39° Good Afternoon
39° Good Afternoon

Brooklyn women recognized for public service in anti-recidivism, urban farming

One of the women works with formerly incarcerated men to help prevent repeat offenses.

Denise Cosom of East New York was one

Denise Cosom of East New York was one of the recipients of an award for her public service Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo Credit: Denise Cosom

Two Brooklyn women were recognized for their public service Monday night, one for her efforts to prevent recidivism among young men and the other for her dedication to providing fresh produce for communities in need.

Denise Cosom, the founder of the Young Gents Society, which mentors formerly incarcerated young men, and Brenda Duchene, the founder of the Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation, which runs community gardens in East New York and Brownsville that provide affordable access to produce, were given the Marietta Tree Award for Public Service from the Citizens Committee for New York City.

Citizens Committee works with community groups across the city, most run by volunteers, to help them improve their neighborhoods. Both Cosom, of East New York, and Duchene, of Brownsville, were among the Citizens Committee grant recipients in 2017 and have received several grants in the past.

“We think that both programs are very important in New York,” the CEO of Citizens Committee Peter Kostmayer said.

Cosom, 55, started Young Gents Society in 2004 after meeting a young man who had just aged out of the juvenile justice system, which she said failed to monitor his education or give him skills for an independent life.

Since then, she has organized workshops for other young men who were incarcerated or who are at risk of being involved with the juvenile justice system to help them improve their interpersonal skills and remind them of their self-worth. Her goal is to be able to provide men returning from prison with housing.

“They need structure,” she said, explaining that without support, they are more likely to be repeat offenders.

Cosom said she was excited to be recognized for her work by the Citizens Committee, “knowing that the work that I’m doing . . . it hasn’t been in vain,.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos