The latest New Yorker of the Week, Andre Mitchell, leads a group in the East New York area of Brooklyn dedicated to stopping violence before it begins, in more ways than one. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.
For the past ten years, Andre Mitchell has been looking out for his Brooklyn neighborhood.
"I feel like when I get in my car and I begin to come into the community that I'm at work at that very moment, because I'm on watch," Mitchell says. "I'm looking out for the children on their way to school, people on their way to work. I'm just always on alert."
He is the founder of Man Up!, Incorporated. It began as part of an effort to reduce gun violence in East New York. It now does much more.
"We like to call ourselves a multi-purpose center. We've been running after-school programs and services. This is our 10th summer day program. We have an athletic department. We have a job development center," Mitchell says.
This month, the group celebrated 365 days without a single shooting in a 20-block area where Man Up! has so-called violence interrupters mediate conflicts. Three hundred-sixty five balloons marked the special day.
"East New York is on the rise and Andre Mitchell and Man Up! are responsible for that," Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron said at the event.
Two days after the celebration, the year-long peace was broken by a shooting near a neighborhood school. It empowered Mitchell to do even more.
"We're here because we're from here and we want to be a beacon. We want to have our doors open," Mitchell says. "Our doors are open longer than some of the stores in this neighborhood, because we want people to know they can call on us at any given hour."
Mitchell's message is resonating.
"You can't change everybody and I can't expect him to change everybody, but as long as you have a program where the structure is everything is positive, this business does not take anything from us, it's giving us," says Juan Rivera, a Man Up! volunteer. "That right there shows me a lot that he's really for the community."
"So much more good is coming to East New York," says Mitchell. And Man Up! is leading the way.
So, for dedicating his time to making his neighborhood a safer place, Andre Mitchell is the latest New Yorker of the Week.
For more information on Man Up!