Make it Happen: Brooklyn, NY

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Interview with Kenton Kirby, Director Of Trauma Support Services

BRIEFLY INTRODUCE YOUR PROGRAM AND THE POPULATION THAT IT SERVES
MAKE IT HAPPEN (MIH) WAS FOUNDED IN 2012 TO PROVIDE THERAPEUTIC AND HEALING SUPPORT SERVICES TO YOUNG MEN OF COLOR AGES 16-24 IN THE CROWN HEIGHTS AND BEDFORD-STUYVESANT COMMUNITIES OF BROOKLYN, NY. WE WORK WITH PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES AND ADDRESS THEIR TRAUMA AND VICTIMIZATION IN ORDER TO HELP THEM MAKE BETTER DECISIONS. THE THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTIONS PROVIDED TO PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS AIMS TO EQUIP THEM WITH TANGIBLE SKILLS AND TOOLS THAT THEY CAN USE TO NAVIGATE EVERYDAY LIFE CHALLENGES.

WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE BIGGEST NEED FOR THIS POPULATION AND HOW HAS YOUR PROGRAM ADDRESSED THAT NEED?
YOUNG MEN OF COLOR IN CROWN HEIGHTS AND BEDFORD-STUYVESANT FACE MANY CHALLENGES; HOWEVER, THE MOST GLARING NEED FOR THIS POPULATION IS THE NEED TO FEEL SAFE. MANY OF THE YOUNG MEN WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE MAKE IT HAPPEN PROGRAM ARE AT A HIGH RISK FOR VICTIMIZATION. THEREFORE, MANY OF THE DECISION THEY MAKE ARE BECAUSE OF A NEED TO FEEL SAFE. WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SOME OF THE SAFETY DECISIONS THAT OUR PARTICIPANTS HAVE MADE IN THE PAST MADE THEM FEEL SAFE MAY BUT MAY NOT BE LEGAL AND COULD RESULT IN HARM IN THE LONG TERM. WE WORK WITH OUR YOUNG MEN TO EXPLORE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SAFE AND HELP DEVELOP OTHER WAYS FOR THEM TO FEEL SAFE.

WHAT ARE YOU PROUDEST REGARDING YOUR WORK THROUGH THE SMSV GRANT?
WE ARE PART OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT THAT IS FINALLY BRINGING TO THE FOREFRONT THE EXPERIENCES OF YOUNG MEN OF COLOR AND THE ALARMING RATES OF TRAUMA AND VICTIMIZATION THEY EXPERIENCE. WE ARE DEVELOPING CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE SUPPORT SERVICES TO HELP YOUNG MEN OF COLOR HEAL AND LIVE HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES. ADDITIONALLY, I AM EXTREMELY PROUD OF THE PAVING THE WAY TO HEALING CONFERENCE. THE PAVING THE WAY TO HEALING CONFERENCE, DEVELOPED IN COLLABORATION WITH COMMON JUSTICE AND OTHER LOCAL PARTNERS, IS GOING INTO ITS FOURTH YEAR. THE CONFERENCE CREATES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS TO COME TOGETHER AND COLLABORATIVELY DISCUSS EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR OUTREACHING AND PROVIDING THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT SERVICES TO YOUNG MEN OF COLOR. THE CONFERENCE HELPS TO BREAK DOWN SILOS AND INCLUDES COMMUNITY BASED SERVICE PROVIDERS, SYSTEM BASED PROVIDERS, AND YOUNG MEN OF COLOR. THE CONFERENCE CONTINUES TO GROW EACH YEAR AND I AM PROUD OF THE HARD WORK AND DEDICATION THAT OUR PARTNERS DEVOTE TO THE PLANNING AND EXECUTION.
 
WHAT NEW RELATIONSHIP OR RESOURCE HAVE YOU FOUND TO HELP MOVE YOUR WORK FORWARD?
THE PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR LOCAL PROGRAM EVALUATOR, JACOB HAM, HAS BEEN EXTREMELY HELPFUL IN MOVING THE PROGRAM FORWARD. MANY PROGRAMS ARE NOT CONNECTED TO RESEARCHERS AND DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO CONSISTENTLY EVALUATE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTIONS BEING PROVIDED. JACOB IS CONNECTED TO EVERY ASPECT OF MAKE IT HAPPEN AND THIS HAS ALLOWED US TO INCORPORATE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION INTO VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM INCLUDING THE INTAKE FORM. AS A RESULT, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ADAPT AND CHANGE THE PROGRAM TO IMPROVE PARTICIPANT OUTCOMES AS THE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION IS HAPPENING. JACOB’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROGRAM HAS BEEN INVALUABLE AND WILL UNDOUBTEDLY CONTINUE TO INFORM OUR WORK MOVING FORWARD.

WHAT IS SOMETHING POSITIVE A CLIENT OR PARTNER SAID ABOUT YOUR WORK RELATED TO THE SMSV GRANT?
“MAKE IT HAPPEN SAVED MY LIFE.” YOUNG MEN OF COLOR ARE AT AN ALARMINGLY HIGH RISK FOR VICTIMIZATION AND THE WORK THAT WE DO CAN ULTIMATELY HELP TO SAVE LIVES.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THAT YOU WILL CARRY WITH YOU AS YOU CONTINUE THIS WORK?
WE MUST BE WILLING TO ADJUST AND CHANGE OUR PROGRAMS AND THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTIONS BASED ON THE FEEDBACK WE RECEIVE FROM CLIENTS. MANY PROGRAMS ARE UNWILLING TO CHANGE AND EVOLVE AS THEIR INTERVENTIONS BECOME LESS IMPACTFUL.  WE CONTINUE TO EVALUATE OUR INTERVENTIONS TO ENSURE THAT THEY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE YOUNG MEN WE SERVE.