"When we work together, we each need just a little spark of hope. If we each hold on to a tiny spark, our movement for peace and justice will blaze!"
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Deke Houston who directs a local boxing club in partnership with Jumani Kendrick of Mission Safe sent me this beautiful pic of our newest Team Nika family members!
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The hot summer is coming to a close. I'm enjoying the groove of summer activity in the district. As with all things 2021, the good and bad rear up together, and our response makes all the difference.
While enjoying a "hot dog night" in one of our public housing developments and chatting with a constituent, she showed me a photo of a bullet hole in her window from an incident two days prior. Thankfully no one was harmed, but, of course, she was feeling discouraged. She said public safety has improved in recent years, but she felt hopeless about the longterm presence of shooters and the harm and fear their actions cause.
I was able to tell her about a boxing club in our district where street workers partner with other community leaders to provide holistic youth development services as part of a youth boxing program. Street workers focus their outreach to kids and young adults who are engaging in risky and dangerous behavior, like the young people who shot at her window.
The club recently offered a venue for me to meet some of these kids. I learned more about the violence and trauma they had been through—pain that was driving our beloved youth from one neighborhood in my district to shoot at our beloved youth in another, the neighborhood where Team Nika was cosponsoring hot dog night with our Senator. Thanks to the club director and the youth workers, I had some candid conversations with the youth and began the work of gaining their trust. After a few interactions, they committed to try out working with me to help lead our community to a better place.
I'd only learned about the program the week before and discovered then that their building had been sold. The boxing program, including a beautiful custom ring, was about to become homeless. Struck by the importance of the program's potential outcomes in my district, I worked to connect them to a permanent home in 15th Suffolk.
These issues are complex and require the incredible skill of our community leaders, as well as deft partnering, to address effectively. It takes long-term commitment and consistency. It takes building each other up in faith and action.
Our hot dog night constituent had started the conversation telling me she was out of esperanza: "hope." I told her what I'm telling you now. "When we work together, we each need just a little spark of hope. If we each hold on to a tiny spark, our movement for peace and justice will blaze!"
Two weeks ago I was praying for the opportunity to reach youth who felt the need to pick up a gun. Now, the connection a youth worker made for me and for Team Nika will ultimately help us build bridges between youth with longstanding conflict across our district. I think the constituent was encouraged by this story, as I hope you are.
This and many Team Nika stories are still unfolding. As our impacts in the district grow, I continue to need your help! The movement we are building needs your time, talent and financial support. Your partnership is the engine that makes the transformational work of Team Nika consistent and effective!
Please contribute today ([link removed]) . Our work inside and outside the State House is building bridges and making real change that's only possible when we work together across lines that traditionally keep people apart. Stay active, be well, and enjoy the rest of your summer!
This young lady was late for hot dog night at JP’s Mildred C. Hailey apartments but very proud of her Team Nika shirt. I asked for a fist bump but she insisted on a hug. #RepCOVIDSafetyFails, except that her hug only came up to my knees. So I think we’re alright!
It’s redistricting time, and I’m in lots of conversations about it!! Racial justice is one critical element. Also making sure each neighborhood gets fair representation and isn’t too split up!