2001-01-06 / Columnists

From The G-Man Keeping Their Eyes on the PRYSE

From The G-Man
Keeping Their Eyes on the PRYSE

Hey people! Sorry about last week, but I got into a fight with a "kung flu" master and lost. It was an awesome battle at first, and you all would have been proud. I made Jackie Chan look like an amateur, but in the end my skills were no match for the vicious stuffy nose technique. Thank goodness for Vicks Vapor Rub.

A few months ago we ran a small piece about the new youth safety initiative in Rockaway. As a follow up to that story, I went to the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center to find out more about it.

In addition to the conversation I had with management, I received a copy of a newsletter that was distributed, and it states the following: "We are very excited to share with you a wonderful opportunity for the Rockaways. The Rockaway community has been awarded a federal grant through the Safe Schools / Healthy Students Initiative to reduce school and community violence and increase health and safety throughout the Rockaways. The grant, awarded in April and totaling nearly nine million dollars over a three year period, represents the largest dollar amount given to any community and is the only one awarded in New York City. The monies will be used to implement PRYSE - Project for Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education. Community School District 27, the designated lead agency, is the fiscal agent for the grant. The Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center has been designated the managing agency for the project and Fern Zagor, chief administrator of Mental Health and Community Services, is the project manager. Shirley Cole, another key representative at the JPAHC, will serve as the PRYSE Coalition Coordinator."

PYRSE offers a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in the Rockaways. We will now be able to take a comprehensive approach to preventing and reducing youth violence and developing and enhancing much needed resources for our youth, their families, and the entire community. Community residents will have access to parenting support and pre-natal care; conflict management; help with domestic violence issues; as well as information referral and advocacy services. PRYSE will operate in Rockaway’s two high schools, three middle schools and 10 elementary schools.

The project will provide at-risk students with alternatives to violence and substance abuse. Services will include after-school activities, mentoring, gang intervention services, job training/entrepreneur programs, and on-site mental health services. The funds will also support the expansion of school security services.

For PRYSE to really make a difference, we need the involvement of all those interested in the health and safety of the Rockaway community. This includes community residents, tenant and civic groups, Parents Association members, service providers, educators, the business community and our political representatives.

The list of coalition members is quite impressive. Some of them include the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bank Street College, Baruch College, the Center for Court Intervention, the Far Rockaway Ministerial Coalition, Peninsula Hospital, the NYPD, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Public Libraries.

"We need to have as many people from the community involved in this project as possible. We want them to know that someone does care about them and their concerns. All too often these people have been given false promises and lip service from a number of agencies and organizations. PYRSE is going to change all of that, and we are determined in our goal. We have some really great people and community organizations that are coming on board to help out," states Fern Zagor.

I applaud the efforts of Fern, Shirley and all those who were instrumental in obtaining the grant money for Rockaway. It is important to note that they were successful as a result of writing their own proposal and presenting it to the United States Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice. This was no easy task, but they got the job done. Moreover, they did it for the love of the community, and that is why I’m taking the time to acknowledge them. They are true heroes.

While the money that has been allocated to the Rockaways is a substantial amount, there will be an on-going need for funding of this project. I would ask that businesses and other foundations, in and outside of Rockway, get involved to ensure the longevity of the programs being implemented. They are essential, and they could go a long way into improving the lives of so many that are desperately in need and in search of a better life.

Last week The Wave reported that local landlord Jack Safos would be taking on the New York City Buildings Department on "The John Baxter Show". The dates provided were incorrect, and I will pass along the correct dates as soon as I have them. I can tell you Jack is a good man, and he needs community support, so be sure to watch his segment when it airs.

Memo to "Marty" from Florida- I read your comments in "Bag of Mail" last week. Anytime you want to sit down and look at all of the documents I have, relating to the Voting Rights Act violations that took place in Florida, just let me know. I’ll send you one hell of a Fed Ex package. You can also contact the NAACP and National Urban League for further info. Try telling them that this incident didn’t occur!

See you next week folks, and Happy New Year to you.

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