Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 Men of Color Summit

In his letter to Summit attendees, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka cited recent tragedies in Ferguson Missouri; Staten Island, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; and North Charleston, South Carolina and stated they have, “tested the resolve of our country and the average citizen’s faith in our law enforcement officers and the judicial system.”  “By collaborating with our community and education partners,” the Mayor continued, “we are taking proactive measures by having productive and educational workshops at this summit.”  Newark Community Solutions was proud to be part of this forward thinking approach to positive change.

Newark United Against Violence Program Coordinator, Cassandra Dock, as well as the Midtown Community Court Deputy Director, Jeff Hobbs, participated on a panel along with the Newark Office of Reentry Manager, Fred Murphy; Guazabara Insights CEO, Dennis Febo; and Hudson Partnership CMO Director, Stephen Campos.  The panel, moderated by the Director of the Office of Community Justice for the State of New Jersey, Wanda Moore, explored the difficulties of community reintegration for the Reentry population.  In front of an audience that included several NUAV participants, Cassandra and Jeff highlighted the unique hardships faced by fathers including co-parenting after incarceration, the challenges of child support, and methods to avoid the “generational curse.”  

CCI’s Director of New Jersey Programs, Jethro Antoine, also participated by moderating a panel titled “Public Safety & Reconnecting Our Youth” which included Newark Police Director, Eugene Venable.

The vibe of the summit was overwhelmingly positive with a message that change is possible through collaboration.  

Check out the links below for additional information about the Men of Color Summit and My Brother's Keeper-Newark as well as the Midtown Community Court.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Newark Youth Court Law Day Celebration 

On Saturday April 25th, in partnership with the Rutgers Newark School of Criminal Justice, Newark Youth Court celebrated Law Day with an truly inspiring event titled, "Our Community, Our Stories: Police & Youth Conversations." Youth Court members and other Newark high school students gathered with representatives of the Newark Police Department for a morning of shared ideas and spirited conversation.

Check out the Newark Youth Court Facebook page for more details and pictures.  Special thanks to CCI’s Associate Director of Youth Justice Programs, Linda Baird, for all of her help and support getting this event off the ground.

Operation Clean Up!

Newark United Against Violence staff, participants and community volunteers all came together to celebrate Earth Day this past Saturday 4/25 by cleaning up their neighborhood as part of Operation Clean Up!  The event, organized locally by Newark Science and Sustainability Inc. in collaboration with residents, local government, businesses and both faith-based and community-driven organizations, spread across Newark, East Orange, Irvington, and Orange to clean up communities that have been plagued by litter.  It was a beautiful day and when volunteers were not out working in the sunshine, they were invited into the NUAV office to take a break, get some water and snacks, and talk with staffers about upcoming NUAV events.  It was great to see people of all ages working together to keep their community clean!

Friday, April 24, 2015

NCS Community Service at The Ujimaa Garden

The spring planting season has begun and Newark’s community gardeners are wasting no time getting their land ready.  Newark Community Solutions has worked with more than a dozen community gardens over the past three years but the Ujimaa Garden, run by Ms. Nicole Singletary in Newark's Central Ward, was one of our first partner locations.  On April 23rd, under the direction of Community Service Site Supervisor Johnathan Mosley, NCS participants finishing off a cement sitting area and worked to uproot a temporary walkway in order to install a new stone path. 

Stay tuned for updates on this and other NCS community garden projects through the spring, summer and fall!

Monday, April 13, 2015

From the desk of Colleen Smith
NCS Clinical Coordinator

On Friday April 10th, I attended the Paving the Way to Healing and Recovery Conference hosted by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. The event brought together over 200 individuals interested in bringing healing and justice to communities which have been affected by violence.  This included my incredible coworkers, Reentry Case Manager Latania Cobb and Outreach Worker Middy Brown, as well as one of our amazing Newark United Against Violence (NUAV) participants, Khalif Harris. Together they facilitated a break out session entitled Growing Up and Growing Out: Providing Meaningful Assistance to Young Men Who Have Been Affected by Violence. My only job was to get them there safely – which I did despite rush hour traffic and a very quick stop at the wrong location.

There is something electrifying about a good conference. Each panel offers new perspective, ideas, and energy. This event was no exception and our NUAV team did a remarkable job. Throughout the one hour panel the audience in attendance was nodding in agreement, laughing, and even crying. For his part, Khalif explained to those in attendance what made NUAV meaningful for him. He highlighted the accepting, familial atmosphere of the program and described the significance for him of painting the NUAV office as part of his transitional work program, and then returning to that same office for services. Latania and Middy then spoke about how their respective social work and outreach roles help to create the atmosphere Khalif described. The panel finished up with a message of hope, from Khalif who let the audience know that healing is possible.  As we were preparing to leave, I was approached by an audience member who said that I must be very proud of my team.  Proud YES and INSPIRED!

On behalf of that team I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center for letting us share our story.  Here is a link to more conference info on the Mediation Center site.