A Beacon of Hope for Veterans Battling Addiction


Mohamed Farghaly

Samaritan Daytop Village’s Ed Thompson Veterans Program stands as a beacon of hope for veterans battling addiction and grappling with the aftermath of war.



In a quiet corner of Queens, lies a haven dedicated to healing the wounds of war that linger long after the battlefield fades from view. Samaritan Daytop Village, Ed Thompson Veterans Program located at 130-15 89th Rd, in Richmond Hill stands as a beacon of hope for military veterans grappling with the harrowing effects of drug and alcohol dependency, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other life challenges.

The organization is nationally recognized for its pioneering efforts in providing specialized treatment tailored to the unique needs of male veterans. Offering residential addiction treatment, Samaritan Daytop Village understands the profound bond shared among military comrades and leverages this camaraderie to facilitate recovery.

“Most of what we do here is based around community activity,” Roger D Walker, Program Director of Ed Thompson Veteran Program said. “We believe that community is the antidote to a lot of ailments, folks involved together, so everything we do is around that thing.”

Mohamed Farghaly

Located in Queens, New York, this haven offers specialized treatment tailored to the unique needs of male veterans, including mental health counseling and equine therapy.

At the heart of Samaritan Daytop Village’s approach is a commitment to evidence-based treatment grounded in the Sanctuary Model. This therapeutic philosophy acknowledges the prevalence of trauma and its profound impact on all facets of human existence. Emphasizing principles such as safety, respect, empowerment, and mutual self-help, the program fosters an environment conducive to healing and growth.

“Stabilization is a big part of what we do,” Deirdre Rice-Reese, Assistant Vice President of Residential Treatment said. “We make available medication that a person may need to help quell those urges and cravings for substances. We’ve developed a change team to monitor progress over time in specific areas like increasing retention.”

One of the hallmarks of Samaritan Daytop Village’s approach is its focus on community-based interventions. Recognizing that isolation can exacerbate the challenges faced by veterans, the organization strives to create a supportive network where individuals can draw strength from one another. From communal gatherings to leisure activities, every aspect of the program is designed to nurture a sense of self and camaraderie.

“Once they have dinner, there’s a house meeting at six o’clock, then general cleanup, just to get the kitchen and stuff clear,” Walker said. “Then at downtime, watch TV, hang out, go in the backyard.”

The residential facilities at Samaritan Daytop Village provide a structured yet nurturing environment where veterans can embark on their journey of recovery. Each day begins with morning meetings and group sessions aimed at fostering a sense of solidarity and shared purpose. Throughout the day, residents engage in a variety of therapeutic activities, from equine therapy to recreational sports, aimed at promoting physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

“Therapeutic recreation dosing is critical,” Walker said. “They are a very competitive group of veterans. They are often playing intramural basketball against some of the others.”

Central to the program’s success is its holistic approach to treatment, which encompasses not only addiction recovery but also mental health support and medical care. A team of dedicated professionals, including nurses and case managers, ensures that residents receive comprehensive care tailored to their individual needs. From medication management to access to on-site medical clinics, every effort is made to support veterans on their path to recovery.

Beyond its residential facilities, Samaritan Daytop Village extends its services into the community, providing support to veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Through partnerships with VA hospitals, treatment courts, and other agencies, the organization ensures that veterans receive the care and assistance they need to rebuild their lives.

“We serve whoever has served, it’s not characterized by your discharge status which is helpful,” Rice-Reese said. “A lot of our discipline veterans are discharged in the military for alcohol and substance use disorders or mental health disorders which is not fair to them.”

 Trevor Badel, a former Army serviceman, has found refuge and support at Samaritan Daytop Village. Having spent three years in the program, Badel emphasizes its vital role as a lifeline for veterans in need. Recognizing the scarcity of veteran-centric programs, Badel sought help at Samaritan Daytop Village, where he found a comprehensive array of services, including mental health counseling and equine therapy sessions.

Mohamed Farghaly

With a commitment to evidence-based treatment and community-based interventions, Samaritan Daytop Village fosters an environment of healing, camaraderie, and growth.

“I just needed help at the time because I served in the Army, this place serves veterans,” Badel said. “I believe there wasn’t any other veterans program other than this one.”

For Badel, this program isn’t just a place of refuge; it’s a community of support and understanding that has provided him with the tools to navigate life’s challenges and envision a brighter future.

As Memorial Day approaches, Samaritan Daytop Village remains steadfast in its commitment to honoring the sacrifices made by those who have served their country. From participating in Veterans Day parades to hosting events for Veterans Treatment Courts, the organization continues to advocate for the well-being of veterans both within its walls and beyond.

Looking ahead, Samaritan Daytop Village is dedicated to its mission of serving those who have served their country. With upcoming initiatives ranging from therapeutic trips to West Point to community outreach events, the organization continues to be a beacon of hope for veterans in need of support. For those who have served their country with honor, it offers not just treatment but a path to healing, dignity, and hope.

Community Board 5 Meeting Heats Up with “City of Yes” Discussion



Tensions flared at the Community Board 5 meeting in Middle Village as residents and officials clashed over the hotly debated “City of Yes” housing opportunity zoning text amendments. The meeting was held in the Christ the King High School Cafeteria on May 8.

Emotions ran high as residents, city officials, and community leaders engaged in a passionate debate surrounding the proposed “City of Yes” zoning text amendments aimed at expanding housing opportunities. Against a backdrop of growing concerns over housing affordability and urban development, the meeting became a focal point for diverging opinions and competing interests within the community.

Courtesy CB5

The City of Yes initiative, presented by representatives of the N.Y. City Dept. of City Planning, aims to address housing needs and stimulate economic growth through strategic zoning amendments.

