Archive for the tag 'volunteering'

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

For the fifth year in a row, the Be Proud Foundation will host its annual Passover Food Distribution Event, tomorrow, April 10, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center, 2753 Coney Island Avenue.

More than 600 people of limited means will join Be Proud and its friends at the annual event. Recipients will be able to take home kosher food packages for Passover, including matzah, the “bread of affliction” and symbol of salvation and deliverance.

This event is made possible because of the generosity of private donations.

“Passover is the best time for us to show that we care about our neighbors. By giving out food we are going to share our happiness with the people who count on us more than ever in this current economic climate,” said Raisa Chernina, executive director of the Be Proud Foundation.

In celebration of the fourth anniversary of “Mary Powell Memorial Day in Brooklyn, USA,” folksinger Danny Quinn will perform traditional Irish and contemporary music Wednesday, March 19, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Carmine Carro Community Center, 3000 Fillmore Avenue in Marine Park.

Powell, the long-time president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association, passed away on February 12, 2010. The Brooklyn native set an example of dignity and dogged determination that was inspirational to all who knew her throughout her 91 years.

The public is invited to celebrate the legacy of this civic leader, whose lifetime of dedicating herself to her community inspired the creation of the Mary Powell Foundation, which encourages and promotes community service.

The Mary Powell Foundation will also be celebrating the roots of their organization and showing appreciation to donors and supporters, many from Brooklyn and Marine Park, whose generosity helped to fund four scholarships and awards in 2013 to deserving students at Columbia University, a Brooklyn high school and two Marine Park junior high schools.

Please RSVP by calling Richard at (856) 630-9089 or emailing rssle@yahoo.com. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to learn more about and help the Mary Powell Foundation, visit www.marypowellfoundation.org. You can also “like” them on Facebook.

ridersThe Riders Alliance, an advocacy organization for subway and bus riders, is launching an initiatve to bring together Southern Brooklyn straphangers to demand improved public transportation services.

To kick off the initiative, they’re holding a brainstorming session on March 27, at 7:00 p.m., at the Homecrest Presbyterian Church (1413 Avenue T). It’s an any-idea-goes kind of event.

The group has been going neighborhood to neighborhood since it formed in 2012 and setting up local, grassroots coalitions to advocate for improved service.

From their website:

We believe that lawmakers respond best to their own constituents, and that an organized group of local residents, trained and empowered to demand results, fills an important gap in transit advocacy, helping win the sustainable, long-term funding needed to fix public transit in New York.

You can sign up to attend  here. There’ll be snacks.

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Remember that awesome SING! competition we told you about last month? Brooklyn Sings!, an inter-SING event in which students from Midwood, Madison and Murrow high schools competed against each other for best student-created stage production, took place this past Saturday and students raised more than $20,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.

According to organizers, the event made history as the largest one-night fundraiser for the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team, with that boatload of money raised through ticket sales, raffles and direct donations.

Edward R. Murrow High School’s team won the event, with a show that brought seniors and freshman together to defeat an evil villain in “MurrowWarts.” Madison entertained with a trip to Toyland, and Midwood took the audience 10 years forward for a terrifying reunion. Every bit of the production was student-created.

A huge hurrah for the students at these three schools. They all worked hard, and for a great cause.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Three major Southern Brooklyn high schools are banding together to hold the first-ever inter-SING! competition, called Brooklyn Sings!, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

As any Brooklyn public high school graduate knows, SING! competitions can dominate school culture, bringing in students at every level to plan and produce a musical-production based on a different theme each year. The grades compete against each other for bragging rights.

What many may not know is that SING!, now a phenomenon at high schools across the greater New York City area, is a distinctly Southern Brooklyn creation, first established at Midwood High School in 1947 by music teacher Bella Tillis. The 1989 film Sing is based on the Brooklyn traditions, and SING! alumni include Barbra Streisand, Paul Simon, Tim Robbins, Paul Reiser and Neil Diamond.

Midwood, Madison and Murrow are all well-known for their grandiose productions that can involve hundreds of students.

Brooklyn Sings!, the inter-school event, is being created to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was conceived by the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team and one of its organizers, Joe Gillette.

“Our Relay for Life team is so thankful to each of these amazing schools for taking on BROOKLYN SINGS!  We know this event will be great for all the talented students, the schools and the community as a whole as we all unite and give of ourselves for a worthy cause,” Gillete said in a press release. “We encourage anyone who wants to get involved with our Relay for Life organization to join us as we strive to make a difference in our schools and community.”

“SING began in Midwood in 1947.  Mrs. Belle Tillis (who passed away last year 15 days shy of her 100th birthday) is credited with bringing SING to Midwood,” said Midwood Principal Michael McDonnell. “For the last 60 + years, our student body has sung, danced and acted their way towards winning the annual SING competition.  In fact the organizers of all the schools’ SINGs were Midwood students who had participated in Midwood SING.  So it is with great honor and responsibility that along with the help of Relay for Life, we get to “throw down the gauntlet” to our neighboring schools.”

Anyone interested in supporting one of the school’s fundraising efforts for the ACS can make a tax deductible donation by visiting the team page of their favorite school.

For Midwood visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/midwoodsings;
For Madison visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/madisonsings
For Murrow visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/murrowsings

The event will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. at Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L). Tickets will be sold through each school, and go one sale February 24.

