Thursday, November 29, 2012

"I'm Your Mother"


Last night was a special evening in central Brooklyn: a celebration of Ife Charles, who has recently been promoted from being the deputy director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center to assisting with all of our gun violence prevention programs citywide.  The standing-room-only crowd packed into the storefront mediation center testified to the remarkable breadth of Ife's influence: young and old, black and white, Christian and Jewish, Brooklyn and non-Brooklyn...Ife has touched the lives of a diverse group of people.  

I'm proud to count myself among that number.  Part of what has sustained me over the nearly 20 years that I have been a part of the Center for Court Innovation is having the opportunity to work alongside people that I admire.  Ife's integrity, her strength in the face of adversity, her commitment to improving New York neighborhoods, and her willingness to laugh at herself -- these are all qualities that I strive to emulate and that have helped make the Center for Court Innovation a great place to work. 

There were lots of great moments last night: a video tribute to Ife from her daughter, proclamations from the City Council and other elected officials, etc., but my favorite was when Amy Ellenbogen told a story about Ife intervening before two rival groups of teenagers could get into a fight on the street. "Who are you?" one of the kids asked, challenging Ife's right to step in.  "I'm your mother...and your mother...and your mother..." she said, pointing to each of the potential combatants in turn.   The world would be a better place if there were more parents like Ife.