The presentation by Representatives of the N.Y. City Dept. of City Planning unveiled more details about the ambitious “City of Yes” initiative, which aims to tackle New York City’s pressing housing needs through a series of strategic zoning amendments and policy reforms. This initiative underscores the pivotal role of housing not only in shaping the fabric of urban life but also in driving economic growth and social equity within the city.

At the heart of the presentation was a compelling argument regarding the economic ramifications of housing scarcity. It was emphasized that when a significant portion of residents’ income is absorbed by housing costs, it leads to decreased consumer spending in other sectors, thus constraining overall economic activity. By expanding housing availability, the initiative seeks to alleviate this financial burden on residents while simultaneously injecting billions into the city’s economy and generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, predominantly in construction and residential maintenance sectors.

The discussion also delved into the intricate relationship between zoning regulations and housing supply dynamics. Zoning laws dictate not only the size and density of buildings but also their designated uses, influencing the very fabric of urban development. The proposed amendments aim to modernize and streamline these regulations, removing obstacles such as outdated parking mandates and overly restrictive zoning rules. By doing so, the initiative aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive housing landscape that caters to the evolving needs of New Yorkers.

Furthermore, the presentation elucidated the multifaceted approach of the “City of Yes” initiative, which encompasses a range of strategies to promote housing affordability and accessibility. From incentivizing the construction of affordable housing units to facilitating the conversion of non-residential buildings into residential spaces, the initiative seeks to create a more equitable housing environment across all neighborhoods. Additionally, innovative solutions such as transit-oriented development and the legalization of accessory dwelling units are proposed to maximize housing opportunities while promoting sustainability and community well-being.

The concerns raised by residents regarding the “City of Yes” initiative reflect a range of apprehensions and skepticism about the proposed changes to housing policy in New York City and their neighborhood and the communities.

Firstly, there’s a sentiment that the initiative appears to heavily favor developers rather than addressing the needs of existing residents. Many feel that the proposed amendments will lead to unchecked development, potentially resulting in the transformation of quiet, low-density neighborhoods into high-density commercial zones. Residents are worried about the impact on quality of life, including increased traffic congestion, loss of green space, and a shift in the character of their communities.

The issue of parking requirements is also contentious, with residents expressing concerns about the elimination of parking mandates for new developments. Many believe that this will exacerbate existing parking problems in both high-density and low-density neighborhoods, leading to increased competition for limited parking spaces and potentially higher rents without any tangible benefits for residents.

There was also skepticism about the efficacy of the initiative in addressing the city’s housing shortage. Some residents question the need for additional housing units, especially considering the recent decrease in population due to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue that the focus should be on providing affordable housing options rather than catering to market-rate developments that may further exacerbate gentrification and displacement.

Residents also express frustration with the lack of transparency and community input in the decision-making process. Many feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the proposed changes and believe that there hasn’t been adequate opportunity for meaningful engagement or discussion.

Courtesy CB5

Kathy Masi and other residents expressed deep concerns about the initiative’s potential impact on lower-density communities, citing worries about unchecked development and lack of transparency.

Residents and community figures like Kathy Masi from Glendale expressed deep concerns about the “City of Yes” initiative, highlighting its potentially devastating impact on lower-density communities.

“In all the years I’ve been on this community board, I don’t ever remember taking speaking time to address a city proposal, basically because I never really felt that would have a great impact on our community,” Masi said. “However, the city of Yes proposal is very different. It will have a devastating impact on lower density communities such as ours.”

She points out the lack of environmental impact studies and questions why Mayor Adams is aggressively pushing for this initiative. Masi, along with other residents, believes that the proposal primarily benefits big real estate developers without offering any tangible benefits to residents, particularly homeowners and tenants in communities like hers.

Catherine Muraski was next to speak, as she serves as the Vice President of the Liberty Park Homeowners Association, an organization with nearly a century of history.

“Civic associations are very important when it comes to communities, and we will be the first of many to vote no for the city of mess. Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams and most of the city council think they can choose this,” Muraski said. “With these overdevelopment philosophies, they intend to take away the American dream from us native New York New Yorkers who all own a home and even rent in the end.”

Long-time community board member Fred Hoefferle voiced concerns over the City of Yes initiative during the public forum. Hoefferle, a resident and community board member of nearly 30 years, highlighted the paradox of relaxed parking regulations amidst existing shortages, noting the familiar sight of double-parked cars during alternate side parking days. He questioned the logic behind further easing restrictions given the city’s population decline post-pandemic, challenging claims of a housing shortage.

“Since the pandemic, the city has lost probably well over a half a million people,” Hoefferle said. “It’s hard to believe that having lost that many people, there is now a housing shortage. Where was the housing shortage in 2019?”

Residents also express frustration with the lack of transparency and community input in the decision-making process. Many feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the proposed changes and believe that there hasn’t been adequate opportunity for meaningful engagement or discussion.

Middle Village resident Frank Artim expressed mixed sentiments. acknowledging the complexity of the issue, raised concerns about transit access and the potential impact on local businesses and community cohesion. Reflecting on the diverse fabric of neighborhoods, Artim questioned the initiative’s goal of homogenizing the city without regard for individual differences.

“The bottom line is much of what people are saying here is about keeping the fabric of a community, I don’t know where you grew up, or you know, anything like that,” Artim  said. “But a lot of the people here know what it is to have a mom and pop shop, and everything that goes along with it. Now, apparently, from what we’re hearing, you’re looking to make the whole city as one big happy family without any differential differentiation from one person to another.”

Community representatives Robert Holden and Joanne Ariola from CB5 made a rare in-person appearance at the meeting to voice their opposition to the “City of Yes” initiative.

