Watch Guard 24/7 hosts Holiday Toy Drive to benefit CCBQ

Help brighten the life of a child this holiday season by donating a toy to Watch Guard 24/7’s Holiday Toy Drive.

Drop off your toy donation at WatchGuard 24/7’s LIC (34-07 37th Avenue LIC, NY 11101) or Glendale, Queens (71-16 Myrtle Avenue Glendale, NY 11385) locations,

All toys will be donated to families of Catholic Charities and Phipps Neighborhoods.

Watch Guard 24/7 is a leader in providing security, concierge, and fire safety director services to hundreds of locations throughout NY & NJ, and their CEO, John Rafferty, is known for his dedication to philanthropic.

“Success in life does not come from what we have, but from what we give. If we can all give a little more to others, we will not only be be better people ourselves, but the world will be a better place,” said John Rafferty, CEO of WatchGuard 24/7.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to helping NYC neighbors in need with mercy and compassion since 1899. Their programs and services not only provide essential resources and support, but also help to build stronger, more connected communities.

“Kudos to Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens for uplifting New Yorkers in need. CCBQ feeds seniors through meal delivery, help the homeless access food and housing, provide financial assistance when people lose their jobs, enrich young lives through quality programs, help people with disabilities thrive through specialized services and so much more.,” said Michele Rafferty, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Watch Guard 24/7.

See Watch Guard 24/7’s Instagram account for additional information.

Russo’s Group opens luxury apartments in Douglaston

On Tuesday, October 11th, the Russo’s Group cut the ribbon at its new Luxury Apartment Building at 241-15 Northern Blvd in Douglaston, NY.

Mr. Russo, CEO and Owner of the renowned Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach, is known for his exquisite taste for luxury and attention to detail. Although the development began many years ago in mid-2001, the search for a quality architect and builder that could meet the highest of expectations for this project was a careful process. After many years of planning, Russo ultimately chose the

Respected architect, Frank J. Quatela of Quatela Architects, and the highly-experienced builder Zucaro Constructing LLC, to bring this extraordinary community to fruition. Together, with an experienced team on board, the design of the building continued to evolve and take presence over the course of two decades, leading to the complete beautifully designed structure that Russo’s Luxury Apartments are today.

The building is a six-floor, 54-unit residence and a four-unit retail commercial space that has been meticulously planned with gracious layouts, custom finishes and up to 9-foot ceilings with dynamic views. This amazing 91,200 sq ft residential building – with studio, one- and two-bedroom floorplans – has indoor and outdoor amenities that enhance the lifestyle and comfort of its residents. Each unit is furnished with luxury features such as vinyl wood plank flooring, polished quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, modern cabinetry, subway tile backsplash, and under-cabinet illumination. With spacious closets, energy-efficient windows, individually controlled central air conditioning and gas heating, the apartments bring style, comfort, and well-being to the Douglaston area.

The amenities include a tenant lounge that has a fireplace, double height ceiling, wine lockers, live/work seating areas, and Wi-Fi. The roof deck features lounge seating, fire pits and barbeques along with stunning city views. Tenants will enjoy a state-of-the-art fitness center, dog run, controlled access garage parking, electric car charging stations, full elevator service, and onsite building superintendent. No stone was left unturned when planning this elegant community.

“We are thrilled to launch this project and contribute to the development of the Douglaston area,” said Mr. Russo, CEO of Russo’s Group. He goes on to say, “I knew this team would deliver the vision we started many years ago. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We are confident that our luxury apartments will provide a comfortable and enjoyable living experience for our tenants. Our entire team is extremely proud to bring this project to market for this community.”

To learn more about the community, visit their website.

Top High Schools in Queens, NYC in 2023

You send your child to one of our top high schools because you believe education is an investment. That has not changed for us. An investment in education pays off for their future. They have more choices, they are motivated in ways that other schools don’t even think, and they have an easier path to finding a passion.

At these schools, more resources are spent on giving individual attention to the student, hence there is a tuition. These schools give intense effort to create an atmosphere where students will thrive at ‘the next level’.










Brooklyn and Queens Flooded in the Midst of the Workday

By Oona Milliken, Matthew Fischetti and Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]

From Rockaway Beach to Gowanus to Elmhurst, residents of Queens and Brooklyn faced the brunt of last week’s flooding as roadways, homes, subway stations and airports filled with water Friday in what has now been recorded as the worst storm to hit the city since Hurricane Ida.

Trash as a result of the flooding in South Williamsburg. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Communities worked together all afternoon to clear drains and save neighbors from rising floodwaters but as the outer boroughs return to dry warm weather this week, questions remain about Mayor Eric Adam’s ability to communicate and prepare New York City residents for the historic severe storm.

