Matthew Okebiyi, Founder and Executive Director of the African American Planning Commission, recently received a US Congressional Award bestowed upon him by retiring U.S. Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns at the 2012 Awards Gala hosted by the Men’s Caucus for Congressman Edolphus Towns on June 18th, 2012, at Fleur De Lis.
The Congressional Award is an award established by the United States Congress to recognize initiative, service and achievement in individuals. It is non-partisan.
Okebiyi, along with a group of other honorees including Misba Addin, Kenneth Farrell, Matthew Huggins, Rev. Paul Mitchell, Arthur Molinelli, Leo Morris, Tremaine Prince, Gus Quinones, Dr. Ramanathan Raju, David Shelbnorne, Dr. Harold Simon, Dr. Swamy Sunkara, Monica L. Thomas and Tommy Merriweather, was recognized for his outstanding dedication to community service and for the establishment of the African American Planning Commission, a not-for-profit organization committed to addressing homelessness and the related issues of domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, shortage of affordable housing, and unemployment in New York City.
The African American Planning Commissioin operates the Serenity House Family Residence, the largest transitional Tier II domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, New York. The mission of Serenity House is to offer survivors and their minor children, a safe but temporary haven in which to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. The secondary goal of Serenity House is to prepare families for independent living, assist them in locating permanent housing within or outside the State of New York, and to offer a host of on- and off-site supportive services that help empower victims and minimize the root causes of domestic violence.
Serenity House offers survivors of domestic violence (regardless of gender, race, culture, religion, ethnic background, or sexual preference) the opportunity to reside in a secured environment for up to six months or more, as needed. The program is culturally sensitive to allow families to feel immediately at home and to foster ethnic pride in children and family members. Serenity House is able to accommodate families including those with adolescent males. Serenity House is one of the very few transitional Tier II domestic violnce shelters in New York that will accept a male head-of-household for residency. On site services include case management, referral to mental health programs, onsite child and infant care programs, job preparedness training, computer literacy, After-school programs, housing placement assistance, money management classes, financial empowerment, and much more.
“Matthew has been a phenominal and tireless advocate for services that make a profound difference in the lives of those served and the community,” said Walter Campbell, President, Congressman Towns Men’s Caucus, who introduced Mr. Okebiyi to the gathering. “I am honored to present this award to Matthew Okebiyi. He is extremely deserving of this particular honor.” said Congressman Towns as he read the inscription on the award and presented it to Mr. Okebiyi.
Okebiyi conceived of the African American Planning Commission in 1994, and has been serving as its Executive Director ever since.
Other projects on the horizon for the Commission include rental and supportive housing for low-income single adults living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and recovering from substance abuse. Some of the units in the building shall be earmarked for homeless vets and community residents. There are also plans on the table to develop senior housing, low and moderate-income housing, and a group home for youths.
AAPCI is a registered 501.c.3 not-for-profit organization. All cash donations are fully tax-deductible to the extent permissable by US tax-laws.
Below are some pictures taken at the event.