Workshop to Focus on Future of Cypress Hills/East New York

Join the New York City Department of City Planning for an interactive workshop on how to implement a shared vision for the future of East New York and Cypress Hills on Saturday, September 20. The East New York Community Plan builds on a vision developed by community stakeholders with the Department of City Planning as part of the Sustainable Communities East New York study.

This vision for the future of the neighborhood includes new mixed-income housing, stores, jobs, and safer streets. Make sure join us at:

Cypress Hills Community School 265 Warwick Street Cypress Hills, Brooklyn

Please RSVP to eastnewyork@planning.nyc.gov. To find out more about the vision for the community, go to nyc.gov/sceny.

Workshop to Focus on the Future of Cypress Hills/East New York

Join the New York City Department of City Planning for an interactive workshop on how to implement a shared vision for the future of East New York and Cypress Hills on Saturday, September 20. The East New York Community Plan builds on a vision developed by community stakeholders with the Department of City Planning as part of the Sustainable Communities East New York study.

This vision for the future of the neighborhood includes new mixed-income housing, stores, jobs, and safer streets. Make sure join us at:

Cypress Hills Community School
265 Warwick Street
Cypress Hills, Brooklyn

Please RSVP to eastnewyork@planning.nyc.gov. To find out more about the vision for the community, go to nyc.gov/sceny.

CHLDC to Host Candidates Forum on August 12

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will host nonpartisan forum on August 12 for candidates vying in the primary for the 54th State Assembly District seat. The candidates participating in the forum will be Kimberly Council,  Erik Dilan and Cyril Joseph.

Topics to be discussed by the candidates, who are on the ballot for the primary election on Sept. 9, will include affordable housing, community safety, education, child care, and jobs. The event  will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cypress Hills Senior Center, 3208 Fulton Street on the corner of Richmond Street.

The event is co-sponsored by Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services, Blessed Sacrament Church, Crystal Church, Cypress Hills Child Care Development Corporation, East New York Community Coalition, George Walker Jr. Community Coalition, New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center, North Brooklyn YMCA, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, St. Philips Lutheran Church, and Sunnyside Block Association.  Translation services will be provided.  For more information, call Lawrence Booker at (917) 893-8801, Ext. 208.

Letter from Michelle

 Robert G. Wilmers, CEO, M&T Bank, was honored at our 30th anniversary; pictured here with Michelle Neugebauer, Executive Director


Robert G. Wilmers, CEO, M&T Bank, was honored at our 30th anniversary; pictured here with Michelle Neugebauer, Executive Director

Dear Friend,

Thank you to all who joined us last month to celebrate our 30th anniversary!

250 people attended the Brooklyn Winery celebration, raising more than $150,000 for Cypress Hills!

We’ve posted a photo album from our anniversary celebration on Facebook. Be sure to Like our page, if you haven’t already!

Our 30th anniversary also marked the premiere of Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation: Built to Last, a film about our work produced by East New York-based filmmaker Hemamset Angaza.

Take a moment to watch this film— it includes great footage of one of our affordable housing developments, under construction, and more!

Six months into 2013, and we have already expanded our college access work with a new initiative which connects 9th grade students with college-level courses. This edition of our newsletter will tell you all about our new program, as well as the story of one resident fighting to save their home, and how CHLDC helped!

As always, please enjoy this latest newsletter, and thank you for believing in Cypress Hills!

All my best,

Michelle Neugebauer
Executive Director

 

Letter from Michelle

Happy Thanksgiving! We are so grateful for your support of our mission to build a strong, sustainable community. When I look back on our year, I think of new gardens sprouting in empty lots, youth leaders advising their fellow high school students on the path to college, and residents realizing the American dream by purchasing their first home. We are proud of the work we do to build our community and we could not have done it without your generous support.

