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Combining social work and community

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

Angela Hope-Weusi contributes to the community as a social worker who specifically helps the disabled. She believes that combining her passion with city and regional planning and being involved in the community makes an effective social worker.

Originally from San Francisco, Hope-Weusi moved to New York in the mid-1980s. She said that her work in service persuaded her to get into social work.

"I've always been a community volunteer," she said. "I got lucky, I say, and I ended up in the field of social work."

In 1987, she started the community-based organization, the Long Life Information and Referral Network. Based in Brooklyn, the organization helps people with disabilities live independent lives.

One of the bigger projects Hope-Weusi has worked on is Wazobia House. The facility, built from scratch, is supported housing that contains 41 studio apartments for people with disabilities. It opened last year.

However, Hope-Weusi's work goes far beyond helping those with disabilities. One of her biggest successes was guiding tenants of two HUD-assisted housing developments in Brooklyn. Her efforts resulted in getting rid of an exploitive landlord and obtaining $50 million in renovations for the 475 units.

Helping out the unemployed, Hope-Wesui also helped create the employment support program Worklink Employment Services. Worklink helps all types of people find jobs, including those with disabilities

"The work is challenging, but it's something that is necessary in order to help people live their lives to the fullest," she said. "It's work that I would do whether I got paid or not. It's a wonderful thing to be employed for something that you have a passion for."

Hope- Weusi is also contributing to the community in the form of art. Her latest venture is the co-creation of Synergy, a cultural collective for social change. Synergy operates in a 3,000-square-foot space on Fulton Street in Brooklyn and is home to the Kalahari Art Gallery, a space where local artists can exhibit their work.

Synergy also offers a performance space called For My Sweetheart, where patrons can buy chocolate confections and handmade jewelry. Hope-Weusi is planning to open the Synergy Space Restaurant in spring 2011.

She said, "I think that having done this work, you can see lives changing. I've been put into a position that combines community economic development and social work together."

Hope-Weusi is married to famed activist Jitu Weusi. The two have been together for the last 20 years and she is stepmother to eight children. She's recently been active with the newly formed Freedom Party, started by City Council Member and gubernatorial candidate Charles Barron.

"Being in Jitu's zone has been a catalyst for much of my accomplishments," she said. "We have been in a wide rage of community activities, the most recent being the creation of the Freedom Party."

In her spare time, Hope-Weusi enjoys traveling to Africa and boating. She is a member of the Breezy Point Yacht Club and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. For more information email A.WEUSI@ATT.NET