EBC/Metro IAF Rise Up Together to Meet Next Set of Challenges:
Senator Schumer, Congressman Jeffries, and First Deputy Chancellor Weisberg
Make Major Commitments
Early December, East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) turned out 1101 leaders with sister Metro IAF organizations Queens Power, Manhattan Together and South Bronx Churches, packing St. Paul Community Baptist Church and two overflow rooms, to rise up to a new set of challenges. For the past 40 years, Metro IAF has taken on key challenges of New York City. No one expected Metro IAF to build nearly 5000 affordable homes, transforming East New York. No one expected Metro IAF to reduce the murder rate by rebuilding neighborhoods or win the living wage or start the small high school movement resulting in 300 new schools. Olivia Wilkins, a long-time EBC leader, opened the Assembly by declaring, “We are here to get done what needs to get done. Rising above the pandemic. Rising above the division. Rising above the turmoil.”
The morning after winning the United States Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Metro IAF saying, “Let us rise up and build Nehemiah at Creedmoor. We will find the money needed for the environmental work. We will find the money to build. Together, we will get it done!” Citing the $14 billion in federal funding recently allocated for mental health services, he also committed to work with Metro IAF NY to find the funds to address the mental health crisis in New York and support building crisis response centers, units that provide drop-off care with wrap-around services for people experiencing mental health episodes instead of first responders taking them to the ER and/or jail.
Congressman Jeffries, who is now running for House Minority Leader, followed Senator Schumer and pledged his wholehearted support. EBC also called on the Department of Education to commit to a major school repair campaign. Chancellor David Banks was traveling. In his place, First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg committed to repair all items by the end of the school year and allocate at least $10 million in capital construction funding for major renovations needed. Authors Thomas Dyja and Sam Roberts were on hand to share the impact of EBC. And new leaders recognized three of EBC’s Founders, St. Paul’s Queen Mother Sarah Plowden, Bishop David Benke, and Alice McCollum.
Queens Power Co-Chair Ben Thomases led the powerful exchange with Senator Schumer. Olivia Wilkins (Redwood Senior Building and St. Paul’s) grounded leaders in their history and challenged them for the future. Seasoned leaders, Fr. Brank Black (St. Matthew’s Catholic Parish) and Rev. Sully Guillaume-Sam (St. Thomas Episcopal), and new leaders, Ignacio Valdez (St. John the Baptist Catholic Church), Vincent Domenech (Brownsville Nehemiah & Our Lady of Mercy), Principal Nadine Marshall (Horace Greene PS045), Florence Knights and her daughter, Gabrielle Smith (Bushwick Leaders High School), galvanized people with their stories of the issue work before them. Rev. David Brawley (EBC/Metro IAF Co-Chair and St. Paul’s) and new leader Jeannie Ortiz (St. John the Baptist) co-chaired the assembly masterfully, thinking on their feet, working together, following their instincts, and guiding the action through major pieces of work. Saying this is what democracy looks like, Rev. Brawley ended the assembly by charging everyone attending to “rise up and meet the challenges ahead.”