Water rose to more than three feet high on the corner of Wallabout Street and Harrison Avenue in South Williamsburg on Friday Sept. 29 as New Yorkers across the city dealt with a bout of extreme flooding that prompted a city-wide state of emergency. Anthony Calderon, a Queens-based resident who works at Top Quality Management, a management company on Wallabout St, said he was cleaning up the trash from his office that the water had swept away and spread out across the area. Calderon said when the intersection flooded, he was reminded of storms such as Hurricane Ida, when New York City was shut down under a Flash Flood Emergency for the first time in recorded history and 13 people perished due to the rains. 

“Hectic. A lot of rain. It’s just kept coming, kept coming. On Wallabout and Harrison, the flood was coming up here, to your knees at least,” Calderon said. “I was afraid, like ‘Not again, what is this flood?’ I remember a couple of years ago when the hurricanes came, all the subways flooded and Queen’s Boulevard…That’s how I felt, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Not again.’”

Mayor Eric Adams was slammed by critics for not giving proper notice of the flooding when his office knew of the dangers on Thursday evening and Governor Hochul had already issued a flash flooding warning for New York City earlier in the day. Adam’s office sent out an email alert at 11 p.m. on Thursday, but did not shut down schools and hosted a public briefing around noon on Friday, hours after the worst rainfall had subsided and the governor had already declared a state of emergency across the city. 

The New York City sewer system was originally designed to maintain 1.75 inches of rain per hour, but areas such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard were hit with 2.58 inches of rain per hour, as early as 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., according to the Mayor’s office.

“And so its no surprise, unfortunately, as a result, that that part of Brooklyn and a couple of other particularly (sic) part of Brooklyn have borne the brunt of this,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commish Rohit T. Aggarwala.

Right before noon, the mayor urged New Yorker’s to stay home or “shelter in place,” while many commuters were already at work. On the Wallabout St. and Harrison Ave intersection, Calderon said the flooding became so bad that community members stepped in and dealt with the problem on their own by removing a manhole cover and letting the storm water drain into the sewer systems. 

“People from the community thought of putting gates around, and I had to go do something, and when I came back I could just see a spiral [of water] going down right in the corner. It was amazing. I mean, you could see cars floating,” Calderon said. 

Community members gather around the open manhole drain. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Sandy Spadavecchia was driving his car through the Wallabout and Harrison intersection when the water partially submerged his car, rising up inside and stalling his vehicle. Spadavecchia said he saw a couple of construction workers and Hasidic community members attempt to deal with the problem until someone finally pulled the manhole cover to drain the water. Spadaveccia said he was lucky his car stalled when it did because he could have driven right into the manhole as the water was running into the sewer system. 

“There was flooding and the car stalled out in the middle of going through it and that was it,” Spadavecchia said. “In some ways I was lucky because I stalled out three or four feet in front of that open manhole cover, I might have gone into that.” 

Spadavecchia said he felt the city could have prevented the piles of trash spread by floodwaters throughout the area had residents been told to keep trash inside during the storm. 

“In my personal opinion, they probably should have suspended trash pickup, because I did see a lot of trash bags that hadn’t been picked up clogging [the streets],” Spadaveccia said. “I mean, they knew this was coming so they probably should have told people to keep their trash in for the day.” 

Calderon and co-worker Peter Nieves, both at Top Quality Management, were mopping other stores on the street and picking up trash that had been spread during the floods Friday. When asked for a quote on the flooding, Nieves said he just wanted some help and maybe an alcoholic beverage.  

“Can I get a beer?” Nieves said.

Across Queens, where many residents are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Ida, floodwaters closed roads, impacted public transport and filled basements. Cars were overrun with flooding on Grand Central Parkway and in Rosedale, with a number of drivers abandoning their vehicles altogether. Waters engulfed Rockaway Beach, where nearly every home is considered to be at risk of flooding, suspending Long Island Railroad service

As early as 6 a.m. Friday, travelers at LaGuardia Airport were experiencing inclement weather delays. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for the afternoon across the airport, stopping all departing flights due to the flooding and weather in the area, canceling or delaying nearly 40% of all flights Friday. Terminal A, the oldest section of the airport, flooded with several inches of water and shut down 11 a.m. Friday until early Saturday morning. Videos captured travelers trudging through ankle-deep water at gates across the terminal. Ongoing renovations in Terminals B and C have included flood protections that have not yet been implemented in Terminal A.

You don’t want to miss the Taste of Sunnyside food crawl and block party this year

Sunnyside, Queens is home to many noteworthy food establishments, and once a year, there is a huge event to celebrate. Organized by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, The Taste of Sunnyside 2023 will feature a restaurant crawl, block party with live music, a local art exhibit, and more family fun activities on Sunday, October 15th from 2-7pm.

Over 40 restaurants will be set up outside of their storefront, serving exclusive items to attendees. Experience Mad For Chicken’s Kimchi Fries, Demole’s Ceviche, Limena’s Pico Sour, Chip City’s cookie, and many more popular brands.

