Crystal Walthall goes On The Record

Crystal Walthall has been working for Faith in New York (FINY), an organization that works with people of all faiths by empowering them through social justice and community organizing.Walthall has worked with FINY for 7 years and recently became Executive Director in 2019. Faith in New York is the NYC affiliate of Faith in Action. With many members of different faiths and ideas, the main common ground is the passion for social justice in their communities. 

“Though we each come to this work from different religious practices, cultures, races, even languages, what unites us is a fundamental belief that we are called as people of faith to seek the work of justice and liberation in our communities,” said Walthall. “It compels us to put our faith into action, to reach beyond the 4 walls of our houses of worship to be active voices and agents of transformation.”

FINY has currently been working on certain issue areas on both a local and National level, such as immigration work to ensure that immigrant families have access to resources that sustain families, expand rights, and ultimately create a pathway to citizenship. This work includes providing mutual aid cash assistance resources to eligible families, DACA workshops for community education, and working on a pathway to citizenship for essential workers. The nonprofit also works on civic engagement in terms of voting rights, ensuring that their communities have access to safe and fair elections to elect politicians that represent the needs and values of their communities. 

“This summer, we will begin a Season of Healing and Connection, a listening campaign to hear the issues that are impacting our communities and our vision for NYC after the pandemic,” Walthall said. “With this year being a pivotal election in NYC, this will also be an opportunity to hold our elected officials accountable to the issues that impact our communities most.”

To learn more about Faith in New York, visit

Jerry Drake, musician and mentor, passes away at 82

Jerome “Jerry” Drake  passed away on Thursday, June 24th from cancer at the age of 82. He was loved by his community and by the many music students he taught over the years. 

Drake shared a son, Mark with his first wife who passed away from leukemia and a daughter, Dara, with his wife of 40 years, Debbie. 

“He loved his family, his community, and his country,” Debbie told the paper. 

Drake was a United States Army Veteran and retired NYC Department of Education Music Teacher. Drake served for two years playing tuba and trumpet in the Army band where he performed for troops throughout the United States. 

Following discharge, Jerry spent five years as a music student in Chicago, graduating in 1970 with a Master’s in Music Education from DePaul University. After graduation, he embarked on a long and successful career in the music industry, working primarily in Queens. 

Drake played somewhere between 150 and 200 gigs annually for over twenty years while teaching full-time at New York City public schools. In 1998, Drake started his own group,  “The Front Page Big Band”, which played throughout New York City and recorded multiple albums.

 “Jerry had that special talent as a musician, combined with a passion to teach children the wonders of working together to produce band music,” said Walter Sanchez, Editor of the Queens Ledger. “His love for music touched so many of his students throughout the school district. He was a true teacher.”

Drake was not only known for his love of music but also for his dedication to the people of Queens. 

He served on Community Board 5 for fourteen years, and worked closely with the local police precinct and other groups to help ensure the safety of the community

“We appreciate his dedication to Maspeth and neighboring communities, and his love in spreading the joy of music,” said Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5. “He touched people in a very special way. May he never be forgotten.”

New mural at Industry City celebrates Asian-American artists

After a year-long delay, a new installation celebrating AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) culture, art, and artists is coming to Industry City in Brooklyn. Titled Home is Inside You, the show features murals from emerging artists throughout Industry City’s sprawling Sunset Park campus.

“The Collision Project [Industry City’s in-house art division] is delighted to work with such a talented group of artists hailing from the AAPI community whose diverse body of work across mediums adds to the cultural vibrancy of the campus,” said Haoran Chen from Industry City’s Design and Art Production team.

Home is Inside You features solo mural installations by young and experienced artists alike. The show debuts work from Jia Sung, a recent graduate and Brooklyn-based artist whose work focuses on Chinese mythology, traditional folklore, and Buddhist iconography. The show is also the first for Jocelyn Tsaih, a Taiwan-born, Shanghai-raised, and California-based artist whose work focuses on her diverse upbringing. Ariana Marino, an experienced magazine editor and illustrator, also has work on display

The installation was originally set to debut in the spring of 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Since that time, the importance of an exhibit about AAPI culture has only grown.

In response to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, Industry City has partnered with multiple non-profit organizations whose work will be promoted and advertised throughout the Home is Inside You show. These organizations include Heart of Dinner (a NY-based non-profit organization focused on delivering meals to Asian elderly), Cut Fruit Collective (a West Coast-based non-profit that supports Chinese businesses in the Bay Area) and Sakhi NYC (a New York-based non-profit focused on fighting domestic violence against South Asian women).

Industry City will also hold weekly fundraisers at the show and over Instagram to support these partner organizations. All of the money raised through these fundraisers will be matched by Industry City.

Despite the pandemic and the recent spike in hate crimes, Home is Inside You is designed to be a celebration of community and acceptance.

“Art has the power to capture culture in a unique way, and we are honored to work with these talented artists to share their work and message with our audience. We are also grateful for their partnership in bringing attention to the great work of these nonprofit organizations,” Industry City’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement Cristal Rivera told our paper.

Many of the works on display directly touch on these themes of community and understanding. For example, Jocelyn Tsaih’s mural installation titled “After The Rain” shows figures gathering amongst flowers blooming under rain drops, symbolizing a celebration of coming together after a prolonged period of isolation.

Home is Inside You is currently on display at Industry City and is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Admission is free.

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