Archive for the tag 'fundraising'

Participants in this year’s Autism Walk.

When the Southern Brooklyn community wants to raise awareness for a good cause, they know how to do it – even in stormy weather.

On Sunday, May 19, approximately 170 Southern Brooklyn locals gathered at the New York Aquarium to walk 1.2 miles of the boardwalk to Coney Island Avenue. Together, they marched until Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton Beach to raise awareness for autism.

Lilach Koch, the Special Needs Program director at the Shorefront Y, said that walks like this are vital to create greater knowledge and education about autism, as well as raise funds.

“This will create a community that recognizes and accepts individuals with autism and supports their families,” Koch said.

The three main goals of the walk? To educate, to recognize, and to gain support for the programs for disabilities.

“It’s important that the leaders of the community understand that it’s a great cause. We are here. We need your support. These programs are scarce,” Koch said.

Two other local Jewish Community Centers – the JCH of Bensonhurst and Kings Bay Y – collaborated on the effort.

Autism is a developmental disorder of brain function. Characteristics typically include impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests.

According to, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify 1 in 88 American children on the autism spectrum. Statistically, there are more children affected by autism than diabetes, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome combined.

The event saw well known community figures like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and a host of community volunteers.

“Our mission is to strengthen the skills of our clients and support them and their families from early childhood to adulthood. We believe in our developmentally disabled clients and direct them to become more independent, functional and happy individuals,” Koch added.

Koch explained that many of these programs are free to the community, and that Southern Brooklyn families cannot afford many of the more expensive options available.

“We do understand our families’ needs on both the practical and emotional levels, and we constantly seek for channels to provide families with as many free and low cost services and programs as possible,” said Koch.

Karreell Pereira, a Shorefront Y member, visits the community center weekly with her husband and young boys.  Her two sons, age seven and eight, were at the event as well, supporting after-school classmates.

“It means a lot to me, being around other parents. It opens my eyes. It shows me how other parents operate, and shows me how blessed I am,” Pereira said. “We are capable of making a drastic change. These programs need to be nourished and should be promoted.”

“They love it here,” she said. “It opens their eyes to what’s really going on in our community. It helps you see not only your situation, but other people’s situations.”

Currently, the Shorefront Y offers free after-school programs for children ages 5 to 13, a Sunday Funday social skills recreational program for children ages 5 to 12, and a series of other educational workshops for parents and families. They hope to support families in need.

Michelle Pisani-Hinojo said that rain or shine, she will support this walk for years to come. Her 11-year-old daughter, Amber, has autism.

“The weather put a damper on the event, but not on the spirit. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. The public is becoming aware. It feels good that people are willing to work together for awareness,” Pisani-Hinojo said.

“It’s symbolic, you know? Some days will be sunny days, and other day’s it’ll rain,” Pisani-Hinojo said. “Even on the bad days, you need to stay strong and still be supportive. We can’t give up.”

Source: The Snapper

The Shorefront Y will be teaming up with the Brooklyn Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative (BASDI) to host its Third Annual Walk for Autism, this Sunday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m. along the Coney Island boardwalk, starting at West 10th Street. Registration starts at 10:00 a.m.

The annual walk aims to raise awareness and funds in order to create new programs and maintain vital ongoing services and programs to families living with autism and other developmental disabilities. All proceeds from the walk will benefit programs at participating BASDI organizations serving children with special needs throughout southern Brooklyn.

The 1.2 mile walk will conclude at the Shorefront Y, 3300 Coney Island Avenue, where there will be a chance to learn more about special needs programming, network with peers, and enjoy refreshments.

To register for this event, or to make a pledge, click here. To learn more about the Shorefront Y, visit

Source: Google Maps

A Coney Island church that played a major role Sandy relief efforts is now in need of help, according to a story in The New York World.

According to the article, the largest church in Coney Island, the Coney Island Gospel Assembly at 2828 Neptune Avenue, opened its doors following Sandy to be filled with supplies such as canned foods and bottled water and had medical staff working inside. Later, the Red Cross set up just outside the church.

Even before Sandy, the church had deep roots serving the community’s neediest.

Over the years the church had hosted a variety of social services within its walls, including a homeless shelter, summer activities for children, a truancy reduction program and a food distribution service run by Operation Blessing, the Rev. Pat Robertson’s nonprofit. She has counseled families through addictions, illnesses and interventions, and more gang-related deaths than she can count.