Today's snow, as seen from West 4th Street near Avenue T (Photo by Michael Louis)

Today’s snow, as seen from West 4th Street near Avenue T (Photo by Michael Louis)

A staffer in one of our elected officials’ offices pitched me an idea earlier today: start a registry on our website of volunteers willing to help elderly and disabled residents dig out from the snow storm.

The staffer told me that they’ve been receiving calls all morning, but that their office couldn’t do anything – including recommend a pay service, since such a recommendation from a public office would be inappropriate.

But why should I create a registry? The City of New York already has one.

It’s right here on the New York City Service website. I knew that but the staffer didn’t. Because the city has done a shoddy job publicizing it.

And, as a result, it’s totally useless at the moment. I called the most local partner listed on the website, the Brighton Neighborhood Association, and the one person in the office – who was closing up shop – said they never once had a volunteer come through it. And so I called the number at City Hall to register as a volunteer just to see how the process went – and they, too were closed.

With the number of snow storms we’ve already had in 2014, it might be time for the city to reactivate that program and make a big push. The point is to help elderly and disabled residents – both by ensuring they have a clean path to walk on, and also to prevent them from receiving fines from the city. That’s a great goal, and with virtually no cost to taxpayers.

My hope is that this post spurs a few kind, generous individuals to register for service in future snow storms, and also to get local elected officials’ offices to sign up as partners to help direct and mobilize the volunteers. It’s not unheard of – Bronx Councilman James Vacca and Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis both use their offices in this way.

I look forward to seeing our local elected officials join that list very soon, and also help in the recruitment of local volunteers. If they do, this site commits to publicizing the registry in future storms. How’s that for a deal?

Earlier this month we published an article on the feral cat situation in Coney Island, especially around the boardwalk. Josie Marrero, a local who founded a cat rescue program called Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, spends much of her time taking care of the cats in the area. But as winter sets in and Sandy- and development-related construction in the area continues, her job has gone from maintaining a population to saving them. We previously wrote:

But now, they face an additional problem. Several abandoned Coney Island parking lots – a favored home of many feral felines – are in the process of being bulldozed, and with the winter chill in full-swing, many of the stray cats that have made these lots their sanctuary will again have to relocate. Already, the bulldozing has started at Surf Avenue and West 33rd Street.

All of which, Marrero explains in the video above, has turned the area into a “killing field” for the hundreds of cats. We put together the video above to chronicle Marrero’s efforts.

Students from St. Mark School served as Santa's little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

Students from St. Mark School served as Santa’s little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

The Bay Improvement Group’s  23rd annual concert and toy drive on Sunday saw hundreds of toys piled on stage as Vince Martell of Vanilla Fudge jammed for the crowd.

The 225 toys collected will go to a shelter for battered women and their children located in the heart of Sheepshead Bay. It’s a toy drive in our community that ensures toys stay with the needy of our community, said BIG Executive Director Steve Barrison.

“We have a battered women’s shelter down the block and they were not getting anything [from other drives]. And that’s really the heart of it,” Barrison told Sheepshead Bites at the event, which took place in the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus (3000 Emmons Avenue). “We’ve got to fill the need right here in our own community, and we know where the toys go.”

The event started 23 years ago, when Barrison and Martell, who previously met at a diner, decided to spend the holiday season driving around in a limo, popping out at random places and singing to pedestrians for donations for children’s toys. Since then, the event has moved around the neighborhood, including the old Lundy’s restaurant, various local businesses, several years at St. Mark School and now, for the first time, at the Knights.

One of Fidler’s elves at last year’s toy drive.

Councilman Lewis Fidler’s Democratic Club, the 41st Assembly District Democrats, is putting out the final call for toys as the grand finale party nears on Thursday.

Now in its 13th year, the annual toy drive has grown to become the largest Toys for Tots drive in New York City for seven years running. Last year, they collected more than 9,000 toys, a record they hope to beat again this year.

Their efforts have been helped by several smaller “feeder” drives, including one done by the Kings Bay Y and another by the Be Proud Foundation (Be Proud’s collection event is today, at 6:00 p.m. at Signature Restaurant [2007 Emmons Avenue]. Those interested in donating can stop by with an unwrapped, unopened toy or a check made out to Be Proud Foundation).

The event culminates with a massive party at the clubhouse at 2952 Avenue R on Thursday, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. It’s a great time for kids, who get to mingle with Mr. Met and Sandy the Seagull, and is capped off with an “elf show” and the loading of toys into the U.S. Marines’ 18-wheeled military cargo truck. Last year’s loading took more than an hour.

If you’d like to make a donation or have questions about the drive, call Bryan at (917) 846-1944.

Cleanup060

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey brought together more than 80 students and their parents from Manhattan Beach’s Mazel Day School for a cleanup of Holocaust Memorial Park.

Aside from tidying up the place, the event was held to commemorate the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which left Mazel’s former Brighton Beach location in tatters.

“This was a great lesson for the children,” Cymbrowitz said of the event, via a press release. “After destruction, there can be new life.”

Supplies for the event were provided by the Parks Department, and the children planted tulip and daffodil bulbs, leaving the park free of litter and weeds.

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