A Note from Defeat the Streets Founder, Deborah Tomasi...
I’m a city girl at heart and there is no disputing that fact. I grew up at the northern tip of Manhattan in an eclectic little community called Inwood abutting the Hudson River and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge (Dutch for “in spite of the devil”!). We were surrounded by parks and flanked by Columbia University’s athletic facilities on the north end and the Cloisters on the south just on the border of the neighboring enclave of Washington Heights.
My sister Maria and I along with a diverse pack of friends, Victor, Hugh, Krishna, Hector, Troy, Bessie, just to name a few, hung out in Inwood Hill Park. We played tennis and touch football and explored the Indian caves in the woods. We frequented Kings Pizza, Francesca’s Ice Cream Parlor and The Last Stop Bar. We bowled at Academy Lanes and saw movies at the Alpine Theater on Dyckman St. And all that was a walk away! We hopped on the local A or 1 train to ‘downtown’ Manhattan (well everything was downtown to us) and took advantage of plays, restaurants, museums and of course, dance clubs. Reminiscing on my childhood haunts always makes me a little melancholy for the freedom of my youth in the greatest city in the world, but I also came to realize that NYC wasn’t always great for everyone.
I remember Circle’s. This was the nickname someone in our community appointed the homeless gentleman who spent hours walking round and round in a small circle having lively conversations with himself on the corner of 207th St. and Broadway. Circle’s had a profound impact on me. It was the first time my heartstrings were pulled in a real, tangible way. I understood that this was not someone to make fun of or make off-hand remarks about…the way the reckless ignorance of youth propels everyone to do sometimes…and I was mindful to ensure my band of friends were held in check in that regard. I understood that this was a real person who had a real name, despite the fact we didn’t know it, and I understood he needed help. I took note of the kindness shown to Circle’s by the local shop owners who fed him and the neighborhood people who would press a dollar bill into his hand. It struck a somber cord in me when one day suddenly Circles was gone, never to return.
That early experience planted a seed and a growing sense of awareness which has germinated for several decades until finally in 2015 Defeat the Streets was borne. It’s time to give something back to the city which helped shape everything about me. Defeat the Streets is all about nourishing the heart and soul of NYC, the people and their communities. It’s about providing resources and support in a defined way that brings a positive impact to human beings in need. It’s about making NYC better for everyone.
Defeat the Streets has a wonderful, talented, high caliber team of Directors whose energy, focus and generosity of time and spirit is the stuff charitable dreams are made of! When a team has this wonderful combination of good chemistry and mutual respect – magic happens. Working collaboratively with this group is my sincere privilege.
On behalf of The Executive Team, we welcome you to join our worthy mission!