“I one hundred percent agree with everyone who spoke out against the City of B.S,” Ariola said. “We do not need more density, we do not want that character of the community, we don’t want less regulation… This text amendment is enormous, why isn’t it broken down? Why are we voting on it in it’s entirety? It’s because this is just a way to just shuffle it in.”

“You know I’m against the City of Yes,” Holden said. “It’s doing everything we’ve fought against during there 90’s and early 2000s. They want to allow everything we fought against… It’s a tragedy that they are trying to destroy our neighborhood.”

Courtesy CB5

Robert Holden criticized the proposal for appearing to heavily favor developers without adequately addressing the needs of existing residents, particularly homeowners and tenants in communities.

In summary, the Community Board 5 meeting showcased a passionate debate over the “City of Yes” housing opportunity zoning text amendments. While city officials presented the ambitious initiative as a solution to New York City’s housing needs and economic growth, residents voiced concerns about unchecked development, loss of community character, and a perceived lack of transparency in decision-making.

“As residents of Queens, it is our jobs to contact the city council representatives, many communities such as Glendale are represented by more than one, let them know we want them to vote against the City of Yes,” Masi said. “The power is with the city council, the mayor needs to hear from the council that this does not work.”

American Legion Post #1424 Hosts Spectacular Memorial Day Kickoff

Mohamed Farghaly

American Legion Post #1424 Prepares for Vibrant Memorial Day Parade, Honoring Fallen Heroes and Embracing Community Spirit.



The annual Memorial Day kickoff party, hosted by the American Legion Continental Post #1424 on May 10 was a vibrant celebration featuring live music, delectable food, and raffles. At the event, parade sponsors were lauded, and esteemed community members were recognized by both their peers and local veterans. The occasion also marked the revelatory and celebratory announcement of the two grand marshals who will lead the upcoming parade later this month.

The Legion post, currently led by Commander Michael Arcati was established in 1946, the post’s annual parade stands as a testament to its enduring legacy, despite facing closure just five years ago due to dwindling participation. Thanks to the efforts of Vice Commander Pat Conley and his brother Joe Conley, along with previous leadership, the post was revived and modernized, embracing social media and community engagement to attract new members. Commander Arcati’s proactive approach, marked by personal outreach and event hosting, has revitalized the post’s presence.

“The primary purpose of the parade is to honor the fallen, those service members who died in service of the country,” Arcati said. “We also honor local heroes, that’s why today we’re going to honor our local civilian Grand Marshal, as well as our veteran Grand Marshal.”

Beyond fostering camaraderie among veterans, the Legion is dedicated to serving the community, exemplifying patriotism and honoring local heroes through initiatives like the annual parade, which pays tribute to fallen service members and celebrates local veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.

Retired US Army Major Michael C. Dunne, a devoted member of the American Legion post, sheds light on the meticulous planning behind the annual parade, a tradition ingrained in the community’s fabric.

With over a decade of involvement, Dunne emphasizes the extensive preparation involved, beginning months in advance and involving coordination with numerous participating groups. This year, as part of his responsibilities, he spearheads the organization of staging areas to accommodate the parade’s growing scale, illustrating the parade’s evolution over the years. Starting in front of the post on Metropolitan Avenue, the parade winds through the streets, culminating at the Remsen Family Cemetery, where Revolutionary War soldiers rest, symbolizing the parade’s profound historical significance.

“It’s extremely important because we’re here to celebrate and recognize Memorial Day, which is the day to honor the service members who gave their lives for this country,” Dunne said. “We’re doing this parade for them. Those of us who are veterans, some people mistakenly think that this is the parade for us. It’s not, it’s for everybody who was sent overseas, or sent on a mission and didn’t come back home.”

Mohamed Farghaly

Vietnam Veteran William Hartnett Honored as Grand Marshal for Memorial Day Parade, Emblematic of Sacrifice and Service.

William Hartnett, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and Veterans Grand Marshal of the parade, embodies the spirit of service and honor. Reflecting on his responsibilities during the parade, which include laying a wreath at the cemetery, Hartnett expresses deep gratitude for the opportunity to represent his fellow veterans. Born in Ireland in 1947, Hartnett immigrated to the United States at 14, later joining the Army and serving in Vietnam. After his military service, he pursued a career as an electrician, exemplifying the values of discipline and dedication instilled in him during his time in the Army. Hartnett’s commitment to his community and the American Legion is unwavering, recognizing the Legion’s vital role in providing support and camaraderie to veterans.

“My comrades here have elected me to be the Grand Marshal, I think it’s fantastic and I’m really honored by it,” Hartnett said.

As he looks forward to the parade, Hartnett emphasizes the importance of attracting younger generations to ensure the organization’s longevity, highlighting the Legion’s invaluable assistance to veterans in need and commending the dedication of its leaders in revitalizing the post.

“This Legion has  great people here, the American Legion is a great organization for anybody,” Hartnett said. “Our elected officials always show up for our parades, which I think it’s great. The Forest Hills community is a great community that shows up year after year in support.”

The second parade Grand Marshal honoree, Michael Reddy, a dedicated civilian, exemplifies a profound commitment to his community. His unwavering devotion has earned him the privilege of leading the parade alongside local veterans.

Mohamed Farghaly

Civilian Michael Reddy, a Beacon of Community Dedication, Named Grand Marshal Alongside Veterans for Memorial Day Parade.

 Reddy’s journey into this role began over a decade ago, as he witnessed the dwindling participation in the parade and the strain on its leadership. Motivated by a deep respect for the sacrifices of servicemen and women, Reddy stepped in to support the organization from the sidelines. Over the years, his involvement expanded, from assisting with parade logistics to caring for the Cemetery Park.

