For 32 Brooklyn Kids, Christmas Arrived Early

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Community leader Charlene Nimmons and Brooklyn Nets defender Josh Childress, joined by corporate partners and local establishments, designed a very special early Christmas last Saturday for 32 young people who live in Brooklyn public housing.

Boys and girls ranging in age from 10 to 15 from Marlboro Houses, Lafayette Gardens, Atlantic Terminal, Wyckoff Gardens and other housing communities were treated to games of bowling, dinner and gift bags of a basketball hat and tee-shirts at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg by their host Childress (seen above signing autographs). Afterwards, at Modell’s across from the Nets’ Barclays Center home in Downtown Brooklyn, the youngsters experienced the wonderland effect, every kid’s dream: to be let loose in a store of choice.

They were invited to select a pair of sneakers priced up to $100, and they received $50 gift card to purchase NETS apparel, with most choosing the seasonal winter Nets hat, tee-shirts, and name-brand outfits to match the earlier gift of clothing gear. The nine accompanying chaperone volunteers were also given the chance to pick out sports shoes.

“Jordans get valuable with age,” explained one youngster to a television field reporter about his choice of footwear. And Nicholas, 15, said, “This is a good experience,” a comment that was more than pleasing to the ears of Charlene Nimmons, founder and executive director of Public Housing Communities, Inc. (PHC), a signatory to the Community Benefits Agreement. Ms. Nimmons (seen below with Childress) first approached The NETS about doing something special for the young people. “This is more than what I had in mind.

“Everybody had a wonderful time, it was awesome, phenomenal and the top people in this franchise are connecting with the community in some meaningful ways.”

Her non-profit organization has worked at the table with various players on the Community Benefits Agreement for nine years. Ms. Nimmons, almost singlehandedly it has been reported, held ground for residents of public housing. “I wanted to make sure we were part of it,” she said.

Resident associations and community center directors selected the participants in last week’s program, but Ms. Nimmons job was more than chaperone. “Just before the children entered the store, they all handed thank you letters to Josh.”

“We have a project called the Good Neighbor Program. We told Forest City, whatever is built; we had high expectations for their involvement and engagement with the community. We didn’t want to be adopted, we are not orphaned. We wanted them to invest in the community and to be Good Neighbors on all levels.”

Charlene submitted a proposal for a holiday party several weeks ago to Jeff Scott, director of Community Relations, For the NETS. His immediate response: “Josh Childress wants to do something with the community, take the children bowling, have dinner with them, talk to them, take them shopping. We accepted!”

PHC, a consortium of presidents of various resident associations, is responsible for the coordination, management and oversight of the public housing component of the Community Benefits Agreement. She reports that more than 600 public housing residents are employed at Barclays. (And that’s another story soon to be told in Our Time Press.)

“The direct participation of a famous Nets player in making 32 young people happy is an example of the CBA working organically. A chartered bus showed up at Wyckoff to pick up the young people. “There were name tags for every kid and all the chaperones. And there was Mr. Childress.”

Also, a community service advocate, Mr. Childress founded the active Josh Childress Basketball Clinic at his high school in Lakewood, California, several years ago. Ms. Nimmons observed, “Josh was a gracious, attentive and generous host; he gave his undivided attention to every kid and chaperone who talked to him, he posed for pictures, gave autographs upon request and helped fit shoes.” (Bernice Green)