On a recent afternoon at the headquarters of Operation H.O.O.D. in Coney Island, just hours before three to four dozen teenagers are due to roll through the building for an afternoon full of activities, the four staff members discuss what they have planned.
They make sure the dumbbells and exercise machines in the weight room are organized and working, the Xboxes are turned on, the pool table is racked and the art supplies are out.
Derick Latif Scott, the program director, is busy scheduling the programming events through the rest of the year, which include basketball tournaments, Secret Santa giveaways and pop-up cookouts. He is also fielding calls from the 60th Police Precinct and a State Assembly member who are asking for information about a shooting that happened near the Coney Island Boardwalk
the night before.
which stands for Helping Our Own Develop, is part of the city’s Cure Violence initiative — a method of treating gun violence as a public health issue. Piloted by Jewish epidemiologist Gary Slutkin in Chicago in the early 2000s, the approach treats street violence as a disease needing to be interrupted and prevented.
At their new 3,000-square-foot headquarters and walk-in center on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, local kids and teenagers can come after school and on the weekends to keep busy and stay safe.
“They really believe it is a safe haven in the neighborhood,” staff member Howard Ayers, who is known as “Papa Bear” by the kids, told the New York Jewish Week.