THE COMMUTE: This week we are taking another look at the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). On Monday we discussed major problems thus far: confusion, not enough SBS stops, and inadequate service on New York Avenue. We discussed actions taken by some local elected officials. Yesterday we shared some rider and operator reviews gathered from an email, the media, and transit discussion groups on the internet. Today we will share a few more reviews and draw some conclusions.
Looking to decrease stress and get into shape without burning out your body or wallet? A local Tai Chi master is offering free classes to neighbors on the sidewalk in front of his home.
Steve Lin, a championship-level master of the ancient Chinese tradition, gives free Tai Chi lessons every Monday at 10 a.m. in front of his home at 2672 East 21st Street. He’s been offering the classes to friends and neighbors for the past decade.
Lin welcomes students of all ages and experience, including beginners, and no special equipment is necessary.
Bay Improvement Group Acting Executive Director Laura McKenna brought the story to our attention and asked that we share it. She met Lin in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, when he came with his son and grandchildren to volunteer in the bungalow courts.
Lin and his son Moses are both Sandy survivors as well, living in a flooded home. But despite that, they pitched in to help their neighbors.
Lin continues to give back with the free lessons. Tai Chi is a low-impact form of exercise that won’t leave you sore, but is acknowledged to decrease stress and anxiety, increase flexibility and stamina, and tone up the body over time.
Our featured photographer informs us that:
“This is a composite of 6 pictures, the original image is over 10,000 pixels wide, it can be printed huge.”
This is great, for those of you who want a massive panorama of the Sheepshead Bay Road train station for Hanukkah or Christmas. (Sorry, Roman, I couldn’t resist).
Photo by Roman Kruglov / Roman.K Photography
The Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association brought home another successful food drive on Thursday, collecting approximately 20 turkeys, several food gift cards, and more than 1,000 cans and packages for distribution to needy families in the community.
The group brought the food to the Our Lady of Refuge Church food pantry at Ocean Avenue and Foster Avenue on Saturday to keep them stocked through the holiday. Dozens of families will have a full stomach thanks to their hard work and generosity.
Much of the food was collected at boxes placed in local businesses, including Michael’s Bakery, JoMart Chocolates, Mini-Mart, Pronto Pizza, Tom’s Cleaners, Henry’s Deli, T&D Bakery, G&S Pork Store, Avenue U Fish Market and Roosevelt Savings Bank. Many of these businesses also made a donation to the effort.
Councilman Lew Fidler and State Senator Marty Golden also made donations during the group’s Thursday meeting, the final collection night.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has let us know that trains and buses will operate on holiday schedules from Wednesday, November 27, through Sunday, December 1, in order to accommodate “the unique travel demands of Thanksgiving weekend.” [Ed. – Just reading those words makes me want to sit at home in a snuggy, sipping a large mug of mint tea. But I digress.] MTA Bridges and Tunnels, during that same time period, will suspend maintenance at its nine crossings in order to facilitate increased travel.
Details for scheduling changes affecting each of the MTA’s services are below.
Ian Christianson and Marius Obekop from the New York Red Bulls soccer team were on hand to help ‘kick off’ grand re-opening festivities for the newly-renovated All American Soccer Club, 2638 Gerritsen Avenue, and the adjacent Marine Park soccer fields.
In partnership with Gerritsen Beach Cares and HEART 9/11, and with the aid of New York Cares, more than 360 volunteers dedicated themselves to rebuilding the All American Soccer Club, which was heavily damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Christianson and Obekop were only happy to kick the soccer ball around with kids from the neighborhood.
Police are on the hunt for two men wanted for a string of armed robberies at three local delis, including A & H Deli at 1202 Avenue Z, which they visited at least three times.
The incidents happened between the beginning of October up until this past Sunday, and most of the attempts have been in Sheepshead Bay, while another was robbed in Coney Island.
The first incident happened around 3 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the A.H. & F Grocery store at 2811 Ocean Ave. Three men stormed in, flashed a gun, tied up the clerk and took cartons of cigarettes.
On Tuesday, Oct. 22 around 3:30 a.m., one robber struck again at the A & H Deli at 1202 Avenue Z. He flashed a gun and took money and cigarettes.
On Saturday, Nov. 16 shortly before 4 a.m., a lone robber again showed up at A & H Deli and banged on the glass door. But he walked away empty-handed.
Around the very same time on the same day, another lone robber struck the Shop and Smile Bodega at 51 Neptune Ave. He flashed a handgun and took money and cigarettes.
And on Sunday, Nov. 24, a lone suspect returned yet again to the A & H Deli on Avenue Z, walking in and leaving. A second man tried to get in, but was stopped by the clerk, police said.
