We are happy to introduce our newest position at the Mediation Center, the Community Engagement Liaisons, which are held by David Grant in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Karolin Betances in Crown Heights. The Mediation Center is expanding and we want to make sure our relationships with the community expand as well, which is where our liaisons come in. As the Community Engagement Liaisons, their job will be to focus on strengthening community partnerships, mobilizing residents, and promoting public health and safety, as well as representing the Mediation Centers programs. Want to meet them? Check out our interview with David below!
Leah: Hi! I know you’ve been involved with the Mediation Center for a while, can you tell me how you first got started?
David: I started working at the Mediation Center in February 2013 as an Outreach Worker because of my calling to help high risk individuals get their life on track, motivate them to put down the guns, and become productive citizens.
Leah: Cool. When you were working as an Outreach Worker, where were you working?
David: I started in Crown Heights Brooklyn, and then in 2015 I was part of the founding Street Team in Bed-Stuy.
Leah: What was it like bringing the Save Our Streets program to a completely new neighborhood?
David: I felt really proud of being in my community and being able to make a huge difference in helping the community being safe. Being residents of Bed-Stuy, we put a lot of passion, love and pride in our work in Bed-Stuy. It was a dream come true and it made us feel great about seeing the community embrace us and trust us.
Leah: That’s awesome! It sounds like you were able to help start a program that continues to make impacts throughout Bed-Stuy. What would you say you learned from that experience?
David: I learned there is a great need for a program like S.O.S. We as a community can make positive changes, with great communication, great listening skills and team work. I saw 1st hand it can be done.
Leah: It’s clear you put a lot of time and energy into the program. Since working in Bed-Stuy, what else have you done at the Mediation Center?
David: I have had the pleasure of working with all five programs at the Mediation Center. I keep my ear to the streets and connect people to the services we provide.
Leah: It sounds like that has prepared you well for your new role as Community Engagement Liaison. What are some goals you have for your new role?
David: One of my goals is to strengthen our relationship outside the catchment area, being an advocate for the community (not just gun violence) and getting people the services they need.
Leah: Those are some exciting goals. Do you have any specific events you’d like to collaborate on with community members or organizers to accomplish those goals?
David: I’m very excited about having to work with elected officials, community leaders, residents, clergy, and local business owners to partner with our events as well as theirs. My 1st goal is to get people to see the need to support us when we are doing our shooting responses. All we ask is people to stand with us for thirty minutes. When a family is grieving it feels good to see a large number of people showing support.
Leah: It sounds like that’s a really concrete action step for community members to take. What is the best way for folks in the community to get in touch with you?
David: It is and the community can do it. The community can reach me via cell phone and email 646-725-7691, firstname.lastname@example.org.