The 2023 Taste of Sunnyside (TOS) will showcase the diverse cultural flavors of Sunnyside, Queens. With a wide variety of food, cocktail, and dessert offerings, and live entertainment, the Taste of Sunnyside is back and better than ever. Purchase tickets here.

Actor / model, Blaise Ffrench, can be seen in an AD campaign for The TOS. There is rumor that many other popular food influencers from around Queens will be visiting Sunnyside on the 15th to join in on the fun food experience.

This ticket provides all-inclusive access to the event’s offerings. Attendees will check in for the event at Lowery Plaza (40th Street and Queens Boulevard) or Bliss Plaza (46 Street and Queens Boulevard), under the elevated 7 train, and from there can follow recommended routes on our event map to try each ‘taste’ on the crawl. Attendees will be given a wristlet to get samples from participating venues.

Kimchi Fries from Mad For Chicken in Sunnyside

Ceviche from DeMole Restaurant in Sunnyside

Spicy Pico Sour from Limena Restaurant in Sunnyside

Attendees now have access to the Taste of Sunnyside Block Party, located on 46th Street, between Queens Blvd and Greenpoint Avenue, right under the iconic Sunnyside Arch. Get ready to party with DJ Kevin White, snap some pics at the Taste of Sunnyside photo booth, and lounge while enjoying live entertainment. In addition, Taste of Sunnyside will also host a local arts fair throughout the taste!

Several trollies will be available for those who would like transportation along the event route. In previous years, tickets have consistently sold out in advance, so attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets well in advance.

Stroll along Skillman Avenue, Queens Boulevard, 47th Avenue and 43rd Avenue— or wait for one of two trolleys making stops along the way to scoop them up and drop them off at their desired destination.

(Photo by Angélica Acevedo)

PARTICIPATING FOOD AND BEVERAGE SPONSORS: Their list of participating venues is growing and currently includes (list updated daily):

1. 43rd Bar & Grill (Home of the Atomic Wings)

2. Arcobaleno Gelateria NYC (Italian)

3. Ariyoshi (Japanese)

4. Blended Smoothies

5. Bliss 46 Bistro

6. BK Dim Sum (Chinese Fusion)

7. Bolivian Llama Party (Bolivian)

8. Brookside Market

9. Cardamom Indian Cuisine (Indian)

10. Chakra Café (Turkish)

11. City Tamale (Mexican)

12. Cool Beans (lattes, hotdogs, coffee, and more!)

13. Danubius (Romanian)

14. De Mole (Mexican)

15. Elio’s Ice Cream (Ice cream, donuts and more!)

16. Empire Shop (Sandwiches, acai bowls, and smoothies)

17. Fat Puppies

18. Jack’s Fire Department

19. Kaprichos (Colombian)

20. La Adelita (Mexican)

21. La Pollera de Mario (Colombian)

22. La Vienesa Bakery (Colombian Bakery)

23. Limena Pisco Bar (Peruvian)

24. Maison De Gateaux (French)

25. Mad For Chicken (Korean)

26. Moa Coffee (coffee, sweets, and more!)

27. Mr. Buncha (bubble teas)

28. Makina Café (Ethiopian)

29. Pete’s Grill

30. Ricas Pupusas and Mas (El Salvadorian)

31. Riko Peruvian (Peruvian)

32. Sanger Hall (American)

33. Senso Unico (Italian)

34. SoleLuna (Italian)

35. Sotto le Stelle (Neapolitan Pizza)

36. Spicy Nepal (Nepalese)

37. Sweet Avenue (taproom devoted to local brews)

38. The Spot Café (Craft sandwiches and Burgers)

39. The Globe Tavern

40. Tito Rad’s (Filipino)

41. Chip City

CEO of WATCH GUARD 24/7 To Be Honored at This Year’s Catholic Charities Gala

For former NYPD Lieutenant, John Rafferty, to protect and serve means a lot more than simply providing the community with security. He wants to make a difference.

This September, Rafferty, founder and CEO of WATCH GUARD 24/7 will be receiving the Bishop’s Humanitarian Award by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.

Giving back is something that seems to be ingrained in Rafferty. Even early on in life as the president of a youth club, he was involved in giving back to the community.

Growing up with a strong catholic upbringing, he learned from a young age the impact that giving could have. “I always just try to do good and right by people,” said Rafferty.

Rafferty went through a catholic education program from grade school until graduating from St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. A path that eventually led him to join the NYPD in 1996. Upon his retirement from the NYPD, Rafferty was one of the most decorated Lieutenants, and was the recipient of the second highest honor of the police department; the Combat Cross.

