Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just for One Day


This week is all about Red Hook.  As I got on the subway this morning, I was handed a copy of Metro New York, the free paper for subway riders.  Today's cover story: "Red Hook Community Justice Center Delivers Solutions In Lieu of Judgement."  A nice read on my morning commute.

I was taking the train to east midtown to attend the Robin Hood Foundation's annual Heroes Breakfast. Alongside several other impressive organizations (Hometown Heroes, Success Academy Charter Schools, the Restaurant Opportunity Center), the Red Hook Community Justice Center was honored for its efforts to change the lives of criminal defendants.  Judge Alex Calabrese spoke eloquently about how Red Hook's approach differs from standard operating procedure in the courts, saying that it was his goal to send kids in Red Hook to college instead of jail.

Judge Calabrese was joined on the podium by Tina Dixons, a former client who spoke about how she got her life together after decades of abuse and addiction.  It was one of those "you-could-hear-a-pin-drop" speeches -- hundreds of business leaders on the edge of their seats listening to Tina talk about how she triumphed over adversity.  I already know her story and I was moved.  I can only imagine how it must have felt to hear her for the first time.  Tina ended on a real grace note, encouraging her audience to pause every day to savor the beauty of life.  She received one of the heartiest and most well-deserved standing ovations I've ever seen.

For more on Tina and the Red Hook Community Justice Center, it is worth taking a look at this video, which Robin Hood made as part of the Heroes breakfast.