Archive for the tag 'volunteers'

Ed Eisenberg at the 2010 Sheepshead Bay Memorial Day Parade

For more than 40 years he was entwined in the fabric of the Southern Brooklyn community. He was ever-present at community meetings, where he was frequently recognized for stellar attendance. He was a member of numerous civic groups; so many that no one can list them all. He rubbed elbows, and sometimes chewed out, politicians including every Brooklyn borough president from Howard Golden to Eric Adams, and too many councilmembers, state legislators and congressmen to count. He charmed with self-deprecating jokes, and had a habit of starting conversations smack-dab in the middle of it. And he loved his local parks, his waterfront and his community up until he drew his final breath.

Longtime community activist Edward “Eddie” Eisenberg passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 79 years old, after being admitted to Maimonides Medical Center with heart-related complications.

“It was just his biggest passion to have everything clean and safe around here. To the very end. Lord knows, even when he was losing it at the end, he wanted his attache case because he had the results of the previous Community Board elections in there,” said Leigh Eisenberg, 42, the younger of Eisenberg’s two sons.

Born in Flatbush in 1934, Eisenberg attended private high schools before obtaining an associate degree at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.

Eisenberg in Fort Ord, Salinas, California

As armistice negotiations were being finalized on the Korean peninsula, Eisenberg enlisted in the United States Army and served at Fort Ord in Salinas, California, where he worked as an information specialist from 1954 to 1956.

He returned to his home borough and began his career as a salesman of packaging supplies. He met his wife, Eileen, now 74, at a singles event and the two married in 1965. They moved to Manhattan Beach shortly afterwards.

Eisenberg took to civic involvement in his adopted neighborhood with a fervor “as soon as they moved into the neighborhood,” said Leigh. “He loved Manhattan Beach and he really just always wanted to see it well maintained and safe from the moment he moved into the area.”

No one can recall exactly when he joined Community Board 15, but the lowest estimates of his tenure from friends and family put it at 38 years, easily making him the longest-serving member of the 50-person body – and perhaps the most passionate.

“I just remember as a little kid, he was so involved taking us kids fishing at Kingsborough Community College, sharing his passion for the water around the neighborhood. He just couldn’t help out in the community enough,” said Leigh.

His chief concern, Scavo said, was in lobbying the city to invest in parks.

“He always, always wanted parks – that was his shtick in life. Not transportation, parks. That was it. Every meeting, you had to support the parks, he was very, very, very involved with Parks Department issues,” said Scavo. “He was always crazed with parks.”

Former Councilman Lew Fidler, who recommended Eisenberg for reappointment to the Board in recent years, added that Eisenberg stood out for his eagerness to go above and beyond in considering Board matters.

“He was always vocal about getting to the bottom of every land use issue that came before the Board. He was so committed that when an application came before the Board he would visit the site and talk to neighbors about what they thought about the project,” said Fidler. “It really didn’t matter to him if it was across the street in Manhattan Beach or all the way in Homecrest. It makes you wonder how good a Community Board could be if every member took it as seriously as Ed.”

Local elected officials have issued statements on Eisenberg’s passing.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz posted on Facebook:

He knew the details of every community meeting and neighborhood event, almost before they were scheduled. He was generous of spirit, always eager to help and ferociously proud of the community he called home. My condolences to his wife, Eileen, and everyone who knew and loved him. Ed, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch said the following in a press release:

“I’ve known Ed for a long time, and have always admired the passion he held for his favorite part of Brooklyn,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, his two sons, and all the friends he’s left behind. Manhattan Beach will never be the same.”

Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement as well:

My sincerest condolences go to out to Ed’s wife, children and relatives, as well as the larger South Brooklyn family that knew and loved his commitment to the community. From his service to our country to his deep civic engagement, Ed left a legacy for all of us to admire. He was the epitome of the volunteer spirit, an example for Brooklynites today and tomorrow to follow.

Eisenberg’s idiosyncrasies and sense of humor will be as well remembered as his advocacy.

“Ed was, if nothing else, a unique character,” Fidler remembered. “And for whatever else people want to say about Ed, he really cared about his community and his family. He used to speak about his son in Australia all the time. Quirky, of course, but you couldn’t really question where his heart was. Community was his whole life outside his family.”

Scavo remembers the costumes, stuff of legend among those involved in local civic life. Eisenberg kept a closet full of costumes, which he donned at annual gatherings over the years.

