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Family Bodega Opens New Site on NYCHA Property

Family Bodega, a social services organization that provides counseling, support and resources to families in need, has recently opened its doors to serve the East New York and Brownsville communities of Brooklyn at its new location on the grounds of Unity Plaza Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development.

Family Bodega and NYCHA Executives
(left to right) NYCHA General Manager Douglas Apple, Family Justice Founder and Executive Director Carol Shapiro, NYCHA Vice-Chairman Earl Andrews, Jr. and Family Bodega Program Manager Jenn Batterton.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

"This is a day of celebration," said Family Justice Founder and Executive Director Carol Shapiro to a gathering of over 200 at the opening ceremony. "Given Family Justice's rich history of partnering with the Housing Authority, with law enforcement, and with families and the community, together we will chart a different course." Ms. Shapiro was referring to the success since 1996 of this supportive approach at Family Justice's first center, La Bodega de la Familia on the Lower East Side, which has resulted in decreased drug use and arrest rates, as well as the improved overall well-being among participating families. La Bodega also has a satellite location at NYCHA's Jacob Riis Houses, which is also on the Lower East Side.

NYCHA Vice-Chairman Earl Andrews, Jr. brought greetings from Chairman Tino Hernandez and paid tribute to Ms. Shapiro, noting how difficult it is to start something new. Mr. Andrews went on to express the Housing Authority's commitment to social services despite financial restraints.

Family Bodega Information Table
Family Bodega aims to replicate its successful service model in Brooklyn communities.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

"Family Bodega at Unity Plaza will be a valuable resource for NYCHA residents who are in need of the family-focused supportive services Family Justice provides," Mr. Andrews said. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to once again be partners with them and work to secure the health, safety, and advancement of our residents and the general community."

Family Bodega Program Manager Jenn Batterton served as mistress of ceremonies for the program and described the Family Bodega mission of providing family case management and walk-in referrals to area residents who face a range of complicated challenges, including involvement in the criminal justice system or risk of such involvement, unemployment, addiction, HIV/AIDS, and mental illness. Ms. Batterton also expressed special appreciation for the collaboration of Unity Plaza Resident Association President Cynthia Whitacker and to Intermediate School 328 Principal Douglas Avila. The students of nearby PS/IS 328 created a colorful, dramatic mural for the front gate of the sparkling new offices of Family Bodega.

Family Bodega is located at 340-A Williams Avenue and Blake Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn. They can be reached at 718-342-2650.

By Allan Leicht
June 14, 2007