Category Archives: Community Development

Celebrating Community 2011

Join Us at Center for Family Life’s  Celebrating Community 2011 Event on May 26!

At this year’s fundraiser, we’ll be honoring:

Adepero Oduye, Life Lines alumna and one of the breakout stars in this year’s Sundance Festival. She earned a standing ovation and rave reviews for her role as 17-year old Alike in the coming-of-age drama Pariah. A daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Adepero was born and raised in Sunset Park. She first fell in love with theater as a participant in the Life Lines program at Center for Family Life.


Martin & Gaudencia Rodriguez, owners of MimoMex Farms, part of the Sunset Park Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. MimoMex Farm cultivates over 80 different types and varieties of vegetables, including crops that are standard fare in Mexico but are uncommon in North American grocery stores. Their quality and selection of vegetables has earned the family  much acclaim at the Sunset Park CSA and New York City farmers’ markets.

Date: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Location: Why-Q – 75 Greene Street, 5th Floor, New York City

If you’d like to attend or to support the Center’s work, please print, fill out and return the following form to us: Reply Form.

For more information, please contact Bela Rex-Kiss at 718-788-3500 or


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Filed under Community Development, Youth Employment Program

Sunset Park Alliance Celebrates Adult Literacy Week

Last week was National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, an initiative that seeks to raise awareness and foster discussion about issues related to reading, numeracy, and English language learning. To celebrate the event, the Sunset Park Alliance, a coalition of community agencies, held an event to showcase the work of its members in providing innovative ESL and adult education services. As part of the event, participants from Alliance programs shared the impact these services had on their lives. Among those who spoke were members of the Center-supported cooperatives who are currently participating in ESL courses to improve their work-related language skills and earning potential.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott presents the mayor's proclamation to Alliance Director Stacie Sanchez. Photo: Laina Yoswein, SPA

Attendees at the event included Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, along with other city officials from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education, the Office of Adult and Continuing Education of the NYC Department of Education and the New York City Workforce Investment Board.

The Sunset Park Alliance is a collaboration of six agencies, including Fifth Avenue Committee, Center for Family Life, Lutheran Family Health Center, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Turning Point and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. The Alliance provides comprehensive case management services, engaging youth in training programs and social services to help them achieve their educational and career goals.

Below is a slide show of pictures from the event. For more photos, check out the Alliance’s Facebook page.

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Filed under Center for Family Life, Community Development, Education, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project, Youth Development

The Social Legacies of Joblessness

The Atlantic recently featured an article about the impact of the recession on American society. In How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America, author Don Peck writes that the sustained high rate of unemployment, particularly among men, will have a lasting effect on politics, culture and the character of our society:

If it persists much longer, this era of high joblessness will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults—and quite possibly those of the children behind them as well… It may already be plunging many inner cities into a kind of despair and dysfunction not seen for decades.

The worst effects of pervasive joblessness—on family, politics, society—take time to incubate, and they show themselves only slowly. But ultimately, they leave deep marks that endure long after boom times have returned. Some of these marks are just now becoming visible, and even if the economy magically and fully recovers tomorrow, new ones will continue to appear. The longer our economic slump lasts, the deeper they’ll be.

The author interviewed William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist, whose 1996 book When Work Disappears described the connection between the loss of jobs in urban neighborhoods i n the 1970s and social problems such as crime, family instability and low levels of social organization:

Wilson, age 74, is a careful scholar, who chooses his words precisely and does not seem given to overstatement. But he sounded forlorn when describing the “very bleak” future he sees for the neighborhoods that he’s spent a lifetime studying. There is “no way,” he told me, “that the extremely high jobless rates we’re seeing won’t have profound consequences for the social organization of inner-city neighborhoods.” Neighborhood-specific statistics on drug addiction, family dysfunction, gang violence, and the like take time to compile. But Wilson believes that once we start getting detailed data on the conditions of inner-city life since the crash, “we’re going to see some horror stories”—and in many cases a relapse into the depths of decades past. “The point I want to emphasize,” Wilson said, “is that we should brace ourselves.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Help Us Win Ashoka’s Changemakers Competition!