PromiseIt’s been an exciting and busy fall, as you’ll read in this newsletter. Just two weeks ago, neighbors, parents, and young people came together to envision how their community can support all children to succeed in school, and to come up with specific ideas to implement here in Cypress Hills. It’s all part of the Promise Neighborhoods planning process in

which we are partnering with dozens of community groups. And we’ve also launched the Middle School Student Success Center at IS 171, which assists students and families in navigating the complex process of sifting through hundreds of New York City high school and choosing the one that will prepare them for college and career. And so much more is on the way. We are hard at work on the last stages of construction of Cypress Village, which will give 29 low-income families a beautiful, affordable, and sustainable place to live. They’ll start moving in by end of next month!

All of this, of course, is part of what we do every day, nurturing leadership in our youth programs, our community organizing efforts, and our day-to-day work with residents-the kind of leadership that leads to improving our neighborhood. So from all of us at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, thank you and may you have a joyous and bountiful Thanksgiving.

 

With warmest regards,

Michelle Neugebauer
Executive Director

 

Letter from Michelle

2013 was great year for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), filled with accomplishments across all of our programs.

    • We now offer college persistence services to 400 graduates of our college access services to help them manage all the financial, academic and social challenges that come with college life, and persist through to graduation.
    • We opened the Middle School Student Success Center, the first program of its kind in New York City. Our staff help local middle school students and their families to navigate the overwhelming high school choice process, and select schools which put them on the path to college.
Building Cypress Village

Building Cypress Village

  • We mobilized more than 50 Cypress Hills Promise Neighborhood partners–from area public schools and community-based agencies to national nonprofits–in developing a plan to help our young people grow healthy and succeed in school. We were one of only 10 groups nationally to receive a Promise Neighborhood planning grants from the U.S. Department of Education in their last funding round.
  • We moved closer to our goal of creating more than 140 new units of affordable housing for families and seniors in our community. We will complete construction of Cypress Village, which will create 29 units of affordable housing, in the spring.
  • And we even helped a group of tenants, illegally evicted from their apartments, return to their homes.

These are just a few of the year’s highlights! All of our progress was possible thanks to your support.  So it’s time to celebrate! As you’ll read in this edition of our newsletter, we will be honoring community supporters and staff for all they do for Cypress Hills. I hope you’ll plan to join us for our Celebration of Community Progress and Annual Meeting. I’m also excited to tell you all about our afterschool program at East New York Elementary School of Excellence that is just few months old but already engaging students in everything from building scale-model volcanoes to learning the latest dance moves.

Enjoy the newsletter and, as always, thank you for believing in Cypress Hills.

All my best,

Michelle Neugebauer
Executive Director

Letter from Michelle

With winter’s chill slowly giving way to some warmer weather, we at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation are excited to invite you to our annual rite of spring: the Spring Benefit. It’s coming up on Tuesday, June 3, from 6 pm to 9 pm at American Whiskey, 247 W. 30th St. (between 7th and 8th Avenues), in Manhattan. You can purchase tickets online.

Spring Into Action: The Cypress Hills 2014 Benefit is scheduled for June 3.

Spring Into Action: The Cypress Hills 2014 Benefit is scheduled for June 3.

Spring Into Action: The Cypress Hills 2014 Benefit is scheduled for June 3.

Our theme this year is Spring Into Action: Eat. Drink. Give. Grow. So join us for drinks, food, trivia, a silent auction, and a lot of fun and friendship. I can’t wait to see you there!

And I hope you’ll enjoy the stories in this issue of our newsletter. We feature Omar Spence, one of our dedicated AmeriCorps members, who serves in our afterschool program. We have run an AmeriCorps program for nine years and members make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students.

This year, we’ve launched a new program called Escalera that was developed by the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s leading Latino civil rights organization and of which we are proud to be an affiliate. Escalera is a hands-on college and career readiness program that is preparing young people to seize their futures. We’re looking forward to making all the benefits of the Escalera Program available to students at the Franklin K. Lane High School campus.

