Operation Rescue: Help Save Family Heritage Home

Want to join me in making a difference? PEAC Institute is raising money to help Save a Family Heritage Home! Any donation will help make an impact.
Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me.
In Diane's Own Words:
In 2021 my beautiful 88-year old Mom and I had COVID. We were hospitalized for over two weeks. Mom passed. The loss was and is surreal. After a long hospital stay I recovered from COVID.
When I was released from the hospital Mom’s lawyer informed that our home, which I call Memory Lane, was to be sold. The home has been in the family almost ninety years. This news was unexpected. I was immobilized for months by grief and shock.

I am hoping you will help me save Memory Lane. Please.

Diane as a child, Grandfather behind her, Mother next to her, Father far left

My great-grandfather, Grandpa as he was called, purchased the home almost 90-years ago. James Hendy worked, saved, and came to America from Barbados in the 1920s. Once here he worked in a hospital. He later lived in the Bronx, and Harlem, The ‘A’ train carried him into Brooklyn. With 1930s infiltration of Blacks Bed-Stuy was redlined and seen as undesirable. White flight began in earnest. Grandpa settled in Bed-Stuy.
James Hendy
 By that time my great-grandmother Evelyn Hendy had left Barbados and came through Ellis Island.
In the 50s I remember my great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and uncles in fedoras, and wing-tipped shoes, gathered in the Chauncey Street living room. Laughter, watching TV, playing cards, and loud talking was the order of the day. Reading the comics with my great-grandfather, while sitting at the parlor window, was an evening ritual.
I went to my first co-ed party in the upstairs apartment. It was 1962. A song I remember being played, is “‘You Beat Me To The Punch.” After school, my great-grandmother who we called Mamie, would have homemade coconut candy waiting on the dining room table.
One family who rented from Grandpa in the 50s came from Panama. The young son, Billy Cobham, is today, still a renowned world-class jazz drummer.
My mother was a girl in this home. In 1940 when she was 8 years old Grandpa stood Mom in front of the house and said to her, “This is your house.” In 1958 when I was 8 years old Grandpa taught me to ride my blue Schwinn bike across the street in Fulton Park.
Evelyn Hendy
Four decades later, my son carried his make-believe lantern in the hallway, playing, with a Harry Potter cape on. A decade after that his college banner was tied across the front steps declaring his graduation after COVID canceled the ceremony.
We were here during the 60s and turbulent 70s and 80s and changing 90s.
I walked down Chauncey Street, in my wedding dress, carrying my bouquet, to my church, two blocks away, to be married, neighbors cheering.
This home has never NOT been in my life.  Chauncey Street is simply and powerfully and wondrously home. I was born in a hospital four blocks from my home
Market value, due to Bedford Stuyvesant’s gentrification, is approximately 1.5 million, an impossible amount for me. What is contained in that 1.5 million dollar balloon? Foreign investors, speculators, immigrants, privilege, legacy, inheritance, years of unequal opportunity, white professionals and creative types, to name some. And when new buyers purchase their homes some don’t move in for a while—as their wealth enables them to extensively update and practically rebuild the brownstones.
I do not qualify for a loan anywhere near this amount.
The grade school I walked to as a child has been turned into luxury apartments that no one in the community can afford.
When I was in the hospital recovering from COVID a young Black nurse came in the room to give me meds. She checked my chart. It had my address on it and the first question was, “How can you afford to live in Bed-Stuy?”
I wanted to apologize to her or something for being in a place she thought she couldn’t. I told her I was in my great-grandparent's home purchased decades ago, assuring her, in a way, I couldn’t afford it either at today’s prices.
Unless I can purchase my home, at market value soon, I will have to leave. Go. Where? After almost 90-years in my family’s hands who would move to Memory Lane? Who?
Help. Please. Why would anyone do this, save my home for me? The significance would be beyond me. It would highlight a new level of care and awareness. It would be a project vital to a community being shut out by skyrocketing prices—replaced by gentrification-and confronting a wealth disparity. It would be an opportunity to play a part in saving a historic family home, continuing a community legacy.
I cannot imagine a For Sale sign, a tombstone, planted on this home, a shock, a feeling of the inevitable, and erasure by gentrification.
When my great-grandfather bought this home it was a matter of determination and lucky geography. The home was far from landmarked. The area wasn’t thee Stuyvesant Heights. It was undesirable. It was simply Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bed-Stuy.
Each and every morning I wake up and try to feel like the home still has its arms wrapped around me. I stand on the porch and pray, remembering jumping rope there and years later standing on the porch looking for my then 17-year-old son’s head to pop up from the train station across the way, late, safe, and meeting curfew.
I want to continue my work in my community and for my community. I am an artist and writer. I tutor students in writing. I am a literacy volunteer. I’ve led memoir workshops. I’ve just finished leading a Pandemic Writing Workshop. I’ve recently developed a program, Write About Now, to encourage critical thinking in young people.
Diane's Art - She made these Bags, Scarves, and Paintings 
Affordable housing in New York City is non-existent. I will soon be 72 and my husband, 73, is a retired bus operator. We are listed on over 50 waitlists for affordable housing, low-income housing, and senior housing. It could take years to clear a list. The pandemic, the magnifier, has added another layer of concern for all. And in the meantime, we have no idea where we will live, what neighborhood. Unhoused.
Diane's Son at age 7 on the block

Diane at age 7, 1957—playing on the floor in the living room
Brooklyn and New York City have many famous people who grew up here and did extremely well. I am reaching out to you as well others outside of New York to help save Memory Lane. Spread the word. Unless you live in NYC and are familiar with real estate you have no idea how these numbers got to this level and who gets left out.
When I make that quick left and then a quick right to turn into my block, I hesitate for a moment at the top of the block and enjoy the view of the tree-lined street and thank God for my great-grandfather’s vision.
Help. Please. This is an opportunity to play a part in saving a historic family home and continuing a community legacy.
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Rebecca Irby 
Brooklyn, NY
PEAC Institute 
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