Tweeting the way to community resilience: Frances Medina

Tweeting the way to community resilience: Frances Medina

Tweeting the way to community resilience: Frances Medina

Thank you Johanna Goetzel and City Atlas for featuring our Twitter Queen, Frances Medina!

When Hur­ri­cane Sandy hit the water­front of Red Hook on Octo­ber 29th last year, the Brook­lyn neigh­bor­hood took the brunt of the storm. The power went out, streets and base­ments flooded, and phone lines and cell phone ser­vice went down. Many peo­ple in the com­mu­nity emerged as lead­ers, work­ing inside and out­side the neigh­bor­hood to help orga­nize a response. With a jury-rigged inter­net sys­tem set up, some even tweeted about it, pro­vid­ing a cru­cial link between res­i­dents, fam­ily mem­bers out­side the neigh­bor­hood, and relief work­ers. City Atlas recently spoke with Frances Med­ina, who led social media com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Red Hook Ini­tia­tive (RHI) dur­ing the storm and the recovery.

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Junius

Junius

 

Junius Johnson came to the Red Hook Initiative in the fall of 2005 to be a Community Change Worker (CCW). Junius and his fellow CCWs created the Red Hook Directory, a 90 page guide to social services in the Red Hook community. After completing that project, Junius started volunteering at the Red Hook Initiative. After looking for a job without much luck, he decided to help others who were in the same situation. Junius created the Job Seeker’s Support group that met weekly. This group not only helped people to work on resumes, cover letters and interview techniques, it also gave people the chance to share news of job opportunities and to support each other in the search. Brooklyn Community Board 6 recognized Junius’ volunteer work by awarding him the Robert Acito Award for Youth Involvement.

With skills that he learned through the NPower Training Program, Junius has been able to lend his technical expertise to the Red Hook Initiative. Programming computers, troubleshooting glitches and maintaining a network now keep Junius busy with a part-time position at RHI. He is also able to balance the technical with the creative. Junius has planned and hosted three open mic poetry slams at the Red Hook Initiative.

Junius was able to benefit from the education services at the Red Hook Initiative. One-on-one tutoring sessions helped to prepare Junius for the SAT. He then worked closely with the Education Advocate to apply to college. With assistance from the staff at RHI and a board member, Junius has been able to secure a full scholarship to Sullivan County Community College with a guaranteed transfer to SUNY Purchase. He will study computer technology and social services. In the future Junius hopes to combine his interest and skill in technology with his natural tendencies toward helping others.

Alex

Alex

Alex Coles joined the Red Hook Initiative (RHI) in the summer of 2005 as a volunteer and soon became one of the first tree care interns at the organization. His mother, Samora Coles who is the Reproductive Health Coordinator at RHI, was very influential in his decision to work with the RHI. As a Tree Care Intern, Alex helps to maintain the newly planted trees outside the RHI along Clinton Street. The trees were planted as part of the Red Hook Street Tree Campaign launched in 2007, initiated by RHI, in an effort to improve air quality. Alex Coles also serves as a radio intern, forming radio playlists and information pieces for RHI’s internet radio show.

Since joining RHI, Alex has taken advantage of the other programs offered at the center such as tutoring and college preparation. Tutoring has improved his grades in subjects that were once troublesome; and with the help that he received, he managed to pass all of his New York State Regents exams. What Alex enjoys most about RHI is that he looks forward to coming into work everyday. “Everyone in RHI is close like a family,” he says, “I have a close relationship with everyone here.”

At RHI, Alex has gained knowledge on how to obtain a job and how to conduct himself professionally in a work environment. Also, Alex learned leadership skills and the importance of teamwork, which are virtues that will assist him in his new role as one of the football captains of his high school football team. In the future Alex plans on attending college, bringing with him the skills and life lessons he gained at RHI.