As always, thank you so much for your support, and I hope to see you on June 3.

All my best,

Michelle Neugebauer
Executive Director

AmeriCorps member commited to serving Cypress Hills children

It’s just after 5 p.m. and AmeriCorps member Omar Spence is in his element.

AmeriCorps member Omar Spence

AmeriCorps member Omar Spence

The gym at PS 65 is packed with kids seated cross-legged in a large circle. The decibel level has started rising, so Omar takes center stage. He cups his hands around the edges of his mouth. “Eyes on me,” he booms. Suddenly, right on cue, the students stop their chatter and focus on him, responding in kind: “Eyes on you.”

“We’ve had some great performers this week learning about health and fitness,” Omar tells the kids. “And it’s Friday, so it’s time for Positive Performers.” A cheer goes up and so it begins. For the next 15 minutes, the after-school team at PS 65, made up of CHLDC staff and AmeriCorps members, will choose two students from each grade whose behavior and participation has been so exemplary as to be worthy of recognition. Each youngster will get a certificate, a treat from Omar, a prize they fish out of a box, and the cheers of their classmates.

An AmeriCorps member and his students celebrate a Positive Performer.

An AmeriCorps member and his students celebrate a Positive Performer.

“We do this every Friday and the kids really like it,” says Omar, 24, who has been part of CHLDC’s AmeriCorps program for a year. “We started it to reinforce those good values we want them to learn. We have this one boy, who had real trouble controlling his behavior, get selected [as a Positive Performer] and he had tears in his eyes. It meant a lot to him — that he was able to control his behavior and get recognized for it. That’s what we’re trying to do — to build up those good habits and values and have them mean something positive for the kids.”
As it turns out, Positive Performer Fridays is one of Omar’s pride and joys. He was a driving force in launching it in November, and he’s been coordinating it from week to week ever since.

Omar is one of 32 members of the CHLDC AmeriCorps team, which works with children across the various after-school programs on everything from health and fitness activities to literacy skills development and homework help. And he’s one of only two AmeriCorps members in the cohort who serves full-time, on pace to devote some 1,700 hours of service as part of his AmeriCorps experience.

Helping improve literacy skills is a key focus for AmeriCorps members.

Helping improve literacy skills is a key focus for AmeriCorps members.

“They do it all,” says CHLDC AmeriCorps Program Director Sandy Ramrattan, who began at CHLDC as a 17-year-old AmeriCorps member nine years ago. “We have very dedicated AmeriCorps members, totally committed to helping the community.”

And Omar is nothing if not committed.

“I do it because I love working with youth,” he says. “And I do this because I believe in Cypress Hills [Local Development Corporation].  This is a program and an organization that cares about the community, and I’m passionate about working within communities and building them up. I’m a believer that if you can find work that you look forward to doing every day, you’ll take pride in it that much more. To me, I’ve found that work right here in Cypress Hills and PS 65.”

Letter from Michelle

Happy summer! We at Cypress Hills are now in full summer mode. In fact, July 1 was the start of summer camp season. More than 840 Cypress Hills children are enrolled in our summer camps, enjoying the chance to learn, play sports, garden, and take field trips. Another 400 young people have jobs through our Summer Youth Employment Program.

Camp kidAnd I have even better news to report: The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) allocated us 100 more positions, which means that we were able to place another 100 young people, 14-24, in jobs for the summer. These jobs are so vital to our community and young people. For many of them, it’s a milestone: their very first job.

I also wanted to thank everyone who supported us during our annual Spring Benefit. The event was a great success and we raised more than $44,000 for our organization. I cannot thank you enough as we count on these contributions to continue to make a difference in our community.

Please enjoy this latest newsletter and, as always, thank you for believing in our work and in Cypress Hills. May your summer be filled with friends, family, and fun.