The church may have been a lifesaver to those affected by the storm, but it too could use a helping hand. The basement of the church had flooded, causing $1.5 million in damages.

According to the article, the church has received some of the generosity that it has been giving out. In November, it received $125,000 from a non-profit organization called Mercury One and in December it received $75,000 from the Robin Hood Foundation.

These donations have made a difference but the church is still struggling.

The church is currently surviving on weekly offerings at Sunday service. It can’t apply for a loan because there is no way to pay back the money. FEMA can’t help because a house of worship is not eligible for aid, although the House of Representatives has passed a bill that may change this.

Source: LA Boxing Brooklyn / Facebook

Our friends at LA Boxing of Brooklyn (16 Brighton 11th Street), which will soon celebrate its grand opening, dropped us a note saying that they will host a Women’s Self Defense seminar which will benefit local ladies in need of some butt-kicking knowledge, as well as local charities.

Taught by WEC Lightweight Champion “Razor” Rob McCullough, the seminar will walk attendees through the basics of self-defense. It will take place on Sunday, February 10, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

According to their Facebook page, it’s a free event, but they’re asking for a voluntary donation of $15, which will be given to New York Cares, Chabad of Manhattan Beach and other organizations. Call (718) 975-7100 to reserve a spot.

The following was submitted by Sheepshead Bay resident Jeanine Grimaldi, whose family wrestles with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease every day.

Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans. Although this disease is most commonly known for its major symptom — memory loss — it comprises so much more. Typical Alzheimer’s patients feel disoriented, confused and, have drastic mood and behavior changes. They can often become suspicious of family members and friends and, during the later stages of the disease, have difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

These symptoms are caused by plaques and tangles, two different types of proteins that build up in the brain. Scientists do not fully understand this build-up but believe it plays a critical role in blocking communication among nerve cells in the brain. We still have a long way to go in beating this disease, but we are heading in the right direction. On May 15, 2012, the Obama Administration released the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s in which the major goal is to effectively treat and prevent this disease by 2025.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently more than 320,000 people over the age of 65 in New York alone who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This number does not include the growing number of people in their 50s who have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

Continue Reading »


Community Board 15′s coach, Tony Scavo, husband of Chairperson Theresa Scavo, was already grumbling when I showed up an inning or two into the charity softball game, in which the Board faced off against the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association.

Donning a black CB15 baseball cap, Scavo turned and spat, “This isn’t a baseball game. What is this? They got all the ringers!”

I waited for him to chuck the cap on the ground and start kicking it in the clay, but he never did.

And, indeed, Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association – which organized the event to raise funds for Bay Academy Junior High School – had a roster of stars that stole the game.

MBNA scored 20. Community Board 15? Just nine.

Of course, they all were winners, having helped raise between $1,200 and $1,500 for the neighborhood school. The group will present a check to a Bay Academy rep at their next meeting.

The game ain’t just about money, though, said MBNA spokersperson Edmond Dweck.

“It serves many purposes; bringing together the community, friends and family. It gives everyone a good chance to enjoy the day. And more people seem to be attending,” he said. “It’s good to see that we’re akcnowledging good contributions back to the community, and, of course, the ultimate goal of providig more benefits for the children in our neighborhood schools.”

Our friends at the Shorefront Y, the Kings Bay Y and the Marks JCH of Bensonhurst are putting together their second annual Walk for Autism event, slated for April 22. In advance of the event, they’ve asked us to help get the word out to local about how they can get signed up to help this great cause.

You can register at the Shorefront Y’s website, or call (718) 646-1444 ext. 406.

The walk benefits Southern Brooklyn families who cannot afford to pay for special needs programs as the government continues to slash away at free programs. So by participating, you’re helping out neighbors who need it the most.

The walk itself is 1.2 miles along the Coney Island Boardwalk, beginning at the Aquarium. Here’s the flier:

Joe Savarese, with son Christopher and Mocha the bear. Photos by Erica Sherman

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers, who would have been 84 years old today.

On St. Patrick’s Day, lifelong Marine Park resident Joseph Savarese, 39, rose before dawn on a foggy Saturday morning to quietly get his head shaved at Lucky’s Place barber shop on Quentin Road and East 31st Street.