“I became involved because I am forever mindful of the sacrifices that all the men and women made to our country,” Reddy said. “And more particularly, the Memorial Day Parade is so important. It’s a solemn remembrance of those who died in the pursuit of my freedom, and my liberty.”

For Reddy, this commitment is a solemn duty, a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and liberty. Reflecting on his own roots as a New York City native and the son of a Vietnam veteran, Reddy underscores the importance of honoring the memory of fallen heroes. He emphasizes that the existence and growth of such organizations and parades are essential reminders that freedom is not free, and that behind every celebration lies the profound sacrifice of those who served. Through his actions and words, Reddy embodies the spirit of remembrance and gratitude that defines Memorial Day.

“Many people’s love and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend at the barbecue. They have their big day, they have that extra day off. And it’s very important for the community, for the country at large to remember that freedom is not free, and liberty comes with a price,” Reddy said. “You have that freedom and that ability to celebrate at the beach and a barbecue out because there are men and women in this post and outside of it who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

The upcoming Memorial Day parade on May 26, led by the American Legion Continental Post #1424, promises to be a vibrant celebration, honoring fallen service members and local heroes alike. This year’s grand marshals, chosen with care, reflect the community’s deep commitment to remembrance and gratitude.

Sammy’s Law Passes, Granting Authority to Set Speed Limits

Courtesy Jessica González-Rojas’s Office

State Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas celebrate the passage of Sammy’s Law, granting New York City authority over speed limits, in a landmark move to enhance street safety and curb traffic-related fatalities.



State Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas joined forces on April 30 to celebrate the passage of Sammy’s Law, a groundbreaking legislation that grants New York City the authority to set its own speed limits.

The measure, which was included in the recently approved FY25 state budget, marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to enhance street safety and reduce traffic-related fatalities in the city.

Named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who tragically lost his life in a traffic accident in Brooklyn in 2013, Sammy’s Law empowers the city to lower speed limits from 25 mph to 20 mph and from 15 mph to 10 mph in designated traffic-calming zones, also known as “slow zones.” Notably, roads outside Manhattan with at least three lanes in a single direction will maintain a speed limit of 25 mph.

“Too many lives have been lost to traffic violence, including those of young children, because our laws do not protect them,” Senator Liu said. “Sammy Cohen Eckstein, Allison Hope Liao, Quintas Chen, Bayron Palomino Arroyo, and too many others were all young lives full of promise who were unfairly taken too soon. In a big city like New York, drivers need to slow down. The passage of Sammy’s Law this month is a testament to their legacies, and we now call on the City of New York to act with the same urgency and implement these changes so no more families have to endure the heartbreak of losing a loved one to preventable traffic violence.”

The passage of Sammy’s Law comes at a critical juncture, as recent reports indicate a concerning rise in traffic-related fatalities, particularly in Queens, where 37 percent of this year’s traffic fatalities have occurred. The legislation is a response to this alarming trend, aiming to mitigate the risks associated with speeding and improve overall street safety.

 “Sammy’s Law is a game changer for street safety because it will finally allow New York City to set its own speed limits,” State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, lead sponsor of Sammy’s Law said. “In 2020, I introduced this common-sense traffic safety legislation in memory of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a young man who was fatally struck by a speeding driver just months before his thirteenth birthday. Since Sammy’s tragic death, his mother Amy Cohen has been a relentless champion for street safety through the organization she co-founded, Families for Safe Streets, and has inspired dozens of other family members who’ve lost loved ones to traffic violence to advocate for new traffic policies to save lives. New Yorkers owe them a deep debt of gratitude for helping change the paradigm of traffic safety in Albany.”

Assembly Member González-Rojas, a staunch advocate for safe streets and a key co-sponsor of Sammy’s Law, expressed her enthusiasm for the bill’s passage. She emphasized the importance of addressing the growing pedestrian and cyclist deaths in Western Queens, citing the need for immediate action to prevent further tragedies.

“I am elated at the passage of this bill. It has been a long time coming and hard fought on every level,” González-Rojas said. “There is still more work to be done, but what we have accomplished thus far is incredible progress. Families, like that of 7-year-old Dolma Naadhun who was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing the street with her mother, have experienced unimaginable pain of losing loved ones due to traffic violence. We’ve marched alongside each other in the streets, attended hearings and rallies to get this bill passed. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the families that showed up and advocated for this bill. I am grateful that Sammy’s Law will improve the safety of our streets.”

The significance of Sammy’s Law extends beyond its potential to save lives; it also symbolizes a victory for grassroots activism and community advocacy. Families for Safe Streets, a group composed of individuals who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, played a pivotal role in championing the legislation, along with other organizations and elected officials.

Amy Tam Liao, the mother of Allison Hope Liao and founder of Families for Safe Streets, underscored the lifesaving potential of reduced speed limits, emphasizing the urgent need for the law’s swift implementation.

“Reduced speed limits save lives – and Sammy’s Law will protect countless New Yorkers from traffic violence,” Tam Liao said. “Finally, New York City will be able to set its own speed limits. When I lost my daughter, Allison, the loss tore a hole in my family, my neighborhood, and my community. Every day, I remember her laughter and her spirit, taken from us far too soon. We must protect our youngest and most vulnerable from traffic violence, and Sammy’s Law must be implemented immediately and appropriately.”

As New York prepares to implement Sammy’s Law, stakeholders across the city are hopeful that this landmark legislation will pave the way for safer streets and fewer traffic-related tragedies. With strong support from elected officials, advocacy groups, and community members, the fight against traffic violence continues to gain momentum, driven by a shared commitment to protecting lives and ensuring a safer future for all New Yorkers.

