By Jaime DeJesus
It was a special day for UPROSE as the nonprofit celebrated its 50th anniversary in style. Staffers, volunteers, neighbors, elected officials and supporters from other organizations attended the event at BRIC Arts Media, 647 Fulton Street on Friday, September 30.
“It was a success that went beyond our expectation,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre. “People came from everywhere, such as Washington D.C., Vermont and Rhode Island. Everyone from all walks of life showed their love and support. The staff and volunteers were very excited.”
Approximately 300 people were in attendance at the event, which was hosted by Jeanine Ramirez of NY1 News with performances by Climbing PoeTree as well as Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde. Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senators Jesse Hamilton and Velmanette Montgomery, and a rep for Congressmember Nydia Velazquez were also in attendance to hand out certificates.
UPROSE, considered to be Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization, focuses on activism and community organizing in Sunset Park, as well as other parts of Brooklyn. It is currently an environmental and social justice organization.
“I think we’ve become recognized as a little organization that’s really impactful and has created a model that can be used in other places,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time and have received a lot of support.”
UPROSE also plays an integral part in the Climate Justice Alliance.
For Yeampierre and the organization, it was a celebration of the various highlights over the decades. “We worked on the Fourth Avenue medians and the dangers they brought,” she said. “Elders told us that they wanted it to be safer so we started the process of getting the mediums expanded and made safer. We are still working with DOT. A lot of what we do has been in direct response to community mandate,” she added.
According to UPROSE, the group also aided in stopping the siting of a fourth power plant in Sunset, as well as in bringing back the B37 bus after that line was cut by the MTA, and was instrumental in the opening of Bush Terminal Park as an added green space for the community.
Yeampierre joined UPROSE 20 yearsago, at a time when the organization was struggling and Sunset residents had many environmental concerns. “It had lost most of its funding when I came in and it almost ceased to exist,” she said. “I took it on as a labor on love with a low salary. And so to be here 20 years later, and to see how far we come with the community and with the folks of Sunset Park, is special. It doesn’t happen without the community. One person can’t do it alone. We need neighbors coming with recommendations on how things can be done better.”