“Night Out Against Crime was always the Keystone Cop. When it came to Memorial Day, he always used to pull out Army uniforms. He always had Halloween masks and costumes, and no matter what he had a costume to go with that occasion,” she said.

His quirks did not escape his family’s notice, and they remain fond memories in the wake of his passing.

“Everyone knew him. Lord knows the man was eccentric but he had a heart as big as the moon and everyone knew it,” said Leigh Eisenberg.

Eisenberg is survived by his wife, Eileen; his eldest son, Glenn, 46, who with his wife Simone gave Eisenberg a grandson, Aaron, 2; and his youngest son, Leigh, who with his wife Jill gave Eisenberg two granddaughters, Raya, 11, and Anissa, 9. Eisenberg is also survived by his sisters Marianne and Lisa, and his brother Steve.

A service will be held for Ed Eisenberg on Tuesday, March 4, at 1:00 p.m. at Parkside Memorial Chapels (2576 Flatbush Avenue, at the corner of Avenue V). The family has chosen not to direct donations, saying that Ed had cared for too many things to pick just one, and requested that anyone wishing to make a donation send them to any community-oriented charities or groups.

Update (March 3 at 2:30 p.m.): A statement from Borough President Eric Adams was added to this post.

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?

gateway cleanup thesca org via dailynews

Teens from the Student Conservation Association. (Source: thesca.org via nydailynews.com)

Teenagers, banded together in the Student Conservation Association (SCA), picked up shovels and handcarts and began cleaning up Jamaica Bay and other parts of the Gateway National Recreational Area. The New York Daily News is reporting that the volunteer teens have been spending their precious summer vacation days making a difference for the environment with some hard work.

The SCA, founded in 1957, is a nonprofit group that culls teenagers looking to join conservation efforts across the country. The latest effort had teens work in an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy as part of the Sandy Project.

The Daily News described the length and nature of the project, as well as the reaction of the teens involved thus far:

The Sandy Project started July 8 and will end Aug. 15. The 50 students have been working 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and wrapping up each week with environmental lessons on Friday.

“We encourage them to see more of the parks and beautiful places around the city,” said [Diane] Stanley. “They have been to several talks about conservation and sustainability, and we also sent them to the Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Aquarium and Botanical Garden.”

Students have also been working on clean-up crews at Sandy Hook, N.J., and Staten Island.

“There was no lack of interest from the students,” Stanley said. “In fact, we had to turn some people down. To be able to get pay to do positive work after a hurricane from which many of them suffered the consequences, was something really special.”

Their work has already helped Rocky Point Marsh, Jacob Riis and Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach, among other areas in Jamaica Bay and other damaged areas in the city.

Great job to all the teenagers involved and keep up the good work.

Lew Fidler (Photo By Erica Sherman)

Lew Fidler (Photo By Erica Sherman)

If you lead or are a member of a Superstorm Sandy volunteer or relief group, Councilman Lew Fidler is urging you to apply for a Hurricane Relief Grant. Work towards recovering from Sandy is far from finished, and the Citizens Committee for New York City is doling out grants upwards of $2,000 to support volunteer relief efforts.

The Citizens Committee for New York City released the following statement on the purpose for the grants and information on how to apply for them:

We are offering this short-term, high-impact grant opportunity because we understand that Sandy relief efforts go beyond the immediate aftermath. The grants are to help increase the overall capacity of volunteer groups to provide relief to hurricane-impacted areas and to support specific projects that address hurricane-related damage to community spaces (for example: waterfronts, sidewalks, school grounds, community gardens, parks).

The grants are for existing or newly formed volunteer-led groups. Citizens Committee will not award grants to individuals or families.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, up to 11:59PM on Thursday August 1. We encourage groups to submit applications earlier.

Groups will be notified of our grant decision within 3 days of application submission. Grant checks will be distributed within 7 days of notification.

Approved projects must be completed by October 16, 2013.

You can download an online application for the grant by clicking here.

Also, for more information you can contact sshah@citizensnyc.org or call 212-822-9566.

Best of luck to all applicants.

sb_sandys_bar

Gerritsen Beach — ignored in the initial wake of Superstorm Sandy — will be getting a little help from their friends in a very big way this week.

