In our continuing effort to report about news worthy events in neighborhoods, and going beyond the downtown. This week our continued focus is on the community of Clinton Hill. Mayor Ras J. Baraka, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, advocate-author Aqeela Sherrils, Health and Community Wellness Director Dr. Hanaa Hamdi, Rutgers University-Newark, PSE&G, and the Victoria Foundation will launch the Newark Community Street Team initiative Today, Friday, May 8, 2015, at 11:30 a.m., at the Little City Hall, at 570 Clinton Avenue, in the City’s South Ward.
The Newark Community Street Team is a six-month initiative that will place 15 outreach workers in the South Ward Model Neighborhood Initiative area (Clinton Hill) to assist approximately 100 individuals who are seeking to stabilize their lives and turn away from a life of crime. The outreach workers will provide mentoring, life skills, and case management to participants.
The program will also provide safe passage to high school students at South Ward high schools, community events in the Model Neighborhood, and organize a community task force to connect law enforcement agencies with the community.
The program will operate first in the South Ward Model Neighborhood Initiative area, and then in all five wards. It will be headquartered in the South Ward Boys and Girls Club, and is headed by Tyrone Barnes, a Newarker with great experience in training prison officials, counseling at-risk youth, and assisting pre-release prisoners and re-entering offenders.
“Neighborhood residents involved in community building spend most of their time jointly working on productive activities that directly address the problems and opportunities to which they give high priority, whether it is cleaning up a vacant lot, planning a housing rehabilitation project, trying to improve school quality, or mounting a citizens’ patrol to prevent crime. As they do these things they are automatically building social capital—developing friendships and mutual trust, sharing and strengthening common values, learning how to work together as a team to get things accomplished, building confidence that they can achieve meaningful results, and strengthening their own institutions. This capital then spills over into the future”, said, by Karen Fulbright-Anderson, of the Aspen Institute
Every day, across the country, more than 1.4 million young people run from or are asked to leave homes characterized by abuse, neglect, or parental drug or alcohol abuse. Once on the streets and away from adult supervision, many youth risk being sexually exploited or abused by adults for pleasure or profit.
But to a street outreach workers can be a front line defense directing specific individuals services that fit that particular client and a particular ciommunity. These outreach programs have been implemented throufghtout the country, Oakland, Chicago, Washington, , Debevr and many miore. t
One-to-one interaction between staff and youth is what makes street outreach efforts successful, outreach workers say. A street outreach worker’s ability to be in the moment, focus on the individual, and meet young people “where they’re at” is critical.
True, outreach workers encounter many young people during the course of a night, but each one, they say, requires individual attention, support, and guidance. This may mean providing street-based education, on-the-spot counseling and referrals for other services, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, or survival aid.
But meeting youth “where they’re at” means more than meeting them “on their turf.” Outreach workers say it means helping youth in their own time, when they’re ready.
“I want to help as many kids as I can, but I want to make sure that I don’t work harder than they do,” says Nicole Bush, a street outreach worker at Urban Peak in Denver, Colorado. “They have to put forth an effort too.”
Street outreach workers empower youth to make their own choices, and when youth are ready, staff help them explore the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Then staff link youth to resources that can bridge that gap. If a young person is not ready to explore those options, street outreach workers simply remain available to them until they are.
Most youth appreciate knowing that there are people willing to help. “Knowing that there is somebody out there just wanting to hear about your day,” Jerome Pettet says, “whether it’s a kid living on the street or anyone else, it can really have a profound impact on someone’s life.”
The Ndewark iniaitive will be led by Mr. Sherrils, who brokered the 1992 gang truce between the Bloods and Crips in Los Angeles, is the project director. Mr. Brown’s Amer-I-Can non-profit will be supporting the program, as well. Partnerships have been established between the street team and Newark municipal agencies to link participants with City services and training programs. The Victoria Foundation, PSE&G, and Rutgers University-Newark are key partners in this initiative.
Who: Mayor Ras J. Baraka
NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown
Advocate-Author Aqeela Sherrils
Health and Community Wellness Director Dr. Hanaa Hamdi
What: Will launch the Newark Community Street Team Initiative.
When: Friday, May 8
Where: Little City Hall
570 Clinton Avenue