Nineteen years ago, there was a pothole on Yvette Barrow’s block in East Flatbush. Every time cars and trucks would pass her house, it would shake. Fed up with the lack of action from the city, Barrow decided to start a community group to help solve the problems she and her neighbors were facing. In 2004, Citizens for a Better Community was formed unofficially, and over the years, it evolved into a structured community action group.
Like many other community groups, they took a few years off due to COVID-19, but after a three-year hiatus, they are back. On Saturday, August 12th, they held their Annual Family Day in Paerdegat Park, located at Farragut Road and Albany Avenue. Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman teamed up with the group, and this is the fifth year that East Flatbush Village, Inc. played a role in organizing the event as well.
Barrow and other leaders of Citizens for a Better Community chose Paerdegat Park to host their Annual Family Day because they wanted all the neighborhoods that share the park to come together. Unlike most events today, the group has no social media presence or website. Volunteers went door-to-door, handing out flyers to promote the event. The park was filled with children, artists, small business owners and families who live in the community, all through word of mouth.
Eric Waterman, the executive director of East Flatbush Village, partners with Citizens for a Better Community for year-round activities. Some of their programs include after-school activities, mentorships, anti-gang and anti-violence marches, and gun violence initiatives. Currently, they are in need of daytime volunteers to help with the youth food bank, and the center needs assistance while students are in school.
Performances included The Pulsating Steel Band, Tassa Drummers, Sesame Flyers (a Trinidadian folk dance group), several Caribbean DJs and a live band performance. As the Sesame Flyers took the stage, they were excited to share their country’s rich heritage. The dance group has been together for several years and performs across New York City.
Nonprofits like the Lions Gate hosted a table to share their community work.
After 19 years of hard work and dedication, the Family Day is just a highlight of the work that Citizens for a Better Community do in the community. Barrow says the group has a scholarship fund for students in the community, and they are always looking for ways to grow and build.