Michelle Neugebauer

Executive Director

New initiative focused on making healthy food plentiful in Cypress Hills

“What do you guys think of the food in the neighborhood?” Cassandra Flechsig asked a group of 14-year-olds at CHLDC’s Summer Youth Employment Program orientation at IS 171.

The 20 or so young people paused to consider an answer. It was a question many of them hadn’t thought much about. As Cassandra gave them more information about health and nutrition, the teenagers began formulating answers.

“It’s bad food,” a student finally concluded.

“Lots of fast food,” said another.

“I like fast food,” someone else chimed in.

“But it’s processed,” the first student responded.

CHLDC's Alyssa Hoyle prepares a smoothie to prove to young people that healthy food is also delicious.

CHLDC’s Alyssa Hoyle prepares a smoothie to prove to young people that healthy food is also delicious.

And so it went. Equal parts consciousness raising and healthy food demonstration, the workshop was part of CHLDC’s Communities for Healthy Food, a new initiative that promotes healthy living across the various CHLDC divisions and through partnerships with local restaurants and bodegas, urban gardens, farmer’s markets, and nutritional education. The program is funded by a grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) via the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

“Really, what we are trying to do is help people in Cypress Hills lead healthier lives,” says Cassandra, CHLDC’s community healthy food advocate.  “For us, that starts with having access to healthful food options. That also means knowledge–knowing that some foods are filled with sugars or saturated fats and having the knowledge and power to eat more healthfully.”

Cassandra, along with Food Access Outreach Coordinator Alyssa Hoyle and intern Kelsey Camilo, demonstrated just that point in the workshop by telling the teens what the average American consumes in sugar daily (25 teaspoons compared to the World Health Organization’s recommended 6 teaspoons) and showing them the hidden sugars in a range of processed foods.

They then proved to the students that healthier food could be as yummy as any processed food by blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie. Their point was that nutritious meals can be prepared with foods from the corner bodega

A sign outside Tavares Restaurant advertises its new healthy "Power Plate."

A sign outside Tavares Restaurant advertises its new healthy “Power Plate.”

Another cornerstone of the initiative is working with local businesses to help them highlight current and offer new healthy menu options. The Communities for Healthy Food team has been actively reaching out to businesses in and around Fulton Street to offer more wholesome fare.

Tavares Restaurant, for example, proudly displays in its front window a “Power Plate” sign advertising the healthy lunch plate designed with the help of the Communities for Healthy Food team.

“I am happy to help out my neighbors who want to eat more healthfully by taking part in this effort,” said Julio Tavares, owner of the eatery on Cleveland Street. “Working with the CHLDC program, I am planning a new menu with lots of salads, vegetables, fruits and whole grains for fair prices. I know it will be popular with my customers.”

The market is staffed entirely by youths from Cypress Hills.

The market is staffed entirely by youths from Cypress Hills.

To promote the healthier options, the program recently published the Fulton Street Food Guide in collaboration with Teachers College Columbia University students. It includes descriptions of 13 markets and restaurants in the neighborhood, which stock items such as raw and prepared fruits, vegetables, and grilled and steamed dishes.

In addition to education and outreach, the initiative also includes the Cypress Hills Youth Market, which is run by young people and sells locally grown produce from July through November. And this year, the CHLDC team helped bring a second farmers’ market to the neighborhood on Elderts Lane and Liberty Avenue.

Residents queue up to purchase fruits and vegetables at the CHLDC Youth Market.

Residents queue up to purchase fruits and vegetables at the CHLDC Youth Market.

Cassandra and Alyssa are optimistic about the impact the program will have on the neighborhood. Restaurants and bodegas have been open to including healthier food options, the Youth Market will attract more people by hosting music performances, cooking demonstrations, and other on-site promotions. And educational workshops will be part of summer programming at El Jardin del Pueblo, CHLDC’s urban garden.

“Our message is that knowledge is empowering,” Alyssa says. “I hope that education about nutrition will allow community members to lead healthier, happier lives.”