Young adults fill mental health services gap with peer mentoring

Click here to read my article published on Oakland North.

“Millennia Dunn has stylish strands of electric blue hair and black and red acrylic nails. Instead of enjoying Veteran’s Day with her friends and family, wohe 18-year-old is at a leadership regional retreat for PEERS TAY.

PEERS stands for Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services, and TAY means Transitional Age Youth (TAY), or people ages 16 through mid-20s. Typically, the health care system specializes in assisting children, adults, and elderly adults, leaving the TAY group without specialized care. The mental health services inside and outside of hospitals are not tailored to meet the special circumstances of these young adults, leaving them without proper care.

At the PEERS headquarters near the Oakland airport, Dunn and other TAY members and volunteers from southern California and San Francisco were discussing some of the issues faced by people in this age group. Among them were the names given to people suffering mental illnesses, accusations of faking emotions, and lack of mental health tools geared towards black men. After brainstorming some resolutions, the group of young men and women wrote down their practical proposals on bright-colored Post-Its that covered the walls of the conference room…”


Oakland students receive free internet access from Sprint

Click here to read my article published on Oakland North.

“‘Mom, I need your hotspot!’ Irma Avila said, mimicking her 11-year-old son Agustin Cuevas. She was laughing about how hard it is to have her kids finish their homework since they do not have Wi-Fi at home. Six of her eight kids are assigned school assignments online on a daily basis, and they all use her cellphone’s hotspot.

Avila went to the 81st Avenue branch of the Oakland Public Library on Friday to pick up free cellphone hotspot devices for each of her high school girls. She hopes this will alleviate the chaos of letting her children use her phone’s hotspot. She already divides its use into sets of 30 minutes in order to get a reasonable internet speed.

“It’s a really good opportunity for the kids,” said Avila about the event.

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Oakland non-profit Tech Exchange collaborated with the telecommunications company Sprint to give away free hotspots, smartphones, and tablets to district high school students. A hotspot is a mobile and wireless device that shares wireless internet access. The event was part of the 1Million Project run by Sprint and the Sprint Foundation, which will provide 200,000 hotspots over five years to high school students in the United States who do not have access to the internet at home…”

Oakland council passes ban on flavored tobacco sales

Click here to read my article published on Oakland North.

“In an unanimous decision, on Tuesday night the Oakland City Council voted to ban of sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, in Oakland.

According to a proposal published by the city of Oakland, the ordinance will lower tobacco use among young people and people in the African American community. The ban will prohibit retailers (as well as their agents or employees) from selling or offering to sell flavored tobacco products, such as menthols and “vaping” liquid. The ordinance will not ban the smoking or vaping of flavored tobacco products in Oakland. It will take effect in 2018.”

The Chamanas|Feel The Evolution

Click here to read my article published on Fusion Magazine.

“With great achievements and a personal loss, The Chamanas are facing 2017 with a force of inner strength and creativity. The group is made up of Paulina Reza on vocals, Alejandro Bustillos on drums, Manuel Calderón on bass and Hector Carreón on guitar.

Their upcoming album, Nea, is characterized by the tragic events the band has experienced. At the beginning of the recording process in October of 2016, Carreón’s brother, Nea, suddenly passed away…”

Photos: Darío Lizárraga

Convoca dreamer a ‘no tener miedo’

Haz click aquí para leer mi artículo publicado en El Diario de El Paso “Convoca dreamer a ‘no tener miedo‘”.

“Viridiana Villa está convencida de que si uno hace las cosas bien, no tiene nada que temer. Ese es el mensaje que guarda para sí y comparte con otros de los llamados ‘dreamers’ en estos tiempos de zozobra.

Los comentarios de la ‘dreamer’ de 27 años surgen en medio de un ambiente de temor por recientes redadas de indocumentados en todo el país, y el arresto de dos jóvenes adultos que, como ella, viven en el país sin permiso desde antes de cumplir los 16 años.

Los ‘dreamers’, personas que entraron al país a los 15 años de edad o más jóvenes y se quedaron sin autorización, desde hace varios años cuentan con la protección de la Acción Diferida para los Llegado en la Infancia (DACA) que estableció la administración de presidente Obama…”

Temen que muro demore construcción de nuevo cruce en Columbus

Haz click aquí para leer mi artículo publicado en El Diario de El Paso “Temen que muro demore construcción de nuevo cruce en Columbus“.

“Columbus, N.M. – Funcionarios locales temen que la construcción del muro que quiere construir el presidente Trump a lo largo de la frontera sur, así como el impuesto de importación para financiarlo, afecten la disponibilidad de fondos para terminar el nuevo cruce con Palomas, México.

Norma Gómez, directora de la Cámara de Comercio de Columbus, dijo que el impacto positivo inmediato que la reconstrucción del cruce trajo a Columbus es evidente, ya que  hogares circunvecinos se ocuparon por los contratistas y trabajadores de la construcción. Pero teme que la construcción del muro demore la terminación del cruce.

“Esperemos que no nos impacte en una manera muy negativa”, dijo…”

New mall to open soon next to Bruckner Boulevard

Read my article published on The Hunts Point Express.

Eateries and chain stores will dominate downscaled project

“This fall, a long-awaited retail mall is finally scheduled to open at 925 Hunts Point Avenue. The finished product will look much different than an ambitious proposal presented to Community Board 2 five years ago, which included mixed-income housing and additional parking for the traffic-clogged corner next to the Bruckner Expressway.

