Thursday, April 21, 2011

Central Harlem Coalition presents.......

If I Can't Convince You...Then I Won't Enlist Them

After going to a recent coalition meeting, it became apparent that the level of buy-in from the members at the table was low to non-existent.  Every cue--body language, facial expressions, engagement level and talking--conveyed the message that several people would have preferred to be anywhere but at that meeting.  Unfortunately, I couldn't blame them for feeling and acting that way because after meeting for close to a year...they still have not bought into the idea of a coalition.

Good Intentions Doesn't Mean Action

Now, I'm sure that everyone around the table had good intentions when they first went into this venture.  After all, the idea that a community would ban together to share resources and address issues like underage drinking, gang violence, and substance abuse is exciting and under the right conditions would be able to accomplish alot.  This idea is probably what has kept many of them coming back each month...hoping for the ball to get rolling and making that difference.  However, just because they have good intentions doesn't mean that they know what to do to make it work.   That's where creating a plan that has a clear vision about where it sees the community in the future, a mission that focuses on how the vision can be reached & what areas to address, and objectives that provide specific actions, details and timeline, is a key component.  Each item takes time to create but like all good structures, is the foundation that supports everything else.

Getting on the Same Page

How can they get on the right track?  A few ideas include:

Take responsibility - Putting together a coalition is a lot of hard work and takes time.  Being able to have constructive discussions about the downsides as well as the upsides can help everyone reconnect to their reasons for being there and help avoid making some of the same mistakes going forward. 

Get a Consensus - Take another look at the vision and mission statement and make sure that everybody is in agreement and working towards the same goals.  Be sure to know that the issues and problems the group is trying to address really exist, what is being done by others, and where the group can have the greatest impact.    Be sure to revisit these items periodically to help keep everybody on the same page.

Assign Work - Get people involved in the work.   Don't be afraid to ask others to do some of the heavy lifting.  Everything from writing agendas and minutes, sending emails, making calls, finding data, creating brochures and flyers is fair game.   The more people are engaged and active, the more they will feel a part of the work and accomplishing the mission.

In the end, it will be the hard work, desire, and buy-in of the members that is going to drive the work of the group.  They will need to be 100% behind and a part of the group in order to maximize all opportunities from public relations, recruitment, donations, outreach and advocacy.  So...if you can't convince them, you won't enlist others.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Presenting the Central Harlem Coalition (CHC)

Hi folks....Last week, the members of the Drug Free Central Harlem Coalition met to continue planning their upcoming Youth Summit on Underage Drinking.  Plans for the event are coming along nicely with everyone transitioning nicely into their leadership roles and finalizing aspects of the Friday, April 29th event.  A few updates:

  • A title was chosen...."Blame it on the Alcohol: Youth Summit Against Underage Drinking"
  • The event will held at Our Children's Foundation (527 West 125th Street)
  • The Dept. of Transportation Safety Education Unit will provide two workshops, the first is on the physical, mental, and emotional effects of underage alcohol use & the second will be a panel discussion involving DUI offenders speaking about their decision to drink and drive and the consequences of their actions.  The group is hoping to get participants that are between 16-25 years old to have the message resonate with the kids in attendance.
  • Flyer will be ready for distribution in about a weeks time

Next week, the group will focus on reaching out to local organizations to recruit the kids......stay tuned!

Goodbye "Drug Free"

Once the event planning concluded for the evening, talk turned to the coalition structure with much of the discussion centering on branding (especially since the flyers needed to go out).  Members debated the name of the coalition and came to the consensus that the use of the words "Drug Free" were perhaps a little limiting and could potentially turn away some community stakeholders.  They unanimously voted to shorten the name to the "Central Harlem Coalition".   Additionally, they may add a tagline to help describe the focus of the group.

From moved to officially selecting two co-chairs for the group with representatives from both Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center & Our Children's Foundation being frontrunners.   While I'm pretty sure this will end up being formalized....I don't want to announce it prematurely...Stay Tuned!

Finally, the group voted to establish a P.O. Box and Coalition email address to help with correspondence and donations.   They can be reached at

They will also be working on revising the mission statement to better reflect the work and purpose of the group, creating some membership guidelines, and finalizing their MOU's.

It's been a lot of progress in a short time....not bad for a group that was unsure if they would continue three weeks ago....BRAVO!