The tight-knit neighborhood, which suffered unprecedented damages despite being classified as Zone B flood area (a secondary flood plain where evacuation was not mandatory), will benefit from a one-day volunteer event to help rebuild homes and community areas with the help of the Meredith Corporation, Thursday, June 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness and Every Day with Rachael Ray is partnering with the non-profit organization Rebuilding Together and Lowe’s to mobilize more than 500 volunteers, who will provide badly-needed repair work to a dozen homes, the community center that houses the Vollies (the last volunteer fire department in Brooklyn), and Kiddie Beach.

According to a press release from Meredith Corporation, “Seven months after Hurricane Sandy, vital community areas are still damaged, and many residents are displaced and unable to take on the significant repairs needed for them to return to their homes. This project aims to bring long-term recovery and much-needed repairs to this historic working class neighborhood.”

Volunteers will be working on 14 projects around the community, including:

  • Renovating a dozen homes damaged during the storm. Many of the homeowners are life-long residents of Gerritsen Beach, like Jean Nelson who is the widow of a WWII veteran and has lived in the neighborhood since 1948.
  • Providing upgrades and repairs to a local community center that supports the last volunteer fire company in Brooklyn.
  • Cleaning up and rebuilding recreation areas in Kiddie Beach, a beloved gathering spot for locals during the summer.
  • Revitalizing a community park and garden area.
  • Providing much-needed services including yard work, painting, fence installation and playground rehabilitation.

Photo by Max Bolotov.

On Thursday, in light of National Volunteer Week, State Senator Marty Golden held an appreciation dinner honoring dozens of those neighbors who lent at hand in Gerritsen Beach in the terrifying hours after Superstorm Sandy battered the New York coastline, despite the fact that many of them suffered their own trials due to the storm’s waters.

Golden handed out citations at Buckley’s Restaurant (2926 Avenue S) to “community residents who have proven  to  be  extraordinary  in  their volunteerism, dedicated to helping during Hurricane Sandy, special events and community organizations,” including Father Farrell of Resurrection Church, who opened the institution’s doors to serve as an evacuation center and shelter.

Also honored was Rose Coulson from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who organized opening the facility despite its disrepair from the storm, and rallied volunteers and services to help the community.

Linda Cupo and Tracy Ambrose from the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners and Volunteer Fire Department were manning the Vollies Hall everyday throughout the aftermath of the storm, serving hot meals and doling out supplies.

John Murphy was a huge help running the shelter at Resurrection Church, acting as the director of the shelter spending countless hours at the church during the first week following the storm.  He continued to volunteer at the Ancient Order of Hibernians, following the closing of the Resurrection Shelter.

View the full list of honorees, and a photo gallery from the event.

311 CampaignThe Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is conducting the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) on January 28, when they will survey to find a point-in-time estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless individuals in New York City. Here’s their call for volunteers:

With one week left until the count, we need your help!

DHS still needs volunteers to make HOPE 2013 a success and the participation of our past volunteers is very important.  As a past volunteer, we are asking for your help again. Volunteers commit to assist us overnight on Monday, January 28, 2013 from 10:30 pm until 4:00 am. If you haven’t signed up for HOPE 2013, please consider helping us on this very important night.

HOPE is critical to helping DHS evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies to overcome street homelessness as well as developing appropriate housing resources for the most vulnerable New Yorkers currently living without shelter. HOPE’s methodology has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the gold standard and I am proud to say that this is in large part due to your help.

Registration for HOPE, and the results from last year, can be found on the DHS homepage at www.nyc.gov/dhs or directly by clicking here. Questions regarding this event can also be sent to the HOPE Team at HOPE@dhs.nyc.gov or by calling 212-607-5366.

I hope that you will join us on this night in our efforts towards ending homelessness in New York City.

Let’s make it count!

Sincerely,

The HOPE Team
NYC Department of Homeless Services

 

Jumpin’ Bean on Emmons Avenue, Occupy Sandy’s Sheepshead Bay base of operations.

The folks at Occupy Sandy have done a fine job in setting up camp in Sheepshead Bay following the devastation wrought by the superstorm, and now they have put a call out for more volunteers to help with their recovery efforts.

The group put out a notice for those looking to do volunteer in the following areas:

We need volunteers to help with staffing the supply table, muckouts, garbage clean-up and removing debris from people’s homes, door-to-door needs assessments, on-site data entry (please bring laptop), demolition (prior experience required), mold remediation (prior experience required).

