Mercedes Narcisse, President Of The Avenue L Merchants Association By Dara Mormile
“My association works hard helping to revitalize the strip,” she said. “But community members have to recognize that we all have to be a part of the change-making and this is a different neighborhood than it was many years ago.”
Narcisse, who owns a medical supply store on Avenue L, also heads Canarsie By Choice, an organization that has been addressing real estate issues and giving the strip a face-lift since 1994.
A Canarsie resident for over 20 years, she is president of the 41st Assembly District Democratic Club and is involved with the local Lion’s Club, Community Board 18 and the Friends United Block Association.
A native of Haiti, Narcisse came to America when she was a teenager. She resided in Remsen Village and attended Tilden High School then New York City Tech College, where she earned a degree in nursing.
She became a registered nurse, she said, because she genuinely loved working with patients and making people feel better. She has provided her services at Brookdale Hospital and worked in Elmhurst Hospital for ten years.
In addition to running her business for three years, she works on the weekends for the Visiting Nurse Services, a job that takes her all over Brooklyn,.
“It’s extremely helpful to be a nurse and be involved with so many organizations,” she said. “Nursing helps me deal with all different people on such an important level. I have a great passion for people and trying to understanding what they want.”
When Narcisse moved to her home on Avenue L, she knew the merchants group existed but had become inactive. Her interest peaked in helping make the avenue viable when she noticed the number of stores that were closing. She attended a meeting and was subsequently voted its president.
“In order to bring Avenue L back to what it was decades ago, we need more cheerleading because I can’t do it alone,” she said. “I understand my fellow merchants can’t close their stores in the evenings so that the organization can hold regular meetings. I don’t want them to lose business and everyone has a family to go home to and take care of,” she added.
Narcisse said she wished she had more time for the organizations she is involved with. “Sometimes people think I am not that active because we’re not holding meetings and they want to see improvement,” she said. “Those people do not understand that just like the other merchants, I have a family to take care of and I cannot make the change instantaneously. I wish I had the same amount of time to contribute to the community as those who believe I am not working hard enough.”
One individual she credits helping her is Bryan Lee, City Councilman Lew Fidler’s chief of staff. “He’s my energy bar. He’s put a lot of time into assisting me with events and various functions. It’s great to have him by my side when I need him.”