But in 2009, Rafferty retired from the NYPD due to an injury and started WATCH GUARD 24/7. He transcended the hard work and dedication that he developed in the police department into his own company. Rafferty looks at security as an extension of law enforcement and puts his heart and soul into the business.

From focusing on a top-down approach in management, strong mentorship programs, and building a strong culture within the company, WATCH GUARD 24/7 has grown to become one of the largest privately owned security companies in New York, with over a thousand employees.

From WATCH GUARD 24/7’s involvement in the Summer Youth Mentorship Employment Program, charities within the inner cities, running an annual toy-drive, starting the annual Tunnel to Towers New York Golf Classic, to supporting numerous charities, Rafferty uses action to align his company with charities he believes in.

His work eventually attracted the attention of Catholic Charities, who asked for WATCH GUARD 24/7 to propose to be their new security provider on their properties. Rafferty was thrilled to be aligned with a company that had similar values to his own. “Good people surround themselves with good people. And that’s how I look at it with Catholic Charities,” he explained.

The organization, much like Rafferty, is set on making a mark in the community. Since 1899, Catholic Charities has been providing a range of social programs to Brooklyn and Queens. They operate clinics, housing programs, food pantries, and senior living homes, to name just a few.

Each year, Catholic Charities gives out the Bishops Humanitarian Award, awarded to someone recognized for impactful work within the community. When Rafferty learned he would be honored with the award at this year’s Gala, he was thrilled.

“I was absolutely humbled,” he said. “I felt that it was one of the first times since leaving the police department that I felt like I was making a difference. This is truly an honor.”

The 2023 Bishops Humanitarian Award Dinner is being held at Cipriani Wall Street on Thursday, September 28, 2023. For more event details, or to support, visit Catholic Charities’ website here.


OG PapaFern: Bringing Argentinian Pizza to NYC

Argentinian pizza is making its way to NYC, thanks to Argentian born-NYC raised maestro pizzero, OG PapaFern. He hopes to popularize Fugazzeta, an Argentian staple that he grew up loving. 

Fugazzeta is Argentinian pizza similar to a traditional pie, but with a thick crust and topped with onions and cheese. The name “fugazzeta” comes from a combination of the Italian word “fugassa,” which means focaccia bread, and “cibuletta,” which means green onions in Italian. 

Early memories of Argentina for PapaFern include the time spent at his father’s restaurant, Traka Traka, where Fugazzeta and Empanadas were sold in the same vicinity. You may be asking yourself How did they get Italian food to Argentina? Or What do Argentians know about pizza? 

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, Italians flocked to Argentina in search of economic opportunities. Leaving behind a country riddled with poverty and taxation Italians were able to thrive in Argentina. The scarcity of food in Italy led immigrants in Argentina to create exaggerated versions of their traditional meals. Pizza is one of them. Fugazzeta has a lot of dough, a lot of cheese, and a lot of toppings. 

In the hands of OG PapaFern, Fugazzeta has had the opportunity of immigrating to America. Initially, he created his pies only for friends and family. Attending a pizza event, curious about Ooni ovens, Fern ran into Nicole of Last Dragon Pizza who introduced him to Nino, a seasoned pizzeria owner, who was skeptical to try a pizza with large amounts of onions on it. After indulging in the fugazzeta, Nino retracted his previous skepticism and even invited Fern to the NY Pizza Festival to showcase his pizzas alongside him. 

Fern was given the opportunity to witness the public reactions to his pies. He was shocked by the general curiosity and love he received from the public. Fern a Maestro Pizzero has continuously innovated Argentian Pizza since then by experimenting with the best ingredients, cold fermentation, and varying flavor palates. 

 He charged himself with the task of introducing people to the delicacy that is Argentian pizza. For the past three years, he has garnered a reputation on social media for his pop-up shops, involvement in pizza expos, and constant support of charitable organizations. He has also been embraced and encouraged by Felix of Happy Bull Pizza and Serhan of Next Level Pizza. Without the support of all of his pizza colleagues, there may have been no OG PapaFern Fugazzeta. 

Additionally, OG PapaFern strives to give back regardless of whether it is voluntary or through donation. 

“A lot of my existence is based on helping people,” Fern says. 

During Hurricane Sandy, in late 2012, he would ride his scooter to and from Breezy Point, NY. He carried with him boxes filled with supplies. The Maestro Pizzero works with charities like Slice Out Hunger, which fights food insecurity nationwide, and Direct Relief Organization, which provides humanitarian aid following disasters. 

 Fern’s success in popularizing Fugazzeta shows how food can be a bridge between cultures and bring people together. Be on the lookout for his collab with Nino’s AQ in Astoria as well as other restaurant pop-ups and books in the near future.

 “I am very happy to collaborate and do pop-ups with people who want to expand Argentinan Pizza,” Fern cheerfully expressed. 

 Stay connected with his journey on Instagram @og_papafern.

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