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Every day, but especially during Black History Month, we renew our commitment to the fight for justice and equality. We carry torches ignited by leaders who came before us – from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Harriet Tubman – who entrusted us and our partners to continue fighting until every one of our neighbors has the strength and the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Today we proudly accepted a Proclamation from the City Council and the Black Caucus for honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with our work.
Dr. King’s message remains a driving force behind our efforts. “In the words of Dr. King, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands of times at times of challenge and controversy. Tonight we are here to say thank you for standing with so many of us, in dark stairwells, on street corners, and for sacrificing yourselves to make our community better,” said Donovan Richards, acknowledging our Rock Safe Streets Cure Violence Program in his Far Rockaway District.
“Rock Safe Streets has rooted themselves in Far Rockaway and are continuously making strides to improve our community through prevention, treatment for trauma, advocacy, education, and economic development from within the community. After a year of programming in Far Rockaway, we have seen a 47% reduction in gun violence in our service area. We haven’t had a shooting yet this year. We thank you for everything you do in our community and are proud to work beside you to immensely improve the Rockaways,” said Richards.
The Proclamation commemorates a great victory for our community, but our success in Far Rockaway is just the beginning of our constant fight to bring the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to life for all New Yorkers.
“So much of our success is due to the incredible people of New York City who defy the odds when we give them the chance, when we give them hope, and when we grant them opportunities,” said Mohan Sivaloganathan, Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President at Sheltering Arms.
“Far from discouraging us, the challenges we see in our communities today remind us of Dr. King’s piercing call to action – ‘the fierce urgency of now’. That’s what keeps us going, that’s what keeps us pushing forward, and implementing programs like Cure Violence.
We see youth in Far Rockaway put down guns for the first time and commit to education for the first time. We see a youth in our Homeless Youth Program who is living in a school gymnasium and earning money by cleaning the floors in that same school gym. Instead of feeling beaten down or frustrated by his situation, he is motivated by the opportunity to save money and start his own nonprofit to give back to youth like him. We see families who are immigrants who are terrified by the threat of deportation or anti-immigrant violence, yet they persist in working multiple jobs so they can contribute to their communities and feed their families. These are the moments and the people who call us to rise to ‘the fierce urgency of now’.
We see hundreds of thousands of people protesting for the first time, signing petitions for the first time, placing phone calls, and sending emails to local officials. We have seen the fierce urgency of now, and we have answered the call.
You can count on Sheltering Arms to continue to embrace and embody what Dr. Martin Luther King meant when it came to that fierce urgency – that we don’t have time to play it safe. We don’t have time to sit back and see what happens. We stand with the people of New York, with the people who are ready for this fight. You can count on Sheltering Arms in the days, weeks, and generations to come.”