Extraordinary Women: Denise Cosom

March 17, 2012 Editorial Staff
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Throughout Denise Cosom’s career as a social worker, she has encountered all kinds of problems concerning families, including poverty, hunger and homelessness. She noticed the stories about the fathers of these children were often the same. They were incarcerated, or nowhere to be found.

A single mother, Denise understood the struggle of raising children, especially males, in an underserved community. One day, two of Denise’s colleagues inquired how she raised her two sons in the projects of East New York while preventing them from being involved with the criminal justice system. They told her she would be great working with young men. This is when she realized her life purpose was to help young men reach their full potential and become contributing members of society.

One day at a Brooklyn hospital, she observed a young man being demeaned by people in the hospital’s waiting area. She learned that he had just aged out of the juvenile justice system. Denise began to mentor him and, as she witnessed his daily struggles, she noticed the system neither adequately monitored his education nor made it possible for him to develop independent life skills.

Since 2009, Denise Cosom and her “Young Gents Society” mentoring program have been volunteering at Crossroads, a juvenile detention center responsible for caring for youth remanded into their care by the courts.

Ms. Cosom has made a significant impact. Attorneys contact Crossroads and request that Ms. Cosom meet their clients. Young Gents has mentored over 100 incarcerated young men at Riker’s Island and has presented workshops to young men at Crossroads Detention Center.

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