay tuned for more about this in December when the second group is taking place!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BCS Helps Out with Special Graffiti Cleanup in the 44th Precinct

BCS clients, crew supervisor and officers worked together on a special clean-up project in the 44th Precinct
BCS has worked with the Community Affairs Unit of the 44th precinct removing graffiti for over seven years. We have a day designated for graffiti removal which is every Thursday. Community Service Coordinator Moises Reyes always spread days of the month so we can work with most of the precincts from the Bronx so that all have a chance to remove graffiti with us.
Clients worked alongside officers to cleanup a local wall that had been covered with graffiti
On September 22,  we received a call from Officer Tejada of the 44th precinct Community Affairs Unit to see if we can help them remove graffiti on Wednesday 24. At first I had to tell them no, because graffiti removal is on Thursdays, not Wednesdays, and we wouldn't have enough participants but to my surprise I was told that it a special initiative from the Department and so officers will be helping with the removal of graffiti. In other words, they will be helping, working alongside with BCS clients and myself.

It was a good experience to see the two clients from BCS and the officers working together removing graffiti. Everyone got along - they were talking and laughing, and at the end of the day they all said thank you one another. One local resident walking by also said thank you to the group.
- Ramon Semorile, BCS Community Service Crew Supervisor
The wall before...
...And after!

Monday, October 06, 2014

BCS Hosts Community Advisory Board Meeting

               On Wednesday, September 17th, the Bronx Community Solutions’ Community Advisory Board met in the Bronx Criminal Courthouse. Present were representatives from the offices of the Bronx Borough President, Bronx District Attorney (Human Trafficking Division), Legal Aid Society, the Bronx Defenders, and The New York Police Department’s Bureau of Community Affairs. Also present was Veterans Affairs along with other Bronx Community Solutions partners Vertex and Bronx Life Recovery Center. The focus of this CAB meeting was to share with our partners the work that BCS has done in 2013.

            In 2013, almost 9,000 clients were referred to BCS with alternative sentencing mandates. Over 80% actually reported for intake which is a 78% increase from 2012. And 74% actually completed their court ordered mandates through BCS. BCS Adolescent Diversion Project (ADP) and our Mental Health Initiative had a 75% increase. Our AP8 (Human Trafficking Intervention Court) division also had a completion rate of 70%. BCS’s community service program saved the city over $478,000 and over 66,000 hours of work toward revitalization of neighborhoods across the Bronx.

            The star of the CAB meeting was Manual Larino and our DWI/DUI department, who in 2013 connected clients with providers such as Vertex and BLRC. Over 900 clients were referred for assessments and 85% of the clients successfully completed their mandated treatment. Kudos to Manuel and the DWI department! The BCS Community Advisory board will meet once again in six months and BCS looks forward to continuing to connecting with the Bronx community in this forum.
- Carmen Alcantara, Bronx Community Solutions Intern