As one of Community Board 14's (CB14) members at large, Mohammad Razvi hopes to bring more focus on issues affecting the region's youth.
Ravzi is the executive director for the non-profit Council of People's Organization (COPO) which promotes the legal rights of Asian immigrants in Brooklyn, primarily those from South Asia. He sat down in the group's offices overlooking Coney Island Avenue to talk about what he wants to bring to CB14 and his group's own goals.
He said running for CB14 was originally an idea that was brought to him.
"First of all, somebody asked me to. They were asking me, 'You have to because the works that you're doing can really impact the work that we're doing,'" he said.
"Most importantly I work with the youths tremendously here. We have the youth program where we give the neighborhood kids a place to play, a 10,000-square-foot back yard — donated by our neighbors, our Italian paisans — so the kids get a place to play in a safe environment. And they also do community service," he said.
"They remove graffiti in the neighborhood. And they also help to put together a wonderful kind of event that we do annually which is the Muslim Youth Career Day with law enforcement with city, state and federal agencies. And we work across the board in other neighborhoods."
"And building relationships is one of the key things that we do amongst the community. Whether it's the Jewish community, the Christian community or the Muslim community, building understanding and collaboratives amongst them."
"Especially during times of unease, when tensions arrive because of things that are happening," he said. "Quite frankly things that happen abroad sometimes affect us here tremendously."
"Especially Community Board 14. We live side-by-side with our Christian and Jewish fellows in the Muslim community here."
He said that by working on CB14 he wants to bring COPO's interest in local youths to the board.
"What I look forward to doing as a member-at-large, I want to focus on getting more of our board members involved in the youth initiatives that we have."
On May 2 CB14 will be holding its Fifth Annual Youth Conference at the Brooklyn College Student Center to recruit those aged 12-19 for jobs, internships and volunteer positions. More information is available at http://cb14brooklyn.com/youth.
But Razvi is aware that not everyone who could benefit from these programs is able to for various reasons. To do so, COPO needs to solve some key issues.
"Kids who didn't participate in that program, how do you reach to them? Or kids who did come there but were not able to have an internship, or they weren't able to be placed for the summer. So what should we do next for those particular kids?"
He feels there are two main problems.
"Most importantly if an organization only has 10 positions for youth internships because of their resources, that's where it's going to stay. On the other hand, the kids who were not able to participate because perhaps they didn't know about it. It could be multiple things. Five hundred kids is really not much."
"But the fact of the matter is I want to not just hold one event. And I'm modeling according to the way we're doing it in our organization. So it's not just the event alone, it's building up to the event, the kids participate in things."
"Like the graffiti removal program. I know for one thing the kids who go through that program I don't think they're ever going to graffiti any building. More importantly, they feel 'This is my neighborhood, I want to keep it clean.'"
"Take it to the next step. Would they do a community service also, for example, now we're working with seniors, helping the elderly."
"So the youth generation and the older generation are trying to bridge a gap."