“It’s long past time we take back our streets from speeding drivers and deliver justice to the grieving families of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, Allison Hope Liao, Quintas Chen, Bayron Palomino Arroyo, and too many others,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said. “That’s exactly what the long overdue passage of Sammy’s Law, allowing New York City to finally set its own speed limits, will help us do. I couldn’t be more grateful for the tireless advocacy of groups like Families for Safe Streets, who have turned their pain into progress, and for the work of all our elected partners to get this badly needed bill passed into law.”

Driving Economic Progress and Empowering Entrepreneurs in Queens

Courtesy QEDC

The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) is a driving force behind economic progress and community empowerment in Queens.



Within the ever evolving mosaic that is Queens, the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) emerges as a champion of economic progress and community development. At the center of QEDC lies a bold mission: to create and retain jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and promote community prosperity, with a special focus on supporting individuals of low-to-moderate income, women, minorities, and immigrants. Since its inception in 1977, QEDC has been dedicated to empowering individuals and driving economic growth across Queens.

At the core of QEDC’s mission is a dedication to helping individuals from diverse backgrounds navigate the intricacies of entrepreneurship. Through an array of programs and initiatives, the organization provides invaluable support to aspiring business owners, equipping them with the tools and resources needed to thrive in the competitive landscape of small business.

Seth Bornstein, Executive Director of QEDC for the past 15 years has seen the borough’s landscape change in front of his very eyes and has shifted the organization to continually adapt to neighborhood and resident’s needs.

“Our mission is to help people start with a small business. We do that through a variety of programs that focus on people of middle income, lower income women, minorities, Bornstein said. “There’s a huge amount of people coming here who want to become entrepreneurs, we strive to help them.”

Indeed, QEDC’s impact spans a wide spectrum of activities, from business counseling sessions tailored to the needs of individual entrepreneurs to educational classes that cover essential topics ranging from marketing strategies to financial planning. These services, made possible through public grants and foundation support, are offered free of charge, democratizing access to valuable resources and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.

One of QEDC’s flagship initiatives is its Kitchen Incubator, a hub for culinary innovation where aspiring food entrepreneurs can bring their culinary visions to life. With state-of-the-art facilities and mentorship opportunities, the Kitchen Incubator serves as a launching pad for culinary ventures, contributing to the vibrant food scene that defines Queens.

The organization also offers the Entrepreneurship Assistance Center (EAC), which is a pioneering initiative catering to entrepreneurs in the New York City area since 1992. Offering comprehensive training and personalized coaching, the EAC equips both budding and established business owners with the skills and resources necessary to thrive in today’s competitive market. Under the umbrella of QEDC, the EAC has played a pivotal role in assisting over 700 individuals in launching over 100 businesses and creating 350 jobs, while securing substantial financing and achieving impressive sales figures.

Another feature is the Women’s Business Center (WBC), which is a cornerstone of support for women entrepreneurs, empowering them to thrive in the economy by fostering the growth and success of their businesses. Since its establishment in 2001, the WBC has been a driving force behind the advancement of women business owners, offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to their unique needs. From one-on-one counseling and training courses to workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities, the WBC provides a nurturing environment where women can develop their entrepreneurial skills and connect with like-minded peers.

Beyond nurturing individual businesses, QEDC is deeply committed to enhancing the fabric of Queens’ neighborhoods. Through collaborative efforts with local stakeholders and government agencies, the organization spearheads neighborhood development projects aimed at revitalizing commercial corridors, beautifying public spaces, and fostering a sense of community pride.

Recent achievements highlight QEDC’s multifaceted approach to community development. From organizing small business training programs to managing public spaces like Corona Plaza, the organization has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to making Queens a more vibrant and inclusive place for all residents. The organization’s recent efforts include graffiti cleanup as part of a neighborhood development program. They work efficiently with funded council members to identify and remove graffiti, enhancing neighborhood aesthetics and community satisfaction.

“Queens County is made for big businesses, small businesses including those with fewer than five employees, who may lack the resources needed to expand,” Bornstein said. “We provide assistance to help them navigate and grow their businesses, thus supporting the small business community.”

Looking ahead, QEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to driving positive change, exemplified by upcoming events like the Queens Taste fundraiser on May 21. Collaborating with the Queens Tourism Council, QEDC will host Queens Taste 2024 at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from 6 pm to 9 pm. This celebration and networking event will feature over 50 restaurants and beverage purveyors offering samples to more than 500 attendees, creating a vibrant atmosphere for mingling and enjoying a diverse array of culinary delights while showcasing the borough’s rich cultural tapestry.

Courtesy QEDC

With a rich history since 1977, QEDC offers an array of programs aimed at equipping aspiring entrepreneurs with resources and support to thrive in Queens.

Kidney Coalition of NYC Hosts Pop-Up Craft Fair

Courtesy The Kidney Coalition of NYC

The Kidney Coalition of NYC recently hosted a vibrant pop-up craft fair at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Glendale.



The Kidney Coalition of NYC (KCNYC) hosted a vibrant pop-up craft fair on April 28, drawing in crowds of supporters, vendors, and music enthusiasts to the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Glendale. The event, which showcased the organization’s dedication to its cause, featured over 20 vendors, raffles, music, and a bustling concession stand.

Volunteers, the lifeblood of KCNYC, worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success. From setup to cleanup, their dedication was instrumental in creating a welcoming atmosphere for all attendees. Gratitude poured in from the organization to everyone who contributed, from volunteers to vendors and the community at large.

Courtesy The Kidney Coalition of NYC

The event featured over 20 vendors, live music, raffles, and a bustling concession stand, drawing in crowds of supporters and community members.

The event proved not only a celebration of creativity and community spirit but also a fundraising success. Initial estimates indicated a raise of over 750 dollars.

The funds raised will be directed toward the organization’s impactful campaigns. A significant portion will support the children’s campaign, Florie’s Flowers, while the remainder will be allocated to providing tote bags for dialysis patients. This dual focus underscores KCNYC’s commitment to addressing the diverse needs of individuals impacted by kidney disease.

