A Dream Grows In Brooklyn

Brooklyn, N.Y. Few figures in Brooklyn’s business, political and philanthropic communities can bring adiverse group of professionals together for a worthy cause, year after year. DeCosta Headley Sr. is one of those rare, powerful individuals who never ceases to amaze me.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.02.24 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc. (L); Mitchell Teller (R),  Administrator at Hillside Manor Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center.

His non-profit organization, Dream Foundation held its first annual gala recently in Brooklyn. High- profile supporters came out in large numbers to network and contribute to the community causes Headley spearheads. After more than 40 years of serving the community, ‘The Friends of DeCosta Headley’ transitioned its community-based supportive services programs to a new philanthropic entity named ‘Developing Restoring Enriching Advancing Many Foundation, Inc.’ (‘D.R.E.A.M. Foundation’).This new 501(c) (3), tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization is destined to be the vehicle to take its many long-standing assistance programs benefiting communities to greater heights.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.09.39 PMGeorge Hulse, VP for External Affairs–HealthFirst accepting on behalf of Susan Beane, MD–VP, Medical Director of HealthFirst (L); DeCosta Headley, Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc. (R).

With help of many philanthropists—within the community and other interested parties—they have brought services to the poor and disenfranchised people and groups (singularly and with other community-based organizations), including The Hunger Program feeding between 15 – 20,000 community persons in annual food donations as well as senior and community events; Annual Pre- thanksgiving dinner and Turkey Drives; Health Programs including Health fairs, Work with various health care providers for children with special needs and senior citizens; Educational programs providing scholarships sending youth to college as well as providing college tours to campuses around the country. Training programs offering On-the-job training. This involves employee training at the place of work, Introduction of Inner City Youth to Summer Camps sending girls aged 8-12 years and boys 8-15 years to summer camps Career Awareness Program (CAP/Camp Mariah) for children currently in the 6th grade. Both programs are in in cooperation with the Fresh Air Fund; Housing assistance programs, Job placement programs, and Annual holiday toy and food distributions, among other works.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.22.55 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc. (L); Candida Brooks-Harrison (C), President– New York City Chapter, National Association of Social Workers; Charles E. Simpson, Esq. (R), Vice Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.26.46 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L); Renee R. Gregory, Esq. (C), First Assistant District Attorney– Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office; Charles E. Simpson, Esq. (R), Vice Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.

On the festive occasion for the Dream Foundation, catered at El Caribe, DeCosta honored a number of individuals for their contributions. The honorees included Dr. Susan Beane received the Excellence in Management in Strategic Initiatives, Rev. Kim Best received DeCosta Headley”s Community Leadership Award, Candida Brooks-Harrison received the Dorothy Irene Height Memorial Award, Laray Brown received the Healthcare Woman Icon Award, Century Medical and Dental received the Innovation in Health Care Delivery Award, Dr. Chemi Chudi received the Outstanding Medical Group Executive Award, Steve Deluca received the Public Spirited Award, Gloria Dent received the Excellence in Clinical Nutrition Practice Award, Renee Gregory received the Excellence in Justice and Law Enforcement Award, Diane Porter the Humanitarian Award, Christopher Roker the Administrative Excellence in Healthcare Award, Mitchell Teller the Distinguished Service Nursing Home Administration Award, Henna White the Transformative Leadership in Healthcare Award.

Mr. Headley’s passion and commitment for community empowerment as an advocate and a representative of community residents remains undaunted. Through D.R.E.A.M., whose mission is to restore communities through economic empowerment; enrich and empower lives through financial literacy; make individuals and communities viable through health and wellness initiatives; advance cooperative partnerships to sustain communities and their residents, and; develop leaders to build generations to come, he will continue to advance that passion and commitment

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.21.19 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L) ; Chudi Chemi, MD (C); Hillside Polymedic Diagnostic & Treatment Center; Charles E. Simpson, Esq. (R), Vice Chairperson–D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.

IMG_9024

DeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L); Sharonnie Perry (C), Director of Community Affairs –Interfaith Medical Center on behalf of Cannon Diane Porter, President – IM Foundation; Charles E. Simpson, Esq. (R), Vice Chairperson– D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.

A Brooklyn native, Headley grew up in the gang-ridden neighborhood of Brownsville. DeCosta, 72, was reared in a family of modest means, but navigated his way to college, graduating with a degree in behavioral science from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. He spent several years as a social worker, and in the late 1970s became the executive director of numerous group homes for troubled adolescents and established the Federation of Addiction Agencies in East New York and Brownsville.

Indeed, many of the judges serving in New York’s court system, state legislators and city council members owe a debt of gratitude to Headley’s grassroots organizing. He served as a district leader for the 40th Assembly District in East New York for sixteen years and played an active role in Brooklyn’s political landscape. He successfully operated a number of political campaigns for candidates seeking seats in the city, state, and federal government. At the same time, he has trained hundreds of community residents interested in serving on campaigns.

IMG_9034

DeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M Foundation, Inc.(L); Mr. Christopher Roker (C); Chief Executive Officer, New York City Health and Hospitals/Queens Hospital Center; Anthony Andrews, Ph.D.–York College, CUNY

IMG_9042

DeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L); Kim Best, Ph.D. (R) – Chairperson, The Brooklyn HospitalCenter’s Community Advisory Board

As an entrepreneur, Headley owned and operated a successful contracting firm, Diversified Inch By Inch. He rehabilitated poor communities within the five boroughs, built local medical and dental facilities, and constructed new housing, including a multi-level senior citizens apartment complex for Berean Missionary Baptist Church.

I asked DeCosta what message was the most important to deliver to my readers. He told me:

“On behalf of the D.R.E.A.M. Foundation and its Board of Directors, I want to thank everyone who joined us at our First Annual Fundraising Gala. I am also humbled by the contribution of our sponsors. Their support has been a gift and is greatly appreciated. And finally, a special thank you to my staff who worked hard to make this gala a success. We could not have had a successful event without the support of every one of you.”

IMG_9047

DeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M Foundation, Inc.(L); Gloria Bent, (R) –Registered Dietitian at N. Central Bronx Hospital

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.40.25 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L); Mr. Steve Deluca – (R) Senior VP & Chief Risk Officer, Interfaith Medical Center on behalf of LaRay Brown, CEO, Interfaith Medical Center & One Brooklyn Health System

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 3.40.32 PMDeCosta Headley, Chairperson-D.R.E.A.M. Foundation, Inc.(L); Mr. Steve Deluca – (R) Senior VP & Chief Risk Officer, Interfaith Medical Center & One Brooklyn Health Center

About Lorraine Silvetz, MSW

View all posts by Lorraine Silvetz, MSW
Lorraine Silvetz, MSW
Lorraine Silvetz is a trained Psychotherapist with a Master’s Degree of Social Work from New York University specializing in the treatment of returning veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and suicidal ideation. Lorraine now serves as Director at iSynchrony Clinic in Oakton, Virginia The clinic offers individualized transcranial magnetic stimulation (iTMS) for the treatment of PTSD and TBI. Earning a film degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts helped Lorraine contribute to a creative approach to advocacy in the world of mental health.