Occupy Sandy’s base of meeting is at Jumpin’ Bean,  3081 Emmons Avenue, and are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. On site training is provided.

For more information, visit their website by clicking here. If you’d like to sign-up directly, you can visit Occupy Sandy’s scheduling volunteer page by clicking here.

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

For some people, Hurricane Sandy came and went, barely disrupting their lives or neighborhoods. Others, especially the elderly living in Brighton Beach and Coney Island, were not nearly as lucky. A report in the New York Daily News chronicles the weeks-long nightmare that elderly New York City Housing Authority residents have faced in Sandy’s aftermath.

Virtual prisoners of their own apartments, scores of seniors were shut in their homes without power, heat, hot water, and medical supplies, and had no one coming by to check in on or assist them. New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio blames the mayor’s office and NYCHA for failing to do a more extensive door to door check of people’s homes affected by shortages of essential needs.

The city claims to have visited more than 65,000 apartments, with 42,000 of those being NYCHA properties. However, de Blasio told The Daily News that the effort wasn’t enough. “They’re missing whole parts of the city. It’s scattershot. We hear it over and over: ‘No one has knocked on our door.’”

Those the city missed include Irine Lombardo, a 74-year-old Coney Island resident forced to evacuate her flood-damaged apartment to a friend in Brighton Beach. During the storm, she lost her oxygen tanks, and when forced to relocat to a friend’s fifth floor apartment in Brighton Beach, she had no access to electricity, heat, or hot water, leaving her trapped and vulnerable, and without proper medical care.

Irine’s friend, Olga Romanov, told The Daily News that, “Nobody came to us from the city. Nobody came to us from NYCHA.”

Through the combined efforts of de Blasio’s office and volunteers from the Physicians for a National Health Program, Lombardo finally got her oxygen tanks this past Sunday.

Fillmore Cares volunteers canvass the bungalow colonies on Emmons Avenue.

Sure, Occupy Sandy has now discovered Sheepshead Bay, and is making the rounds in the bungalow colonies and co-ops along Emmons Avenue while residents still wait to see FEMA or Red Cross in the neighborhood. But before they were there, Fillmore Cares, a volunteer group organized by Fillmore Real Estate, mobilized to give residents some much-needed help.

Brooklyn’s largest real estate company, headquartered here in Sheepshead Bay at 2990 Avenue U, turned on a dime in the hours after Hurricane Sandy devastated the community. They went from corporate headquarters to volunteer central, raising money, recruiting help and rapidly deploying a website to help coordinate efforts.

Initially, the organization focused on the hardest hit areas, like Breezy Point, Seagate and Staten Island. But with deep roots in Sheepshead Bay, they wanted to ensure that at least some of their resources went to neighbors.

After hitting a wall when they tried to find out what areas of Sheepshead Bay needed help, they turned to Sheepshead Bites. We had been trying to find a group to canvass Emmons Avenue, making visits to neighbors and delivering goods. When Fillmore called, we sent them that way.

Here’s what one of the group’s organizers (and Fillmore’s director of Business Development and Technology) Zane Burnett had to say after their first day of canvassing Emmons Avenue last week:

I was shocked by the amount of people who hadn’t been reach out to. One woman, who is immobile, told us that she hadn’t had a hot meal since the storm. We were the first person who actually knocked on her door to check on her.

Another woman told us that her neighbors, an elderly couple, slept without heat in the same room every night huddled up next to one another, waiting for someone to come and turn their heat back on. 3 nights ago, the elderly gentleman died of a heart attack.

The stories go on and on, and the good news is that we were able to write down the needs of 16 families who were still in their home and said they needed aid. Half of them were elderly. All of them said that no one had come by asking if they needed anything.

… Really man, I’ve been going crazy in Breezy and Coney Island for the last week and I had no idea ShBay has received such little attention. A couple of houses in the Courts have burned down due to electrical problems. Thank you for letting me know about it… we hope to get to everyone else tomorrow.

The group is still operating in the area, and now that other organizations, like Occupy Sandy and COJECO have started to become active in the area, Fillmore Cares is collaborating to prevent duplicating effort.

Fillmore Cares still needs volunteers above all else, so sign up at their website. They’re also accepting donations, and, if you’re a victim, you can request aid there as well.

In the meantime, our sincerest thanks to Fillmore Real Estate, Fillmore Cares, Zane Burnett, Fillmore President John Reinhardt and all the volunteers who’ve been helping out.

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