Courtesy The Kidney Coalition of NYC

Volunteers played a crucial role in ensuring the event’s success, from setup to cleanup, while attendees enjoyed a festive atmosphere filled with creativity and camaraderie.

Looking ahead, KCNYC has already set its sights on its next vendor event scheduled for October 26. As the organization continues its mission to provide a community of learning, support, and healing for individuals affected by kidney disease, events like these serve as crucial touchpoints for raising awareness and fostering connections within the community and beyond.

Founded as a non-profit organization by individuals with kidney disease for individuals with kidney disease, KCNYC stands as a beacon of hope and support for those navigating the complexities of chronic kidney disease. Through its myriad programs, activities, and events, KCNYC remains dedicated to its vision of advocacy, education, and ultimately, finding a cure for Chronic Kidney Disease.

For more information about KCNYC and upcoming events, visit their website at kidneycoalition.org.

Courtesy The Kidney Coalition of NYC

The fair raised over $750, with funds directed towards supporting the organization’s children’s campaign, Florie’s Flowers, and providing tote bags for dialysis patients.

Couple’s Journey from Renovation to Ruin Spurs Community Support


Courtesy the Pettrey’s
The Pettrey family’s long-awaited move to their newly renovated home in Forest Hills turned into a nightmare when a devastating fire consumed their future just days before they were set to move in.



In the neighborhood of Forest Hills, a young family’s dreams were shattered when their newly renovated home went up in flames just days before they were set to move in.

Emily and Luke Pettrey, who had eagerly awaited the arrival of their first child while working to create a cozy nest for their growing family, now find themselves grappling with the aftermath of a devastating fire that consumed what was supposed to be their future.

Luke Pettrey, who has resided in Forest Hills since 2001, shares that he and his wife met during the pandemic, with her hailing from Chicago. The couple has been married for nearly three years, previously renting in the Rego Park area before tragedy struck.

The Pettreys’ journey began almost a year ago when they closed on their new coop in Forest Hills, excitedly preparing for the arrival of their first child. However, their plans took an unexpected turn when they discovered they were expecting a baby right around the time of closing.  They embarked on a journey to transform their house into a home, envisioning a bright future filled with love and laughter. From selecting furniture and appliances to painting the nursery, every detail was carefully chosen with their growing family in mind.

Despite the initial excitement, the ensuing months were marked by a chaotic whirlwind of renovations, contractor issues, and insurance complications as they worked tirelessly to ready their home for their growing family. With their baby due on Christmas Day, they found themselves staying with friends while awaiting the completion of the renovations. Finally, just as they were on the cusp of moving in, tragedy struck.

Their dreams were shattered on the morning of April 26, when Luke returned home from work to find a devastating text from their real estate agent containing images of their new apartment engulfed in flames, just days before they were scheduled to move in.

“I get home from work, my wife and Son were already asleep, so I get in bed, and I get a text from our real estate agent who helped us close the place,” Luke said. “And it was pictures from the citizen app that said fire reported and there’s just like videos and pictures of essentially my apartment consumed in flames.”

Courtesy the Pettrey’s

The family goes through uncertainties and challenges as they navigate the aftermath and seek support from their community through a GoFundMe campaign.

The aftermath of the fire left the Pettreys grappling with numerous uncertainties, including the cause of the blaze and the extent of their insurance coverage. While initial assessments suggest that the fire may have been related to the ongoing renovations, the exact details remain unclear pending the completion of the fire marshal’s report, a process that could take up to four to six weeks.

Despite ruling out intentional arson, the Pettreys still face a daunting array of challenges as they navigate the complex aftermath of the disaster. Issues with their home insurance policy, compounded by lapses in coverage, have added further complications to an already overwhelming situation. With no clear indication of liability, the Pettreys find themselves in a state of limbo, uncertain of how to proceed amidst mounting property losses and living expenses.

As they await clarity on their insurance claims, the Pettreys are forced to confront the harsh realities of their situation, grappling with the prospect of rebuilding their lives from the ground up while juggling the financial strain of mortgage payments and the recent arrival of their newborn child.

“It’s a surreal experience, it kind of felt like a movie, just watching it go up in flames three days before,” Luke said. “I think probably the biggest challenge is just figuring out how to not dwell on it, and just move forward and take whatever the next step is, and not try to figure it all out right now. But do the next thing we can do.”

Despite the heartbreaking setback, the Pettreys remain resilient, finding solace in their faith and the support of their community as they face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives from scratch.

Luke, who hopes to serve as a minister within the next year, sees a silver lining amidst the tragedy, recognizing how their faith has sustained them through the darkest of times.

“It’s been a blessing to my wife and I because we already see how God is using this experience in both of our lives,” Luke said. “And even in the challenges, we are doing good and we’re grateful.”

The Pettreys’ story has touched the hearts of many, inspiring an outpouring of generosity and compassion from friends, neighbors, and even strangers from Forest Hills to all the way in Chicago. A GoFundMe campaign, launched by Emily’s cousin, has garnered overwhelming support, with donations pouring in to help the Pettreys rebuild their lives and find shelter during this difficult period.

With the daunting prospect of rebuilding their home from scratch looming ahead, the funds raised will serve as a lifeline, helping to alleviate the immediate financial strain of living expenses and survival costs in the months ahead. However, Luke acknowledges that the true magnitude of their expenses, including extensive renovations and property losses, far exceeds what can be covered by the GoFundMe donations alone. Nevertheless, every contribution, no matter how small, brings them one step closer to reclaiming their lives and rebuilding together.

For those wishing to contribute or offer assistance in other ways, please visit their GoFundMe page at tinyurl.com/pettreyshelp.

