Blog post

Nevaehs Journey

I have been attending Bailey’s Cafe for over 7 years now. I will say that every summer was a new chance to connect with other people, as well as yourself. This will allow you to meet new people and make connections within whatever industry you are looking to go into.

This summer at Baileys (2022) is different from the previous years. We have smaller numbers but we have more options to explore with it being smaller and this makes it more intimate. They tried something this year called “what’s in your hands” . This saying makes you think about what you can do in life, what you do now, and how you help yourself.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that I wasn’t expecting to like this summer because it was so different. However I’ve learned that my hands can help my community, my hands can make jewelry, my hands can embroider, my hands can help me reach my goals, my hands hold my future.
Personally I am a huge fan of Wednesday afternoons with yoga and writing right after eachother. You wouldn’t think that yoga and writing would fit in the “what’s in your hands” theme this year but it does. Yoga helps you realize the balance is being held in your hands and with your strength. The writing makes you realize that a pen is one of the strongest things you can hold and has a way of controlling others and your emotions.
Baileys has always been the place where you can go to learn, have a second home, and to laugh all in one. All of the problems of the outside world get left at the door and you enter a whole new world and it’s a world that I will continue to come to year after year.

How Baileys changed the way I see myself and my hair
My hair has always been a problem in my eyes. I never wore it in its natural state since I was in elementary school and my mom would do my hair. I would cover it with braids, twists, or any style to where I didn’t have to deal with it.

In February of this year I started to remember some of the important lessons that Bailey’s Cafe has given me in all of my years of going there. These lessons were to show yourself more love.To be comfortable in who you are and to “take up space” whether that be literally or figuratively. So this led me to forcing myself to learn to do my hair.

It was a hard start; I would do braid outs, twist outs, and blow drying my hair to make it look longer in the state it was in. When march hit I realized I wasn’t really learning to love my hair. I was learning to love someone else’s hair and curl pattern but I remembered the people at baileys who wore their natural hair openly and lovingly with all the curls and coils that they may retain. These people are Myra, Pia, and Britney; their love for their hair helped me learn to love mine in whatever state whether it’s wet, dry, or in the middle.

I can always look at Baileys to see the lessons I’ve learned through time that may not be applied at the time of learning but I have always noticed it’s there when you need it the most.

Read more

A Family of Friends by Zevediah E.

A Family of Friends

One thing that keeps bringing me back to Baileys is that it is a safe space and the feeling of inclusivity allows me to celebrate the unique way I was created, instead of hiding my true self.

Zevediah E.

It was the summer before I entered high school that my mom enrolled me into Baileys because she thought it’ll be a good opportunity to meet people. That was in 2016 and I’ve been a part of Bailey’s Cafe’s six-week summer program ever since. One thing that keeps bringing me back to Baileys is that it is a safe space and the feeling of inclusivity allows me to celebrate the unique way I was created, instead of hiding my true self.


One of my favorite parts of Baileys this summer was going to the garden with Mr. Brian. During Tuesday mornings, Jeremy and I (later Shelby would join us) walked to the garden on 95 Malcolm X between Greene and Lexington. While there, we worked with Mr. Brian and other youth from a different organization. I learned so much during this time about gardening, how to cultivate crops, and how to give back to the community.

The first day we watered the plants and cleaned the streets nearby and around the garden. The fruits, vegetables and herbs that Mr Brain grows in his garden included eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers, thyme, kale, chocolate and many different types of mints. Mr. Brian grows food in his garden with the purpose to distribute the fresh food to the people in the community that are in need, which is important because of the high percentage of food insecurity in the neighborhood.



On Tuesday afternoon, there is gender studies. Gender studies is a workshop dedicated to studying our gender and the roles that are placed on us in society. While the girls go to the church, the guy group stays behind and has a series of discussions. As a young man who’s having to navigate the world without a father figure, it can be challenging at times because there are a lot of things I’m clueless about. Yeah, I can always ask my mother, but as a woman she can only understand so much when it comes to a guy’s perspective. Kadeem, is a great lead male facilitator. I feel like I have a safe space to talk about and ask questions to another man without judgment. We learn about relationships and how to be respectful to women and not rude. This summer Mr Sweat joined our sessions. He teaches us important information about manhood and the real world, like how to communicate with new people we meet. For instance, Jeremy is a new participant at Bailey’s, this is just his second year. He’s very smart and reminds me of me because he does not have many friends and gets bullied. I feel like I’m a good influence on Jeremy, because I can understand his situation of getting bullied. As someone who is different and has health issues, I also don’t have many friends and was bullied a lot in school too. So, I can relate to his situation.