Center for Family Life needs your support! We are excited to be partiocipating in the Changemakers Competition by Ashoka and Green Mountain Coffee called Revelation to Action. The competition supports innovative ideas that strengthen and improve communities.

The Changemakers Competition is a great opportunity to get the word out about our partnership with immigrant workers to organize cooperative businesses that create opportunities for safe work at a fair wage.

You can increase our chances by visiting the Changemakers website, adding our project to your favorites and leaving positive feedback. Here’s how:

  1. Visit our project entry here and read about what we do.
  2. Add our project to your favorites and leave us feedback about our entry.
    1. If you do not have a Changemakers account, register on the site. It takes only a minute.
    2. Login at the Changemakers website.
    3. Visit our entry, and click on “Add to Favorites” on the right side of the screen. By leaving positive feedback, you can also help our chances to win.

Please also spread the word to your colleagues and friends! The competition is an open platform where we can share our work with the world, so the more people we can inspire, the better!

Thank you very much for your help!

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Filed under Community Development, Worker Cooperative Project

Get Involved in Improving Sunset Park’s Waterfront

Our friends at UPROSE are hosting a community forum  next Wednesday, March 31, on the implementation process of the Sunset Park “Greenway-Blueway” concept. The project is part of the Vision Plan for the Sunset Park Waterfront, which will revitalize this dilapidated industrial area. It includes modernizing the maritime and industrial infrastructure and re-activating vacant or underutilized space, as well as creating a new park at the Bush Terminal Piers and a path for pedestrians and bikers to connect parts of the waterfront to residential areas of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

Coordinating green space (Greenway) to lead to the waterfront park (Blueway), the Greenway-Blueway plan will add 25 acres of green space to the community. After facilitating the design of the “Greenway-Blueway” plan, UPROSE now focuses on the details of implementation. Held from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at 166a 22nd Street in Brooklyn, the community forum gives participants the opportunity to learn about and get involved in the implementation process. To RSVP and request translation or childcare service, contact UPROSE at (718) 492-9307 or

UPROSE also offers monthly “Environmetal Justice” tours around the Waterfront area using uniquely decorated, environmentally friendly buses. The tour is free for Sunset Park residents; for others, the fee is $20.  You can catch the two-hour ride before Wednesday’s forum from 4pm to 6pm. If you are interested, reserve your seat early (see contact info above) as space is limited.

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Cooking East to West Series Off to a Great Start

The Cooking East to West culinary project launched in December with a class featuring three of Émigré Gourmet’s chefs. In February, the series continued with a hands-on Indian cooking class led by Émigré chef Afsari Jahan. Participants learned the secrets of classic foods like tandoori chicken (see recipe below), and took part in a shared meal.

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Filed under Community Development, Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Using Social Group Work to Promote Leadership and Build Community

In February, staff and youth participants from the Center ‘s Community School Project at  PS 1 took part in the NYC 2010 “Beacon of Lights” conference sponsored by the Youth Development Institute. At the conference, they led a workshop on the use of social group work to foster youth leadership development and community building. The workshop featured presentations by our PS 1 youth participants who talked about their leadership role. In April, they will lead a similar workshop at the Coalition for Community Schools 2010 National Forum in Philadelphia.

Our staff at the PS 1 afterschool program

Group work is a core methodology of the social work profession that aims to promote individual growth and social change in the context of a group experience. Social group work provides a framework for anticipating predictable stages of group development and for selecting activities purposefully to meet the changing needs of the group and its participants at each stage in the life of the group. Group work is at the heart of the Center’s youth development programs, which are offered through partnerships with six Sunset Park public schools, including PS 1, PS 503/506, MS 136/MS 821 and the new Sunset Park High School. The use of social group work is a common thread across these programs, which provide a range of activities that help young people acquire skills through the arts, sports, educational support and community service projects. Continue reading

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Filed under Beacon Programs at PS 1 & PS 503/506, Community Development, Education, School-Based Youth Development Programs, Youth Development