A & H deli caputred video of the latest attempt, which you can see above.
If you have any information about these incidents or recognize the men in the video, please contact (800) 577-TIPS (8477) or visit NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM.
THE COMMUTE: Yesterday, in Part 1, we provided some media coverage from NewsChannel 12 and NY 1 showing rider frustrations with the new B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). That is not to say that everyone is unhappy about it. As I predicted, those traveling long distances who can make use of the SBS stops will save time and be pleased. You can never please everybody. The question remains: Will more riders be helped or hurt by this new service?
The Red Cross, like many prominent charity organizations, promised aid and relief to scores of victims following the events of Superstorm Sandy. Aljazeera America is reporting that the organization has since informed many victims initially told they would receive help that they are now ineligible to access resources because of policy changes instituted by upper management operators.
After Sandy struck last year, the Red Cross raised $308 million for the relief effort, creating their Move-In Assistance Program in the process. The money raised was the highest gathered by any charity organization. The program promised storm victims that their belongings lost in the storm would be replaced and that they would be given $10,000 to find a new place to live. While the Red Cross is claiming that their program has helped nearly 3,000 victims, hundreds have been denied help due to eligibility requirements that were changed following promises made.
Aljazeera America relayed the story of Rosaline Fernandez, a storm victim who was promised help but ultimately never received it:
Rosaline Fernandez and her three children live in a tiny apartment. It’s all the high school Spanish teacher could find – or afford – after Superstorm Sandy ravaged her Jamaica Bay home on Long Island, N.Y., a year ago. The bay water met the ocean water, soon destroying her car, the furniture inside her home, her kids’ clothes and all the food.
“The first floor was completely washed out,” Fernandez told America Tonight. “There was mold. There was water. There [were] funky smells.”
Months of living in a hotel came and went before Fernandez heard that the Red Cross could help her out. She said she spoke to a caseworker who told her about the Move-In Assistance Program, a program that has helped nearly 3,000 households, according to the Red Cross. She said that the caseworker explained how Fernandez would be eligible for money to move into a new place and that all of her household items would be replaced. The Red Cross told Fernandez that she was eligible for $10,000. Once she found a new home, all she had to do was submit a W-9 tax form and the application, and she’d be set. Months later – and now more than a year after Sandy – she has not received her Red Cross aid…
“There are hundreds of people across New York that all have the same story, that were all told they would be assisted or they’re eligible for assistance, and did homework for the Red Cross,” said Ben Smilowitz, founder of the Disaster Accountability Project, a nonprofit aiming to improve transparency in relief organizations. Smilowitz, a former Red Cross volunteer during Hurricane Katrina, said that many people affected by Sandy “jumped through hoops, took days off work to collect information, and then only to find out that they weren’t eligible in the first place.”
As Smilowitz indicated, Fernandez was not alone in her struggle, as hundreds of other victims have been left in the cold by a change in Red Cross policy. What that change was exactly, and why it was instituted remains a mystery, but according to the report, many Red Cross employees, trying to help struggling families, were left outraged and dismayed by the upper management’s decision to do so:
The Red Cross worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said that, in general, he believed that the humanitarian organization attempts to be a good steward of donors’ dollars.
“However, the decision that was implemented on May 6 didn’t seem to have anything to do with that,” the worker told America Tonight. “There were clients who had received a commitment from the Red Cross for money to assist them in recovering from the storm, but then were deemed ineligible. That’s not assisting clients. That’s not directing the donor dollar where it should be. That’s lying to the victims of the storm and survivors of the storm.”
The Red Cross insists that the program criteria has been consistent since February, but that’s not what Red Cross workers say. America Tonight spoke to several former workers and one who still works there. They told MacVicar that after May 6, there was so much confusion about the program that they were ordered to not speak to their clients. Some Red Cross workers were so upset about telling clients they were no longer eligible for assistance that they quit their jobs. None of the current or former Red Cross employees who spoke to America Tonight could say for sure why the change was made, knowing only that it came from upper management.
For its part, the Red Cross has promised Congressional staff members that they would review their policies and attempt to honor any promises made that they have since rescinded.
“If clients believe they were promised assistance by a Red Cross caseworker and our documentation supports this, we will honor their request, even if they do not fully meet program criteria,” a spokesperson for the Red Cross told Aljazeera America.
Time will tell if the Red Cross comes through on their promise.
Have you or anyone you know been given assistance by the Red Cross following Sandy. Did they make you a promise but later deem you ineligible for funds? Lets us know.
“…wear a crown of daisies.” — Sandra O’Connell
(And queue the haters who cannot wait to tell me in the comments that these are probably weeds, in 3…2…1…)
Photo by Randy Contello / RandyCPhotography