I have also found a good friend in Osei, who joined Bailey’s while I was already a part of it in 2018. He is really somebody who I’ve grown close to over the years. We are not just participants in a summer program, but more like a family now.



Bailey’s Cafe is like a family to me. Ms. Stefanie pushed me to be more engaged in fun activities and I really have learned a lot at Bailey’s. I learned that we each can make a change in our community if we do our part. I’m so proud of my growth. So I say thank you to Ms. Stefanie and the whole family.

Read more

Returning by Pharaoh B.

Baileys is very welcoming and makes you feel at home.

Pharaoh

R E T U R N I N G

 

Bailey’s Café is a place where you can do so many different activities, have fun and spend your time wisely. Every day at Bailey’s at 12:30pm, we have lunchtime. During lunch, it’s an opportunity to talk with the other participants in the program and connect with others in the group; we are free to go out during lunch and explore Bed-Stuy, or stay at Bailey’s and have free time for an hour. A lot of times, I went to play basketball in the park nearby with the other boys, while some of the girls like Kendra and Nevaeh would play Just Dance. Another thing I enjoy about Baileys is they offer the choice of not doing certain things if you cannot do them for religious or other reasons. This really helped me feel included in the program because there were certain activities I could not take part in, but Ms. Stefanie gave me and the other kids activities to do during these times.

I attended Bailey’s summer program when I was younger and we were focused on preparing for a performance..

Pharaoh

This summer Bailey’s offered many different kinds of activities from yoga to art to gardening to photography. I attended Bailey’s summer program when I was younger and we were focused on preparing for a performance. At that time, I wasn’t able to digest the information as well. This year I was able to get more out of the experience.

The teachers are very friendly and treated me as if I was here for the whole time, especially Kadeem; but that’s also because we have known each other for a longtime, even before I came to Bailey’s. He is a dance teacher and also facilitates gender studies for the boys. During gender studies, we have a safe space where we can tell each other everything that we are going through without the stress of somebody telling somebody. Everyone at Bailey’s is very welcoming and makes you feel at home.

Read more

Future Jeweler by Osei D.

This summer at Bailey’s Cafe, I’ve been practicing making jewelry with Ms. Monifa. Her jewelry making methods are very different from Ms. Angela’s. Ms. Angela would use cloth and paper but Ms. Monifa uses copper wire and other professional jeweling material. I don’t expect to pick up jewelry making instantly but this is a valuable skill I would love to use in my free time if I had the tools to do it. This class has taught me exactly what to do when I see a jumpring, or a rubber mallet and how to imprint words and designs on metal. I recorded Ms. Monifa polishing a piece just to watch and study it later. I would definitely become a jeweler if the opportunity opened up to me. I would like to learn more about the profession and maybe I’ll be able to say I have jewelry making skills one day.

My favorite activities here are jewelry making practice and talking with Sweat and Kadeem. My least favorite is probably knitting/crocheting but I know it’s a good skill to have for the future. I just dislike how much I have to focus because even if I mess up once it all goes to waste and I’ll have to restart. The thing I love about talking with Sweat are his experiences and how he shares his wisdom with us to inspire us and make us think. Sweat and Kadeem are people I can ask questions to that I can’t ask my mom because my father isn’t around. He’s always asking us questions to keep the attentive energy flowing and never excludes someone so everyone gets to talk, like an informational Q&A from a very experienced older man.


There are a lot less people here than before so I started telling my friends about Bailey’s Cafe so maybe next summer it can be another home for them too. But I’m kind of enjoying how little people are here because it makes us closer and get to know each other b​​etter. I just enjoy being around the family I don’t have in New York because my family lives in Indiana. Bailey’s makes my summer really fun, productive and interesting but would never be the same without the few people who make my summer experience what it is.

Read more

My Safe Space by Shellby L.

I’ve been coming to Bailey’s Café, a community based center located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for three years. At the heart of Bailey’s, we have Ms. Stefanie. Since I have known her, she has easily become one of the most impactful and inspirational women I know. Every summer since 2018 that I’ve participated in the 6-week program, it has been made influential due to her presence.

