June 10th will, indeed, be a great day in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Brooklyn-Queens Day seemed a fitting choice for a day of celebration. There are still several churches that participate in the traditional Sunday School Parade, and efforts are underway to renew the wonderful spirit of that event in the coming years. In its place is what may become a new tradition as the Discover Your Neighborhood Expo joins forces with Boys and Girls High School for their first “Pride and Joy Day”.
The Fourth Annual Discover Your Neighborhood Resource and Safety Expo will be held at historic Boys and Girls High School, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. With the theme, “Discover Bed-Stuy”, the event is an invitation to neighbors throughout the community to come and find out more about the many services and programs that are available either right in the neighborhood, or easily accessible through the network of city services.
The Expo is presented by the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth, Education and Safety (YES) Task Force, Community Board 3 and the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc. This year, the event is hosted in partnership with Boys and Girls High School. The new principal, Bernard Gassaway, has solid plans to open the school to the community, and to develop collaborative efforts that will assist the students. Under his leadership, creative initiatives have already been instituted, and the Expo is an example of the type of ongoing community support that will be necessary to encourage the entire school family. As part of the Expo collaboration, the students have designed an exciting series of events under the banner of “Pride and Joy Day”. Plans are underway for a Pride and Joy Parade that will begin at noon and proceed from “the High” to “Old Boys High”, “Old Girls High”, and back to the school. Other activities may take place on the field prior to the opening of the Expo at 5:00 p.m.
According to Michael Bailey, this year’s Discover chairperson, “This is one-stop shopping in a fun and exciting setting. People will be able to meet and talk with representatives from municipal agencies as well as local groups of all kinds.” Last year, more than thirty city agencies and community-based organizations were represented. This year, such municipal agencies as the Departments of Fire, Sanitation, Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), and Parks and Recreation are already set to participate. Critical youth services such as SCO Family Dynamics, Herbert Von King Cultural Center and Children of Promise will all have information about their programs.
Discover 2010 is planned as a community happening that will have something for every community resident. The Health Pavilion is being coordinated by The Watchful Eye and Community Board 3, and will provide confidential on-site screenings and wellness information. Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Services, the Provident Clinical Society and Woodhull Hospital will be among the providers taking part.
One of the most popular aspects of the Expo is the informative workshop series. For example, adults are invited to the session on free and low-cost job training programs. Daisy Torres, Principal of the Brooklyn Adult Learning Center, said that, “Very often, people are either looking to learn a new skill in order to upgrade on a present job or to prepare to compete in the job market for the first time. They do not know that Brooklyn Adult Learning Center has been right here in the Old Girls High School building for more than forty years. We have thousands of great success stories of people who have gone on to make better lives for their families. We offer a wide variety of courses that range from basic education and GED prep all the way to careers in such fast-growing areas as computer repair and licensed practical nursing.” A second workforce preparation session will offer information for young adults who have left school before graduating.
Another important workshop will focus on the greening of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Retrofit Bed-Stuy is a project that is operated jointly by NYSERDA and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in collaboration with the Pratt Center for Community Development. Homeowners and block associations will learn more about the programs under the Retrofit umbrella that will bring much-needed relief to people who want to make more energy-efficient improvement to their properties. There are many incentives for block associations, as well as real opportunities for training and placement in green jobs. In a community with high unemployment and foreclosure rates, these workshops will provide hopeful resources.
The 79th and 81st Precincts will be on hand with a workshop entitled, “Working Together to Create a Crime-free Community.” This workshop will feature strategies that can be jointly undertaken by residents and police personnel operating in a cooperative manner. Crime rates have spiked in some areas, and there is growing concern in all parts of the community. Brenda Fryson, one of the co-chairs of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth, Education and Safety Task Force, said that this situation can only get better when police and community work hand in hand. “There must be mutual respect on both sides. We depend on NYPD personnel to be as courteous and professional as they are in other neighborhoods around the city. We have the exact same expectations, and will accept no less. Thanks to the work of our precinct councils and other groups such as the Task Force, we have made steps toward better police-community relations.”
Color and excitement will be added to the evening with the popular Food Court, Kids’ Corner and Shopping Bazaar. The Food Court will feature reasonably priced tastings from some of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s most gifted chefs and caterers. The cost of the food is intentionally kept low so that more people can have the opportunity to enjoy what is known as “A Taste of Bed-Stuy”. The Family and Kids’ Corner will play host to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, an arts and crafts table, face painting and family reading information provided by the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
All block and tenant associations are encouraged to register for the workshop series that has been designed especially for them. Topics include: Retrofit Bed-Stuy, Foreclosure Prevention Assistance, and Creating a Crime-free Community. As in past years, a gift will be presented to each association that sends at least five representatives to each of the workshops. There will be special recognition at the fall meeting of Community Board 3.
“We want to make sure that all of our neighbors come out and enjoy this free event. It is just for us …those of us who live and work in Bedford-Stuyvesant. We have a lot to offer, and the Expo is a great opportunity to find help of all kinds,” said Henry Butler, Chairperson of Community Board 3.
Funding for the Expo is generously provided by Councilman Albert Vann and the New York City Council. Community partners include Our Time Press, Office of the Brooklyn District Attorney, the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant, African-American Clergy and Elected Officials Organization, and the Boys and Girls High School Advisory Committee.
For more information on all Expo events and to register block and tenant associations, please call Community Board 3 at (718) 778-6005.