Phyllis and Dodji Gbedemah, of the Kente Royal Gallery, who encourage young local artists. (306505)

To meet reports of shootings and other street violence rising in Harlem and across New York City, more local heroes are stepping forward to answer the call. “Harlem is . . . Healing,” an effort by Community Works/New Heritage Theatre Group to celebrate individuals and agencies to bring healing to a community affected by pandemic and by issues of policing and social justice, is adding tributes to these people.

“The reports of violence and turmoil are leaving people unsettled,” said Barbara Horowitz, Community Works president and founder. “We want to recognize those that take up the cause in a variety of fields.”

The current group of honorees include Jackie Rowe-Adams, co-founder Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., an anti-gun violence group; the Rev. Al Cohen of The Community Initiative of NY, who works to bridge community-police relations; Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr. of First Corinthian Baptist Church, who is building his church as a center for community services, from food distribution to mental health and political concerns; Connie Lee, Marcus Garvey Park Alliance president and the spark behind promoting public art in Harlem’s parks; Akemi Kochiyama, writer and activist fighting against rising violence aimed at minorities, she has promoted the rights legacy of her grandmother, Yuri Kochiyama, to encourage “telling the history that we don’t teach” towards better cross-cultural understanding, Phyllis and Dodji Gbedemah of the Kente Royal Gallery who encourage young local artists.

As Jackie-Rowe Adams, who lost two sons separately to gunfire, says of her efforts: “We are a Keep It Moving group. We can cry, we can laugh, but we have to keep it moving forward. There are shootings every day, and we have to do something about it,” she explains. “We have too much gun violence, and we need to work with the police to stop it. Guns are coming into this community by the truckload, by the carload, every day.”

Building on a 20-year effort to celebrate local heroes. Community Works/New Heritage Theatre Group have posted more than 45 tributes this year about individuals and institutions from a variety backgrounds who are helping. These tributes at and and on the website are drawing widespread positive response—an indication that people are hungry for hope and appreciate work to make things better.

Voza Rivers, executive director of New Heritage Theatre Group, calls it current-day storytelling by the community itself.

For further information, contact Barbara Horowitz, founder and president, Community Works at or call 917-757-2242.