After the murder of her son, Joanne Cicero has found peace in helping crime victims.
Cicero knows all too well the pain and loss associated with crime.
Her 17-year-old son, Paul Cicero Jr., was stabbed to death on June 20, 1995 on Hering Avenue, as part of a meaningless dispute with a ruthless gang.
The Indian Village resident has since dedicated her life to helping those who have become victims of abuse and crime through an organization she founded called Crime Vicitims Support Services of the North Bronx.
The organization provides counseling and emergency services to victims of all kinds of crime and abuse. Victims of crime are referred to the program through police precincts in the area and the medical examiners office.
Cicero, executive director of the organization, said she opened the Neill Avenue office in 2005 after North Bronx -Westchester Neighborhood Restoration Association, a similar crime victims support program she was involved with, lost its state funding.
Cicero said she ran a local assistance program for crime victims as an outgrowth of other programs already operated through the NBWNRA.
“I didn’t want to give up this program, so I went and got my 501-c3, and I changed the name and this is mine now,” Cicero said.
This year, the organization will host its first Paul Cicero Jr. Memorial Fundraiser, a bingo game, to help increase the program’s dwindling funds.
“We desperately need money,” she said. “We are funded through the federal government filtered down through the state, but we also need matching money. We have to match like $35,000. It’s going to be a struggle.”
Cicero said this is the first year the program has needed to hold a fundraiser.
“We do get donations, but we usually get them from the state legislature,” Cicero said. “But this year, they have no money to give us.”
The fundraiser will be held on Friday, May 3 at the Morris Park Community Association, at 1824 Bronxdale Avenue from 7-10 p.m.
Admission is $10 per person and includes one bingo card, a goodie bag, one free ticket for a door prize drawing and complimentary coffee and cake.
Cicero said the organization, which has helped 400 victims over the past year is an important part of the community.
“This makes me feel good that I can help people,” Cicero said. “When they come in here, I can tell them I know exactly how you feel.”
For tickets and donations call Joanne Cicero at Crime Victims Support Services: (718) 823-4925. Tickets must be bought in advance.
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394