An east Bronx community that lacked a civic organization now has a strong one.
The community organization, founded in 2014 after a string of car break-ins, has blossomed into a fixture of civic involvement in Williamsbridge, working closely with the 47th and 49th precincts to combat crime and address quality-of-life concerns.
Gun Hill Road Civic Group, Inc. founder and president Sharon Fleishacker said that the organization was launched after her car was broken into while it was parked in her driveway.
Though around 15 of her neighbors had the same thing happen, the 47th Precinct received hardly any reports of the thefts, and did not see the pattern, said the civic association president.
Cops at the precinct urged her to call a community meeting, said Fleishacker. She went door-to-door to announce the meeting and a large crowd showed up. This was the encouragement she was looking to get.
“I was told that I would be lucky if five people showed up, but about 40 people showed up,” she said.
The organization’s meetings, which can sometimes top 70 attendees, take place every second Tuesday of the month in space donated by the Power of Faith Ministries at 976 E. Gun Hill Road, said Fleishacker.
The reach of the organization is large, running the length of East Gun Hill Road between Bronx Park East and I- 95, said Fleishacker.
“It is about bringing the community together,” she said, adding that besides crime, the overwhelming concerns are housing and general safety issues.
Fleishacker, a health insurance broker, grew up in Williamsbridge.
Unfortunately, being a crime victim at least twice drove her to start the organization, said Fleishacker.
When she was a child, five men broke into her home, she said, and the people she knows have had all types of crime-related experiences.
She said that her experiences with crime are certainly not unique in the her community, but the goal of the organization is to bring the community together with the police and the NYC Fire Department, who are at every meeting.
“It is about taking your neighborhood back, securing what you have and bringing people together,” she said, adding that the gatherings serve as encouragement for people to work with police and report crime, and serve as networking events.
Fleishacker said that many people have helped her structure the organization, including Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president, who she calls a mentor.
Thompson said that the vast majority of residents in the community are good, law-abiding people and in Fleishacker they have found someone determined to make a difference.
“People have to know that there are others with like minds in the community,” said Thompson. “Sharon has done an excellent job of bringing people in the community together.”
The GHRCA’s main objective is to clean up the area, said Thompson, adding that the organization has reached out to former gang members from the 1970s in an effort to steer youth on the right track.
People in the group seem energized not just to talk about community issues, but to take the next step towards action, said Thompson.