Maspeth Community Honors Two Remarkable Women for Decades of Service

Mohamed Farghaly

Gloria Macaig proudly holds her Community Service Award, recognizing her unwavering dedication to serving the Maspeth community through her involvement with AARP and the Frank Kowalinski Post.



Two remarkable women were honored at last week’s award meeting hosted by the Frank Kowalinski Post 4. One recipient, celebrated for reaching the rare milestone of 100 years of age, stood as a beacon of vitality and endurance. The other, recognized for her dedicated service to the community, exemplified the profound impact of compassion and generosity.

The Polish Legion of American Veterans post is dedicated to Frank Kowalinski, who holds the distinction of being the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish descent to lose his life in combat during World War I.

In collaboration with AARP, the Post held a ceremony where the two women were honored. AARP, previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons, is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for older Americans on various federal health and fiscal matters, including Medicare and Social Security.

Lucy Winsko, speaking as Vice President of the Post, highlighted the significance of their contributions and the importance of community involvement. She emphasized the organization’s commitment to supporting veterans, nursing home residents, and underprivileged children through various initiatives.

Gloria Macaig was  honored by the AARP and Frank Kowalinski Post for her outstanding contributions to the Maspeth area. For the past five years, Macaig has been an active member of AARP, the senior citizen organization, where she dedicates her time to community service through the program.

Beyond her involvement with AARP, Macaig has been a stalwart member of the Frank Kowalinski Post for the past few years, passionately supporting veterans and managing events to honor their service. As the President of the Ladies Auxiliary, Macaig plays a pivotal role in organizing parties and providing assistance to veterans in need.

She is also an active member of the Maspeth Lions Club, where she contributes to fundraising efforts for community projects, including purchasing guide dogs for the blind. Reflecting on her upbringing, Macaig credits her parents for instilling in her the values of community service, a tradition she continues with her own family.

When asked about the importance of her work, Macaig emphasized the need to help others and the joy she finds in giving back to her community. With upcoming events like the Grand Avenue parade, Macaig and her fellow volunteers are gearing up to provide essential support to participants, showcasing their unwavering commitment to service.

“My parents raised me to help not only myself but also to assist the community, neighbors, friends, and family,” Macaig said. “I think it’s important to encourage others, including my own son, to engage in community involvement. We receive a lot of support here, and I’m grateful for the assistance.”

Helen Sokol, a beloved member of the community, was also honored for her remarkable achievement of reaching the centennial milestone at 102 years old.

Recalling the recent award ceremony, Sokol, expressed her surprise at being recognized. Her commitment to the organization spans many years, dating back to its origins at the Presbyterian Church on Seabury Street. Despite various relocations due to rent issues and building fires, Sokol,’s loyalty to the organization has remained.

Describing the organization’s meetings as a platform for open discussion and community engagement, Sokol, highlighted the importance of providing women with a space to voice their concerns and ideas. With a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, members gather regularly to address local issues and support one another.

Sokol, emphasized the sense of community fostered by the bi-weekly meetings and organization’s activities, including weekly donations and outreach efforts to local churches in need. With her positive outlook and unwavering commitment to community involvement, Sokol, embodies the spirit of service and resilience that defines the organization’s mission.

“I think the women who attend here genuinely enjoy it because they feel that they can speak their minds and see that it can lead to positive changes in the community,” she said. I think it’s a nice, friendly organization.”

At its core, the Post stands as a symbol of unity and goodwill, bringing women together in service and solidarity. With the unwavering support of the AARP, they continue to uphold their mission of making a positive difference in the lives of others, embodying the values of compassion and civic responsibility.

Mohamed Farghaly

Helen Sokol, accepts her Centennial Milestone Award, commemorating her remarkable achievement of reaching 102 years of age and her enduring commitment to community engagement in Maspeth.

Community Unites for Earth Day Cleanup Event on Future QueensWay Park

By MOHAMED FARGHALY mfarghaly@queensledger.com

A diverse group of volunteers gathered on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park, organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

In a collective effort to revitalize a neglected part of Queens, a diverse group of volunteers joined forces on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park.

Organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman, the Community Impact Day aimed to foster community engagement while laying the groundwork for the transformation of a disused railway into a vibrant public space.

The event, which drew over 75 participants, saw residents don gloves and utilize provided cleanup materials to rid the designated area of debris, marking a significant step toward realizing the ambitious vision for the QueensWay. Volunteers traversed a portion of the planned 4.5-mile park, spanning from Rego Park to Ozone Park, focusing their efforts on areas earmarked for phase one and phase two development.

With over 75 participants, residents donned gloves and utilized cleanup materials to rid the area of debris, marking progress towards transforming the neglected railway into a vibrant public space. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Gary Weinstey, volunteer and sustainability manager at JFK underscores the significance of community engagement in creating a green space for the benefit of all stakeholders in Queens. 

“Today we are giving back out to the community and creating a green space and for the benefit of the Queens residents and to give back and provide a healthy a green space for the community,” Weinstey said. “It’s important to have a healthy green space that is as free of pollution and waste and to give an opportunity to the future generations to be able to have a space for greenery, and for some nature and for some environmental conservation.” 

Despite the daunting task of tackling environmental neglect, volunteers remained undeterred, recognizing the importance of their contribution to the revitalization efforts. While acknowledging that some debris may require heavy machinery for removal, participants expressed satisfaction with the impact they were able to achieve.

“I think it made a big difference,” remarked one volunteer. “Sure, there’s still work to be done, but events like these are crucial for fostering a sense of stewardship and pride in our community.”

