S.O.S tries to change the culture of Crown Heights from one marked by destructive senseless street violence to one of community pride, peace and security. I have worked for many years helping individuals and communities to dream the changes they wanted to make and to make the changes they dreamed. I expect that we are going to do that here too. The people of Crown Heights are certainly strong enough, smart enough and determined enough to create the neighborhood they dream of. I feel privileged just to have a chance to help.
As director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, Amy Ellenbogen oversees the day to day operations of the neighborhood problem solving center. She is currently focused on providing conflict resolution and youth court programming to schools and youth organizations in Brooklyn. She has worked in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles as an educator, social worker, community activist and program founder. She founded ROOTED (Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education), a Columbia University program designed to facilitate student dialogue around issues of identity as they relate to power and privilege. Ms. Ellenbogen has a BA degree in Ethnic studies and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University.
I’m a Brooklyn native, born and raised. I was once a volatile youth, carrying guns and getting into serious issues with the law, as many youth do today. My last run in with the authorities ended with a lengthy sentence in federal prison. While incarcerated, my mother became terminally ill and one of her wishes in her last days was for me to straighten up my life and do something positive. I have always had the drive to teach the youth that there are alternatives to violence. S.O.S. has given me a platform to give back to the community that I took so much away from, and to teach young people the advantages of a different mind set. My own son is now 20 years old and attends college.
David Gaskin is the Outreach Supervisor for Save Our Streets Crown Heights. David arrived at S.O.S after working with diverse groups including people in the criminal justice system, alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs, and people impacted by H.I.V/AIDS, substance abuse and domestic violence. David is also a former gang member who now promotes healthy masculinity among young black men.
Derick Scott is the Outreach Supervisor for S.O.S. Bed-Stuy and one of the founding members of Save Our Streets in Brooklyn. Derick explains, “I am not just an Outreach Supervisor. I would love to believe that I am the change that I wish to see. I was once a product of the disease of violence. Now I am an advocate of non-violence with love, honor, and respect as my shield.”