Until next week.....CW

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Little Organization Goes a Long Way (LESPC)

Good planning at the start...goes a long way!
An impromptu meeting was held on the Lower East Side earler this week to talk about their proposed "Youth Leadership Night".  Apparently, they hit a few snags while putting together a donation letter and flyer.  With the coalition still in formation, the members are still working on completing their MOU's.  The "Memorandum's of Understanding" are the formal agreements that allow the group to list its members & it turns out a few of them haven't been turned it.  Now...the letter had to be changed so that everyone was properly acknowledged.  I guess they didn't want anyone to get in trouble for misrepresentation.

While this wasn't a life changing event, it seems to have gotten everyone thinking about the overall timeline with a few people now saying they want to push the event back a month to July.  The idea is to give more time for planning and promotion of the event.  Not a bad idea at all.  With all the work and time they want to put in....the Night should be given every chance to be a smash hit.  Cheers!

BTW....Next LESPC Meeting Date

Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Place: Immigrant Social Services, 137 Henry Street
Travel Directions: Click for GoogleMaps

RSVP: Contact Carlos at 212-571-1840

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gangs OR No Gangs? (LESPC)

Well...well...well...The Lower East Side Prevention Coalition (LESPC) has started planning a community outreach event for June 2011.  Details are still a little sketchy about the format but a few meetings has occurred to begin fleshing out the idea.  One of the formats called for a Gang Awareness Night that brought together gang affiliated & non-affiliated youth together to hear about the dangers and negative outcomes of joining a gang.   After a back and forth conversation that weighed the pros and cons of having the two populations in the same room, it was decided that the approach for each group would be different and may send a mixed message.   In the end, I find myself on the fence and think that under the right circumstances, it might work...just don't ask me what those circumstances would be...hmmm...any ideas?

Summer Youth Looking for Jobs

With news that the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is facing a significant bunch of layoffs for the upcoming season (again!), the LESPC has launched a community campaign to identify paid and unpaid internships for local youth.  They have reached out to community organizations, local businesses, and corporation partners to try and find suitable placements for the kids.   The idea is that if kids end up on the streets, then they will definitely engage in drinking and drug use.   Not a bad idea and most definitely pro-active on the part of the coalition.   Still, it seems that SYEP funding is always restored at the last minute but it will be interesting to see what resources are identified for the kids.  Maybe, they will have a few options available when its all said and done....Stay tuned!

Not Joking in Central Harlem (DFCH)

Happy April Fool's Day!  It might be a time for jokes today but the folks in the new and improved Central Harlem coalition have put their collective foot down and have been busy making plans for a Youth Summit on Underage Drinking on April 29th.
Since finding out at last week's general meeting that they were going to have to step up their efforts to organize and outreach for this event...they have risen to the challenge.  Reps from several Harlem organizations including Our Children's Foundation, Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and Civic Association Seving Harlem have been meeting weekly to plan out the festivities for the event.   So far, they have secured former NBA star, Luther Wright to be keynote speaker.  Luther has gone from rags-to-riches-to-rags as a result of his drinking problems and has quite a story to tell young people.     They have also received a generous donation from the Central Harlem Sobering Up Station to provide the refreshments for the event.  Plans are still being finalized for the venue, workshops, and special prizes and give-a-ways but it looks like things are coming together...Stay tuned!

Logos, Name, and Message
What should the Central Harlem logo be?
On another note, last night's meeting had an interesting conversation about the direction the group want to go into following the event.  Everything from the groups image, logo and message were discussed.  There was even talk of possibly changing the name in the future.   While nothing was decided last night, the group is looking to make some major decisions prior to the Youth Summit and plans to devote some time each week leading up to the day of the event to make some should be a very interesting conversation.

New Time to Meet, Same Location (for now!)

It occurred to everyone that the meetings always seemed to start a little late with several people running in the door around 6:30-ish. better accomodate everyone's schedule, the official start time for the meeting was changed to 6:30pm.   So here it is...

Next Meeting

Thursday, April 7th, 2011
6:30pm - 8:00pm
Our Children's Foundation
527 West 125th Street New York, NY 10027-3402

Take the 1 train to 125th Street station.  Walk east 1-1/2 blocks.  Between Old Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue (across from C-Town)

Take A,B,C,D train to 125th Street.  Walk west 2-1/2 blocks.  Between Old Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue (across from C-Town)

For more the NYC Prevention Resource Center at (917) 286-1540