SNUG Program to arrive in Soundview

(Clockwise) Bilroy Jackson, outreach worker; Erika Mendelsohn, program director; Dr. Noe Romo, medical director; Roberto Rodriguez, outreach supervisor; Edwin Mendoza, outreach worker; Darius Covington, outreach worker; and Mervin Moore, hospital responder. Not pictured: Pastor Jay Gooding, director of community outreach.
Photo courtesy of Erika Mendelsohn

A violence prevention program based out of Jacobi Medical Center is seeking to cure violence plaguing the Soundview neighborhood, but they needed help.

To do this, Stand Up to Violence reached out to Senator Jeff Klein for additional funding. The senator has allocated $300,000 toward this program’s expansion as part of last year’s budget.

Adding to this is the Request For Proposal SNUG applied for in 2013 initially to receive grant monies for the program. They are expected to expand into Soundview this spring.

“Three years ago, when I first introduced the SUV Program here in the Bronx, we were facing an epidemic of violence in our streets, our backyards and our communities,” said Senator Klein.

“In this short period of time, the SUV program has made a significant impact on the community and reduced the incidence of shootings by approximately 40% in targeted areas. Now, with its expansion into Soundview, we have the opportunity to save more lives and the chance to spread the message to at-risk teens that guns and gang violence do not need to be a way of life,” the senator added.

John Doyle, Jacobi Medical Center public affairs director, revealed that SNUG is the first of its kind in the east coast to be based out of a hospital. He added that Jacobi Hospital is the ‘number one’ trauma center for the borough and southern Westchester as well as the only one which handles pediatric patients.

“Adding the hospital component to our program helps expand its reach as it allows us to have instant access to treating high-risk victims of violent and sometimes gang-related crimes. We want to reach them during this time in order to prevent any form of retaliation from occurring by the victim or his or her family,” Erica Mendelsohn, SUV Program director and licensed social worker explained.

According to Mendelsohn, the Jacobi Hospital chapter of SNUG began last August and has five credible messengers, former gang members serving as mentors to victims of violent and gang-related crimes.

These messengers know which people are at higher risk and how to work with them on peacefully resolving conflicts.

If you are a Soundview resident and are interested in applying for a credible messenger position, email your resume to

When violence occurs in the community, SNUG’s violence interrupters venture into the neighborhood to prevent retaliation by using their mediation training and listening to what people have to say.

Doyle explained that SNUG choose a ‘target area’ based on four criterion such as how many shootings have occurred in the last seven years, how many men ages 13 through 40 are out of the workforce, how high is the poverty rate, and how many children were born out of wedlock.

“Gangs feed off of that ‘family mentality’ and they thrive in areas which fit these conditions,” Doyle said.

According to Doyle, the SNUG Program took inspiration from the Cure Violence Health model which originated in Chicago.

“We’re trying to look at violence as a disease and go about effectively curing it. We’ve been able to decrease shootings in the community by about 35% and patients who followed-up after their discharge haven’t been injured since they first arrived here,” Dr. Noe Romo, Stand Up To Violence at Jacobi Hospital medical director explained. “Our primary goals are meant to prevent injury, victimization, and incarceration from ever happening.”

Mendelsohn added that SNUG engages the larger community through monthly events such as discussions and response vigils, rallies, and marches following 72 hours after a shooting.

To stay informed, visit their Facebook page Bronx SUV – Stand Up To Violence or contact Mendelsohn at (718) 975-6312.

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