Get to Know Dealice Fuller
Each month GREENLINE will introduce you to a community member whose work or actions have benefited the area. This month’s featured neighbor is Dealice Fuller, chairperson of Brooklyn Community Board 1. Her hope for participating in this questionnaire is to encourage someone to become active in the community. “Volunteering is one of the greatest things you can contribute to your community,” said Fuller.
Question 1: How would you describe your role in the community?
Answer: Community Activist
Question 2: Where did you grow up?
Answer: South Carolina
Question 3: What brought you to North Brooklyn and when did you arrive?
Answer: “I came to Williamsburg fifty-something years ago, to find better opportunities.”
Question 4: When did you begin to take an active role in the community?
Answer: In the early 80s, Dealice Fuller became floor captain at Lindsay Park Co-op and went to meetings and got involved. Shortly thereafter she was elected her building’s chairperson.
Lindsay Park has seven buildings. One of its buildings (31 Leonard Street) was cited in a 2014 article in The New Republic as the most diverse apartment building in America. This cooperative is part of the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, and it is the largest Mitchell-Lama co-op in Brooklyn. The Mitchell-Lama program provides affordable rental and cooperative homeownership opportunities to families with moderate and middle incomes.
“I worked with building management and the board so that all buildings were treated equally and received services. I started a chairpersons’ committee [comprised of] the chairperson for each building. I was the chairperson of the swimming pool committee; we planned activities for the residents. I was elected to Lindsay Park Board of Directors and then became vice president. I got involved with other organizations to see how other co-ops were doing things. I served as the Brooklyn co-chair for the Mitchell Llama Task Force under three Brooklyn borough presidents,” said Fuller.
Dealice Fuller also helped make her neighborhood safer and greener when she helped to start a community garden in 1991.
“I was one of the founders of the Sunshine Community Garden (99-100 McKibben Street). Before it was a garden it was a vacant lot full of garbage and wasn’t safe.”
They cleaned it out, transformed a grey and repellant lot into a welcoming greenspace, and opened it to the public. They began to hold BBQs and other community events there. The Sunshine Community Garden is under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks and supported by GreenThumb. The description of the garden on its webpage states, “This garden is a peaceful sanctuary, where lots of flowers bloom, vegetables grow, and children are welcome to come and go. The group holds annual barbecues and all summer long there are workshops for the children. They also welcome family and church gatherings into the garden. Sunshine is a wonderful community garden located off of busy Graham Ave. The garden is mostly vegetable beds. In the front there is a star shaped children’s bed and pint-sized table in the children’s area. There is a swinging bench-rose arbor in the middle.”
In 2008, Fuller joined Brooklyn Community Board 1 (BKCB1). She filled out an application on the recommendation of her friend, Emma Townsend, who was on this community board. After joining BKCB1, she was elected to its executive board, became financial Secretary, and in 2014 became chairperson. She also was a member of the CAC (Customer Advisory Council) for the United States Post Service in 2014. She was instrumental in getting Locked Parcel Boxes in the Lindsay Park Housing Co-Op and at the Williamsburg Post Office.
Although she no longer serves on the board of Lindsay Park Co-op, she is an active member of Lindsay Park Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC).
Question 5: What inspires you to get involved in the community?
Answer: “After working in Lindsay Park — rising up the ranks — housing issues were vast. I liked to work with people and help them get the resources and services that they needed. I enjoyed finding solutions and working with people. I don’t have a problem making tough decisions that will ultimately enhance the lives of our community members.”
Question 6: What are your core community causes?
Answer: “Housing, especially Mitchell-Lama. Mitchell-Lama is great housing and we should have more of it. We have rentals and co-ops in the boroughs, but Mitchell-Lama is instrumental in providing affordable housing to hard working families. When you own something, you take care of it because you own it.” She expressed that building more housing that those earning middle incomes could afford would help stop displacement in the community. “The issues are plentiful, the workers are few,” said Fuller in a rephrasing of Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Question 7: What has changed for the better, what has changed for the worse in the community?
Answer: [Nothing came to mind to her for either category, so I asked if she feels that the community board has a good representation of the community.]
“We should have more diversity on the board and more civic minded people whose top priority is enhancing the lives of their fellow neighbors and the community at large,” said Fuller.
Question 8: How has North Brooklyn changed you?
Answer: “It made me a community activist. I have seen a need and chose to step up and volunteer my talent and time to work with other members of the community.”
Question 9: What would you most like to say to new people moving into the community?
Answer: “Advise people to be good neighbors, work with the community, and get to know your neighbors.”
Question 10: What is something you’d like to see in the neighborhood in 5–10 years?
Answer: “More small businesses and affordable housing that meets everybody’s price range. Small shops that are affordable — small shops are being priced out.” She observed that enabling small businesses could reduce truck traffic from online orders. “Online orders impair social interactions and that tends to change a neighborhood. Small business owners knew you and you had great conversations and most of the time they knew your entire family, and it created a warm atmosphere in the community. We really need some small shops on our avenues to bring back that customer atmosphere.”
Question 11: What about this community brings you the most happiness?
Answer: “Living in a community where you feel safe — the safety to be able to come and go.”