Star of Brooklyn: Barbara Sheeran



COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: A Community Board 14 member who also played an integral role in the now defunct Junction College Development Corp (JCDC), Barbara Sheeran has lived a life that has revolved around fixing the ever-changing Brooklyn neighborhoods, particularly Flatbush.

One day during the 1970s, Sheeran was headed to a workshop on house planting at a church school when she noticed a meeting that took place in another room about starting a block association.

“It dawned on me that it might be a good idea. The neighborhood was changing rapidly,” she said. After staying for the entire lecture, Sheeran was asked if she would host a meeting in her apartment. She agreed and it was a success.

The block association became widely popular. Neighbors got to know each other as well as discuss key issues. Then, a member of the community was shot during a fatal robbery.

“They killed him for his wallet,” Sheeran recalls. “After that incident, over 100 people showed up to the next meeting. We started a car patrol. Brooklyn College gave us a base station in Boylan Hall and it was perfect for scheduling. We rode out in cars in South Midwood and the other side of Bedford. We encountered attempted robberies.”

Sheeran has also worked hard in beautifying different areas of Brooklyn. “We got money to plant trees in the Glenwood Road area. Cars used to park there. We got it paved and got funding to plant trees,” she said.

Because of this, Sheeran received an award for improving her area at a Central Park event. She also played an integral role as a member of a Gerritsen Beach committee, which helped build a new library for the area.

CAREER: Sheeran spent a major part of her life as an employee of Brooklyn College. “I was in all different offices. My friends and neighbors worked there and helped me get a part time job at first. I then became an administrative assistant, a full time civil servant,” she said.

MOTIVATION: Sheeran has no regrets about dedicating so much time to help fix her community. “I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this in my lifetime. It’s been such a wonderful learning experience,” she said. “I found it gratifying and interesting. I’ve met wonderful people. Everyone got involved.”

She also attributes her desire to be involved to her family, who were also very active in civic association. “That got me started,” Sheeran said.

PERSONAL LIFE: A lifelong Brooklynite, Sheeran was born in Marine Park in 1933. After spending many of her years there, she and her husband moved to Flatbush, and she eventually fell in love with the area.

Then, in 1984, her husband died. “I got depressed. My kids had left. I thought I might move. There were too many memories.” Her pastor made Sheeran promise to wait at least a year before making that decision. She then decided to stay after that year. “I’m so glad I didn’t move,” she said. “I love this location.”

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