The rounded, gray building at the intersection of Hunts Point Avenue and East 163rd Street will be home to a Red Lobster with the capacity to serve up to 312 customers, a Deals Tree 99 cent store, a McDonald’s, a Boston Market and a Bank of America, all of which have signed leases, according to Mark Brennan, development director at Blumenfeld Development Group Ltd.

On its website, the developer touts the new space’s “high ceilings, abundant signage and secure loading,” in a two-story retail project that can accommodate 10 businesses.

The original plan for The Crossings, as the project is being called, was presented to Board 2 in 2011 by a different developer, the Prusik Group, and included 136 apartments of mixed-income housing along with a parking facility. It was emphatically approved by the board.

However, the housing component was removed from the plan due to a downturn in the market, according to the Prusik Group’s principal and owner, Rohan Mehra. The parking proposal was then removed from the plan as well.

“We worked very hard with the Borough President’s office and (The Department of Housing Preservation and Development) to try and add housing to the development and spent a lot of money on plans and consultants to that end,” said Mehra, in an email to The Express. He went on to explain that the housing part of the plan would have required the developer to purchase the vacant lot at 985 Bruckner Blvd., next to 925 Hunts Point Avenue; yet his firm was unwilling to pay what the owner of that lot was asking.

“We knew the community really wanted more housing but the property owner was intractable,” Mehra said, and added that when the housing component was scuttled, additional parking was no longer required in the scaled-down project.

Some in the neighborhood say new shops would be welcome on the site of what had previously been a BP gas station, as long as they provide products and services residents need.

“If they bring stores that we currently don’t have any of here, that would be pretty great,” said the chair of Community Board 2’s Economic Development committee, Maria Torres. However, Torres cautioned that the new developer’s choice to bring in another dollar store is of questionable value to the neighborhood.

“We don’t need another 99 cent store,” she said. “It would be great to see other options for people to be able to shop.”

Yaya Sanogo, who owns Westman Music across from the site, said he is looking forward to seeing the Red Lobster and Dunkin’ Donuts open. Those franchises are listed on a posting of future tenants outside the Crossings’ construction site.

“We can benefit because people are going to come for them, and we are going to profit, too,” said Sanogo.

William Feldman, president of the Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District, agreed that a sit down restaurant could give local businesses a boost, since it would be open late and customers who come to dine there may opt to shop locally.

“I wish they are very successful because that side of 163rd street has always been a very slow side for retailing. So if they can get that side to be more active, it would be great for the area,” said Feldman.

Rosa Sánchez, who has sold ices and other snacks from a food cart at the corner of East 163rd Street and Southern Boulevard for over a year, said she is looking forward to the diverse shopping and new customers the new businesses may bring.

“There’s only clothing shops around here. Any kind of restaurant would be nice,” Sánchez said.

But some prominent Hunts Point boosters are troubled at the dwindling of the project from a robust, multi-layered proposal to something significantly less than that, without community input. The chair of Board 2, Dr. Ian Amritt, said that both the developers and the Red Lobster representatives have been evasive about meeting with the board to discuss their progress.

“They came to us with the plan for housing, those plans changed and they’ve not come back,” said Amritt. He referred to the mid-project switch in development companies as an “entirely confusing situation.”

Feldman said new parking was a feature he had looked forward to before that part of the plan disappeared.

“I was very disappointed when I heard there was no parking. That’s something that is really needed in the area,” he said.”

Entrepreneur preaches web access for all

Click here to read my story published on the Mott Haven Herald.

“A Port Morris startup is looking to ensure that low-income Bronx households aren’t left behind by the area’s technology boom.


Neture Inc. was founded in 2014 by Marlin Jenkins, a 42-year-old Peekskill, NY native, with a guiding hand from another local business, MetaBronx, which was designed to help area startups take off. Jenkins first approached that company’s co-founder, Miguel Sanchez, with his idea two years ago.

“He came to me and wanted to give internet away for free, because a third of the Bronx doesn’t have internet at home,” said Sanchez. “So I worked with him for a few years on his idea and now we are testing the third phase of his startup.”

MetaBronx provides assistance for local minorities and women looking to launch small technology startups…”

Joe Bataan performed as part of SummerStage 2016

Click here to read my story published on the Mott Haven Herald.

“Classic salsero gets St. Mary’s Park dancing.

Some 200 people waited for hours under a light rain, for a good spot to see legendary salsero Joe Bataan perform at St. Mary’s Park on July 13th. The free concert was one of 115 being put on through the City Parks Foundation SummerStage 2016 Arts Festival.

Summerstage 2016 brought music to the Bronx throughout early July, first at Crotona Park before moving on to St. Mary’s Park on July 12, where events were staged nightly through July 17.

Sometimes I talk to the #NYPD about a recent murder, sometimes I cover #JoeBataan in South #Bronx #Journalism

A video posted by Vianey Al (@vianeyalderete) on Jul 15, 2016 at 1:00pm PDT


“I love it because it turns back my clock,” said Angela Lopez, after attending the concert with her friend Betty Soto. It wasn’t the first time the two have gone to see salsa’s most famous Filipino-American playing live in New York.

A native of Spanish Harlem, Bataan began performing in the ’60s with his band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers. In the ’70s, his famous salsoul sound and record label of the same name were established. In 1979, his rap record “Rap-O Clap-O” hit the charts in the US and Europe…”

Conjunto #SETENTA from Paris opening the stage for #JoeBataan #SummerStage16 #NYC #latinsoul

A video posted by Hunts Point Express (@huntspointnews) on Jul 13, 2016 at 5:02pm PDT