Reuben Ramale, a board member of Friends of the QueensWay and volunteer highlighted the importance of community involvement in celebrating Earth Day and engaging residents in learning about the QueensWay project. As a resident of Woodhaven, with Forest Park as his local park, he emphasized the significance of initiatives like the cleanup event in transforming neglected spaces into vibrant community assets. 

“This is just our opportunity to one, celebrate Earth Day, but then also engage the community members to come out and get to learn a little bit more about the Queensway,” Ramale said. “For the last two and a half hours we’ve been cleaning this area, and there’s always more than enough trash to pick up around here.”

The cleanup event not only served as an opportunity to physically improve the future QueensWay but also as a platform for community members to connect and reaffirm their commitment to the project. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant has provided a significant boost to the ambitious QueensWay project, fueling efforts to transform a neglected 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railway into a vibrant linear park and cultural greenway in Central Queens. Led by the Friends of the QueensWay (FQW) in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, the project has garnered widespread support since its inception in 2011, with the aim of revitalizing the area and enhancing the quality of life for residents of Queens and beyond. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant further fuels efforts to transform the abandoned railway into a seven-mile greenway, offering new connections between neighborhoods and promoting health and connectivity. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

The grant, issued as part of the “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program – Neighborhood Access and Equity Program” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, represents a pivotal moment in the initiative’s progress, signaling a commitment to fostering community cohesion and investing in transformative infrastructure projects.

With a specific focus on the Forest Park Pass project, the grant will support the extension of the QueensWay into Forest Park, encompassing approximately 1.3 miles of greenway, new greenway bridges, recreational amenities, and connections to existing facilities. Once completed, the QueensWay will span seven miles of greenway, providing new connections between neighborhoods and offering New Yorkers a safe and accessible way to enjoy the outdoors. This latest infusion of federal funding propels the QueensWay project into its next phase of development, poised to realize a vision of a dynamic urban green space that promotes health, connectivity, and community engagement.

Volunteers from diverse backgrounds join forces to clean up debris along the future site of the QueensWay park, marking Earth Day with community action. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Ryan Matt, Community Outreach Coordinator for Trust for Public Lands, reflects on the significance of community engagement in events like the Earth Day cleanup for the QueensWay. 

“We had about 75 plus people come out and help us clean up the cleans the Queensway this morning,” Matt said. “It’s been a great turnout and we had a really nice morning, what was kind of to draw attention to this abandoned rail, which actually was just funded by the federal government to be built into a park. The full park would span 4.5 miles from Rego Park all the way down to Ozone.” 

Matt emphasizes the importance of stewardship and connection to the land, highlighting that the QueensWay is not just a tourist attraction but a space intended for the local community. 

Reflecting on the success of the cleanup event, organizers encouraged interested individuals to stay informed and get involved in future initiatives by joining the QueensWay email list, following social media channels, and reaching out directly to learn more about opportunities for participation.

For more information and to join the community effort, visit queensway.org and follow @QueensWayNYC on social media.

Northwell Health Takes Over Glendale Hot Spot

By MOHAMED FARGHALY mfarghaly@queensledger.com

Northwell Health has transformed Glendale’s former Shiro of Japan space into a healthcare hub, unveiling the Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale within Atlas Park. Courtesy Northwell Health.

In a stride towards accessible and comprehensive healthcare, Northwell Health has repurposed the former Shiro of Japan space at Atlas Park into a healthcare hub, officially unveiling the Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale. 

Now located within Atlas Park at 80-40 Cooper Ave Suite 4204, Glendale, the multi-specialty practice marks a pivotal addition to the community’s healthcare landscape, offering a diverse array of medical services under one roof.

The grand opening on April 19 heralded a new era of healthcare convenience for Glendale residents as well as local neighbors, as the facility, situated within the Shops at Atlas Park, commenced its operations. The $5.1 million investment is a testament to Northwell’s commitment to serving local communities.

The grand opening on April 19 marked a significant milestone for Glendale residents, with the $5.1 million investment showcasing Northwell’s commitment to community health.
Credit: Queens Ledger Staff.

Mark Talamini, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Northwell Health Physician Partners, articulated the institution’s dedication to expanding healthcare accessibility in the area. 

“Northwell Health Physician Partners has made the investment in Queens a priority and that’s been made clear by our expanding range of health care services and medical specialists in the region,”Talamini said. “We want to be where people live and work to make access to care and the delivery of quality medical services as seamless as possible.”

This state-of-the-art facility encompasses a spectrum of medical disciplines, housing offices for primary care, behavioral health, cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonary medicine, urology, and various surgical specialties. With a team comprising 10 physicians and 27 support staff, the center ensures comprehensive healthcare delivery, boasting 16 exam rooms, an onsite clinical laboratory, and specialized equipment for diagnostic procedures such as ultrasounds and echocardiogram/stress tests.

Northwell Health offers a diverse range of medical services under one roof and a team of 10 physicians and 27 support staff. Credit: Queens Ledger Staff.

John D’Angelo, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive Director of Northwell’s Central Region, underscored the institution’s commitment to serving Queens and beyond.

“In order to empower ever healthier communities, it’s important that Northwell provides a range of complex care beyond the walls of our hospitals,” said D’Angelo. “We have a long history of service to Queens and we’re doing even more in Glendale by bringing ENTs, cardiologists and surgeons to the local community.”

The grand opening ceremony saw notable figures from the local community, including Tom Grech, President & CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Ebony Young, Deputy Borough President, who lauded Northwell’s investment in Glendale as a testament to its leadership in healthcare.

“A 10-million dollar investment in Glendale is a great thing and as one of the largest employers in the state, with 86,000 employees, it is evident Northwell is a leader,” Gech said. 

For those seeking appointments or more information, Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale can be reached at 718-887-3090 or visited online at tinyurl.com/GlendaleHealth. 

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