A coalition of Turkish-American organizations forked over $40,000 yesterday to the Gerritsen Beach library (2808 Gerritsen Avenue) and Gerritsen Beach Elementary School (P.S. 277), institutions that have suffered in the five months since Superstorm Sandy rocked the community.
The donation came from Turkish-American groups, non-profits and businesses, spearheaded by Helping Hands Relief Foundation, Kimse Yokmu, Council of Turkic American Associations, Turkish Cultural Center and the Brooklyn Amity School.
Of the $40,000 donated yesterday, $30,000 is going to the Brooklyn Public Library’s Gerritsen Beach branch, one of two branches in the system that has been unable to reopen due to extensive damage. The checks were handed over during a ceremony in front of the branch. Prior to the ceremony, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke toured the facility, which has been gutted down to bare walls, floors and rafters.
“We believe that Brooklyn Public Library and P.S. 277 are invaluable resources for the community, where people of all ages will benefit tremendously in many different ways,” said Nevzat Yilmaz, president of Helping Hands Relief Foundation. “This is dedicated to building a better future for the children and families of our community, and leaves a footprint for the next generations of Turkish-Americans to take care of community facilities that serve the people.”
Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson was on-hand to receive the check, delivered by a cadre of Amity School students. She said the library would use the funds in part to rebuild the library with green technology and infrastructure.
P.S. 277 Principal Jeanne Fish said the school would use the funds to install new smartboards and laptops in classrooms.
As part of the Turkish Cultural Center Brooklyn’s (TCC Brooklyn) “Media Talks” series, the Amity School will host Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Marine Park resident Paul Moses, who will discuss “How to Build a Career in Media,” Monday, February 4 at 3:00 p.m. The discussion will be held inside the Amity School, 3867 Shore Parkway between Brigham Street and Knapp Street, right off the Belt Parkway.
If Moses’ name rings a bell, that’s because, in the days following Superstorm Sandy, the teacher of journalism at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism submitted to us his first local reporting piece in decades, about hard-hit Gerritsen Beach being virtually ignored both in their recovery efforts and by much of the mainstream media.
Last week we reported on Councilman Lew Fidler, the 41st Assembly Democrats, and Toy Drive founder Bryan Lee’s 12th annual ‘Toys For Tots’ toy drive. The annual drive is holding satellite drives all month long, and the Teen-Driven Toy Drive Kick-Off held last week set a wonderful example as teens from all different cultural backgrounds banded together for a good cause.
The Teen-Driven Toy Drive Kick-Off was held at the Kings Bay Y last week. The teens and participants are from the Kings Bay Y, Hebrew Educational Society, Turkish Cultural Center, Brooklyn Amity School, 41st Assembly District Democrats Club and Councilman Fidler’s staff, a diverse coalition representing the best of our local youth doing their part to help those in need. One such selfless volunteer is Kings Bay Y teen Paula (pictured above), who was participating for the first time this year.
The toy drive is still currently accepting donations, and if you wish to give in person, you can bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Toys for Tots box at the Y, located at 3495 Nostrand Ave, or by bringing it to the Grand Finale Party at the Democrats Club at 2952 Ave. R, on Thursday night, December 20 between 7 and 9 p.m. Donations are also accepted by mailing a check payable to Community First Toy Drive- 41st A.D. Dems Club c/o Bryan Lee, Executive Director 2664 Dorothy Street Bellmore, NY 11710. You can also reach out to Toy Drive founder Bryan Lee by calling (917) 846-1944.
Captain Chell addresses Amity’s students (Source: Brooklyn Amity School)
Students at Brooklyn Amity School (3867 Shore Parkway) got a visit from Johnny Law last week when the 61st Precinct’s Captain John Chell came by to talk about his life as a police officer.
The NYPD veteran gave a speech about his duties, covering a wide range of topics from how much sleep he gets, his reaction and involvement in the 9/11 tragedy, and even answering questions about having to use his gun in his pursuit of the bad guys.
However, it was Chell’s opinion of donuts, as reported by the school’s own website, that the kids (and Sheepshead Bites’ writers) found most interesting:
When the question and answer session was over, one of the middle school students started to cry softly. When the Chief called on him and asked him why he was crying, he said because he had a question. The officer seemed heartbroken and nicely asked him to ask his question. The child very seriously wanted to know if the Chief always eats donuts. This question came very unexpectedly and brought laughter from the grown ups, including Chief Chell himself. He told the curious student that he loves donuts and asked in return if he likes donuts too. The student, still hiccupping with tears, answered yes, and Chief Chell smiled and said that they are on the same page then.
Rest easy, little Jimmy; yes, cops love donuts, so do the rest of us, and that’s what makes America great.
Ivy Director Zini presents Cymbrowitz with a plaque recognizing his commitment to the center.
Ivy Learning Center celebrated the grand opening last week of its Sheepshead Bay branch, the first and only in New York City.
The center took up residence in 2727 Coney Island Avenue – the former location of the Brooklyn Amity School, which still owns the property – serving K-12 students with tutoring, test preparation, essay coaching and summer enrichment programs. The local branch is partnered with the Amity School, but is itself a standalone business based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, since 2006, with locations in four states. Like Amity, it was founded by Turkish businessmen, though serves the broader community.
The event kicked off Friday afternoon with a speech from director Ufuk Zini touting the organization’s mission.
“At Ivy Learning we offer top-notch tutoring at affordable rates. We are also a supplemental education service provider. As a nonprofit organization, our ultimate goal is to give back to the community as much as possible,” Zini told the crowd. “I’m looking forward to embarking on this journey with all of you in the community.”
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz stopped by the event to welcome the new educational organization, noting that the area is experiencing a Turkish boom in business and population.
“Welcome to the heart of the Turkish community in Brooklyn, right here in the 45th Assembly District,” Cymbrowitz said. “It’s been a pleasure learning how much education is valued by the Turkish community.”
On the upside, the organization’s director has told Sheepshead Bites they’ll be using the time between now and the rescheduled forum to tweak the program, taking feedback from Sheepshead Bites’ commenters into consideration.
The group said they hope to add a local a rabbi to the program, as well as possibly split it into two events – one in the afternoon for students, and one later in the day for adults.
More information will be posted as the group firms up its plans.
Locally-elected politicians, Borough President Marty Markowitz and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly were among those on hand at the Brooklyn Amity School’s grand opening in the former Golden Gate Inn – and all swooned over the community-boosting transformation.
The site at 3867 Shore Parkway was once a fixture of local lore, rumored to be a pay-per-hour motel that saw more johns than journeyers. But administrators of the Brooklyn Amity School took over the property early this year, and have spent the past several months making it a second home for students.
Renderings of the new Brooklyn Amity School, at Knapp Street and Shore Boulevard
Rumors have been swirling since the close of Golden Gate Inn at the end of December, but Sheepshead Bites has confirmed the new use for the property – Brooklyn Amity School, a Turkish-owned private school currently located on Coney Island Avenue.
Amity School was founded in 1999 by Turkish businessmen, but that doesn’t mean its limited to students of Turkish background. They’re listed as a non-sectarian K-12 school on GreaterSchools.org, with a current student body of around 222 kids. With the larger location in the former Golden Gate Inn (3867 Shore Parkway), they’ll likely be growing that number.
Paranoia seems to have gripped the neighborhood after the hotel’s closing was announced, with rumors that the spot would be used for a number of purposes that some say would’ve sparked controversy – a center for homeless kids, a Muslim boys school, a Turkish establishment (not a school), and a charter school are just some examples.