On November 21st, 2017, Save Our Streets Crown Heights held their first Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Celebration throughout the entire program’s history. The event took place at Cultivate Bklyn, which is located at 267 Kingston Avenue. Leah Alper Anti-Violence Projects Coordinator, Violence Interrupter Zayquan Daniels and youth workers decorated the store front, creating a more intimate and Thanksgiving dinner feel.

Community residents arrived at 6:00pm and began to rapidly fill seats at the various tables that lined the storefront space. After welcoming each resident and engaging in conversations, the S.O.S staff, youth workers and volunteers began to serve the community members dinner and dessert for the night. The dinner consisted of macaroni and cheese, string beans, collard greens, fried chicken, candied yams, pasta with turkey meatballs, and, of course, turkey with gravy. The dessert consisted of sweet potato pies. The entire Thanksgiving dinner was catered by the Outreach Worker Supervisor, Rudy Suggs who is also a certified cook on his day job. He spends his nights saving the streets.

Community members ate their food while enjoying each other’s conversations and while listening to classic music such as Michael Jackson, New Edition and Bobby Brown. Once the dinner was finished the celebration began.

The celebration consisted of a free Turkey giveaway to the family members of the Save Our Streets participants, designated volunteers and long time supporters. To kick off the turkey giveaway. Program Manager, David Gaskin began to read off the Save Our Streets no shooting counts. As of November 21st, 2017 there were 78 days since the last shooting inside of the Save Our Streets catchment. This catchment travels from Kingston Avenue to Utica Avenue and from Atlantic Avenue to Eastern Parkway. Mr. Gaskin continued to share good news with those in attendance by stating, “Weeksville Gardens just recently hit 365 days without a shooting or homicide in or around their housing development. Albany houses holds the record for the longest streak without a shooting or killing. Albany housing development is over one year with 684 days without gun violence.” Last, Mr. Gaskin closed by informing all those present that, “The S.O.S catchment area also produced over one year (449 days) without a homicide by gun violence!” The audience joined staff as they led with the chant of , “Stop Shooting! Start Living!”

After the reading of the no shooting count, turkeys were given away.

Fairway Market (Corporate) donated 25 Turkeys to the Crown Heights community (Save Our Streets Program). Save Our Streets also received a generous donations of 5 turkey boxes that consisted of a whole turkey, stuffing a beverage, sweet potato pie and canned yams and greens by the 43rd District, New York State Assemblywoman, Diana Richardson. While the turkeys were being distributed to the Crown Heights residents the children in attendance entertained the people by showcasing their dance skills to the latest hip-hop tunes. Refreshments at the event were also provided by a generous donation from Food Bazaar.

The overall event was a success. Cultivate Bklyn holds up to 60 people. However, S.O.S Crown Heights were able to record a total of 80 people in attendance for their first Thanksgiving Dinner and Celebration.

Our volunteers included Legal Hand, Yo S.O.S, Brooklyn Justice Initiative, Crown Heights Community Mediation Center and representatives from the NYS 43rd District Diana Richardson’s office. Thank you to the Legal Aid Society, NYS Assemblywoman and long time supporter Diana Richardson, volunteers, community members, and Crown Heights Community Mediation Center staff who came out and celebrated with us.