My favorite part of Bailey’s is that it’s an environment that is full of love and cultivates personal growth. I always feel safe there. Bailey’s Café helps me find my inner voice and I am able to hear it more clearly throughout the school year. Having a space during the summer where I am able to be vulnerable and authentically myself without fear of judgment is important to me. Ms. Stefanie encourages us to feel and creates space for us to process and understand our emotions. She teaches us to think deeply and thoroughly about our place within this world, the impact we have on other people, as well as our environment. Being around Ms. Stefanie at Bailey’s, something that I’ve learned is how important it is to recycle, and to do our part to take care of and preserve the planet we live on. Something else I’ve learned is that it’s important to take care of your health. I’ve learned about my role and my place in the lives of others. I’ve seen the difference it makes to listen to myself and treat ME with kindness the same way I would to someone else. I’m deserving of good things, and the way I love myself has such an impact on the way I show love to others. Ms. Stefanie has played a big part in me learning these things. I am able to associate Bailey’s Café with positive feelings because of her. I appreciate her and I’m truly grateful for all she’s given me this summer and all of the summers in the past.

Every summer after Bailey’s ends, I feel as if I’ve been reset and I’m prepared with the tools I need to be ready to walk through the rest of the year feeling at peace.


Read more

A New Home by Fahmidah I.

Bailey’s Cafe, contrary to the name, is not actually a cafe but definitely gives off the calm setting that most if not all cafes have. A sense of peace and serenity that anyone who walks in will feel. It’s funny how when I first came to Bailey’s I was so nervous. Not only was I late, I was also new. I even lost my way coming and felt like I’d messed up so badly I wouldn’t be able to fit in. Only to be proven wrong from the moment I saw Stefanie with her welcoming voice asking me what I was here for and my working paper. From there the group of people I worked with became my friends, all of them being very open and welcoming people. I was introduced into the circle, the community and for the first time in my life I craved for the summer to continue on with all the fun I was having. Bailey’s Cafe became a safe place for me to be me and just be able to speak up without any sense of judgment. I started my journey of seeing the person everyone else sees within me, my potential that I kept hidden for so long. 

Now here I am at Bailey’s for another year and I couldn’t be more grateful to be back. This year though the group is much smaller making the moments more intimate. I’ve gotten to know some people better and have met new people that always make me smile with their goofy faces and jokes. All those in this community are such wonderful people that I wish more people could see everyday. So they can see the changes being made everyday, whether they are big changes or small ones, the brains that are being challenged and cultivated seem to thrive in this environment. Bailey’s thank you for the past year and the years to come for all the hard work in creating a safe place to expand the youth’s lenses of this world. 

Read more

Stitch By Stitch by Mckenzie

“When sewing lessons started I honestly had no clue what I was doing…”

Mckenzie

Being in Bailey’s this summer, I was happy to learn that I would have the opportunity to learn how to sew. Sewing has always been a skill that I wanted to learn. I have always been facinated by handmade clothing and the process behind it. The fact that people can think of and create their own clothing with their own two hands is something that I’ve always wanted to do.

When sewing lessons started I honestly had no clue what I was doing. On the first day of sewing, Jendayi, Fahmidah and I took the fifteen minute walk from Bailey’s Cafe to the instructor’s studio. The instructor, Willie, has a studio that he built inside of the basement of his house. The studio is a place where he designs, creates, and makes all of his clothes.

Mckenzie (left) and Fahmidah (right) on a trip day volunteering at Fabscraps in Brooklyn

Stitching is a hobby that over time becomes easier and more exciting to do

Mckenzie

We learned how to stitch, how to create a pattern and use a sewing machine. In the class I had the opportunity to make a dress out of a patterned fabric. I was excited to be able to make something and bring it home. The process was filled with trial and error but with Willie’s help, it became more fun than stressful. Stitching is a hobby that over time becomes easier and more exciting to do. Now that I am leaving the class I know that I am walking away with a new skill and possibly a new hobby. 

Read more

Welcome Back Summer 2022!

The snow has melted, the sun is out longer and people are smiling, It’s officially another year at Bailey’s Cafe! We’re excited to welcome the participants–new and returning–to a summer of creativity and fun. For the next six weeks, the theme is “What’s in Your Hands?” The participants will be involved in various activities such as creative writing, yoga, textile arts, dance, gender studies as well as engaging with a range of special guests sharing their life story each week. Everyone will also have the opportunity to explore a variety of workshops such as, jewelry making, documentary filming, candle making, sewing, gardening and food justice all taught by an expert in each craft. In addition, each Thursday participants will go on trips from all over the city. Bailey’s is ready for another wonderful summer full of fun, laughter, and enriching experiences!