He has done this every year for the past seven years.

The annual ritual of shaving his head is Savarese’s way of showing solidarity with children who suffer from cancer, part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven cancer charity.

And this year it had a very personal meaning.

Last month, many years after being diagnosed with the disease, an uncle of whom the soft-spoken Savarese was particularly fond, succumbed from the ravaging effects of cancer.

“He was battling two forms of cancer for the past 13-15 years. The cancer shattered his left leg last year,” Savarese said in an email, and, in early February, doctors discovered that his uncle’s spine also “had hair line cracks in it.”

See more photos and find out more about Savarese and his fundraising efforts.

A life cut short: Joseph Avena (center) with his two children, Joey and Charlize. Source: Facebook

They are the words no mother should ever have to say: “On Christmas morning God called my son, Joseph, to join Him in Heaven.”

But that was the December 27 Facebook status the broken-hearted Kathleen Ann Avena posted about her son Joseph “Joey” Avena, a beloved husband to Derryl, and father to two young children, Charlize, 10, and Joey, eight. The elder Joey Avena — who listed “Braveheart” as his favorite movie on MySpace, and who loved the Jets, watching “Spongebob Squarepants” with his children, and playing poker — was laid to rest after his loved ones said final goodbyes to him on December 28 at Scarpaci Funeral Home, 86th Street and 14th Avenue in Bensonhurst.

Click to enlarge. Photo by Erica Sherman

Now, Joey Avena’s two grief-stricken brothers, Anthony and Richie, are organizing the “Friend In Need Benefit,” a community-wide fundraiser at the Tamaqua Bar & Marina, February 18 from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., to benefit their departed sibling’s children and family. Admission to the “Friend In Need Benefit” is $20, which includes free food, a DJ, raffles, 50/50, and, organizers hope, a live band.

All proceeds from the door cover will be given to the children, and monies generated from the event will go directly to the family to help them overcome the difficult financial situation they are in. Additionally, the Avena family has set up a page on, an online payment platform, which allows people to securely make donations online:

Our goal is to raise funds to help support Joey’s family with the financial struggles that lie ahead for them. Donations of any size are welcome. Your donation will help us achieve our goal of helping out the Avena family in their time of need. All donations and contributors to the event will be publicly acknowledged. It is much appreciated by the entire Avena family. Charlize and Joey have a hard road ahead of them, but you can help make it a little better!

If you can’t make it to the event. This is a great way to participate. We are using to collect our donations. It’s super convenient, simple, and secure. If you have any questions, please email

With just a few more days left prior to the “Friend In Need Benefit,” the Avena family has collected $890 on WePay toward their goal of $1,000.

According to Kathleen Ann Avena, “My sons, Anthony and Richie, really want to make this happen in honor of their brother who they are heartbroken over having lost. They NEED you to make this possible and I hope to see you and your friends there.”

The Tamaqua Club & Marina is located at 84 Ebony Court in Gerritsen Beach.

To learn more, contact Richie Avena at (917) 755-2581 or Maura Buckley at (917) 855-4683, or email Buckley at

This year's Annual Walk to End Alzheimer's, on the Coney Island Boardwalk. (Source: Jeanine Grimaldi)

The following was submitted by Jeanine Grimaldi, a Sheepshead Bay resident whose family wrestles with the effects of Alzheimer’s every day.

November starts Alzheimer’s Awareness month, a disease that affects more than 5.4 million people, including more than 320,000 individuals over the age of 65 in New York State alone. This issue is important to me because my grandmother Mary, a longtime Sheepshead Bay resident, has been fighting Alzheimer’s disease for the past 10 years. She does not remember my name, but when I take her near the water in Sheepshead Bay she tells me she remembers coming here all the time when she was a little girl. Through caring for my grandmother and spending time learning about Alzheimer’s, I know that we have a lot of work to do to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

Most people equate memory loss with Alzheimer’s, but it’s so much more than that. Eventually, individuals with Alzheimer’s will have impaired judgment, feel disoriented and confused and have difficulty speaking. Behavioral changes also occur, causing your loved one to act in ways that are out of the norm for his or her personality. During the later stages, chewing, swallowing and walking can become difficult.

Find out more about Alzheimer’s research, and how you can help.

« Prev - Next »