Read more

As Quiet As It’s Kept Photography Installation: We Are Here, Robyn Twomey, Photographer

An exploration of home, community service and legacy.


As Quiet As It’s Kept photographer Robyn Twomey.

We Are Here” centers images and stories of long-time Bed-Stuy residents, cementing their place as neighborhood icons in the name of resilience and permanence.  It features photographs by Robyn Twomey and interviews by Monica L. Williams. We would print life size photos of each interview participant.

Robyn Twomey is an international freelance photographer, mother of two and former Bed-Stuy gentrifier. Her work has been exhibited at the Luggage Store Gallery, The Patricia Sweetow Gallery, SF Camerawork and the SF Arts Commission. Her documentary portraiture stories are her way to open our personal understanding of one another and dare a deeper human connection. 

Bailey’s Cafe presents As Quiet As It’s Kept (AQAIK), a multi-discipline performance installation based on the stories of veterans of color and their role in a changing community under the artistic direction of Monica L. Williams in collaboration with artists from various genres.

#WeAreHere #RobynTwomey #AsQuietAsItsKept #AQAIK #BaileysCafe #MAPFund #NYCCouncil #NYCDCA

We Are Here – The Photoville FENCE

Read more

As Quiet As It’s Kept Theater Installation: Homeward, a Play in Two Acts by Anna Pond

An exploration of home, community service and legacy.


As Quiet As It’s Kept playwright Anna Pond.

An excerpt from “Homeward” will be performed Veterans Day Nov. 11
featuring Greg Alvarez Reid followed by a conversation with Black male veterans. 8 PM ET Bailey’s Café YouTube Channel

Preceded by special Veterans Day set with DJ Reborn on Zoom

A flier showing illustrated red, yellow and blue figures in a neighborhood scene, with blue and yellow lettering announcing the Veteran's Day event for As Quiet As It's Kept.
Click here for DJ Reborn’s 7pm set: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2594277542

Since Vietnam, Rufus Jefferson has felt lost, PTSD crippling his interactions with those he loves. Everyone, including his beloved wife and best friend, think a near-death experience in war caused his recurring trauma. For most of his life he keeps secret how his white commanding officer actions resulting in Rufus’ less-than-honorable discharge traumatized him, and why he doesn’t tell anyone the truth. It’s not until his daughter convinces him to testify to his story and fight the “bad paper” symbolizing his dishonor that he finds his way home.

Anna started her acting career in Los Angeles as a member of the award winning City Garage theater company. After a quick pass through Boston’s theater scene, she made her way to NYC where she joined the Michael Chekhov Theatre Company and performed across the city in classical to contemporary plays. 

More recently, Anna has focused on producing and writing. With two other actresses, she formed Working Girls Productions, a production company dedicated to expanding works for female actresses by presenting women in roles written for men. With another actor colleague, Anna formed Lamb Pond Productions to produce a show as a fundraiser to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Anna is grateful to be part of AQAIK, and couldn’t have written Homeward without the creative guidance and support of Monica Williams. In addition to Homeward, Anna is working on a novel, and another play focused on race justice issues.

Performer: Greg Alverez Reid can be seen in the upcoming HBO Special Event BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME. He recently appeared In the HBO Documentary: “The Apollo”. His theatre credits consist of Off-Broadway, numerous Regional Theatre and renowned Arts Centers like the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in his native Washington, DC. Notable performances include FENCES directed by Phylicia Rashad and the inaugural stage productions of BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME directed by Kamilah Forbes. Greg has collaborated with some amazing arts organizations like Hi-Arts, NAACP Hollywood Bureau, Sundance Theatre Lab, KCTYA and [email protected] and helped to produce content for HBO, VH1, One Foot Productions, Seachange Entertainment, MTV, Logo and NBC. He is a proud graduate of the Illustrious Howard University and the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University.

Guest Veteran: Retired Pvt. Herbert Sweat, RA12764315. U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Vietnam 1967-68. Airborne Combat Infantry Badge.

Guest Veteran: Retired Pvt. Roger Omar Salaam. U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division 3/306 Infantry. Phan Thiết, Vietnam.

Bailey’s Cafe presents As Quiet As It’s Kept (AQAIK), a multi-discipline performance installation based on the stories of veterans of color and their role in a changing community under the artistic direction of Monica L. Williams in collaboration with artists from various genres.

#Homeward #APlayInTwoActs #AnnaPond #AsQuietAsItsKept #AQAIK #BaileysCafe #MAPFund #NYCCouncil #NYCDCA

Read more