AAFE Hosts Three Kings Day Celebration

By Alicia Venter


Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) took advantage of Three Kings Day — a holiday predominately celebrated by children — to provide Jackson Heights children a day of entertainment and inform their parents of services in their community.

The nonprofit held their Three Kings Day celebration on Jan. 5 at Blessed Sacrament Church. From 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., children were welcome to get their faces painted, to participate in different crafts, free churros and different gifts.

Three Kings Day is a Christian holiday celebrated on Jan. 6 that celebrates the day in which the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. It is also known as the Feast of Epiphany, and in many European and Latin American countries, parents will buy their children gifts on this day.

At any point, the area was packed with locals partaking in holiday festivities. Approximately 75 people could be seen enjoying the free activities or learning about the different Queens services.

Among the organizations distributing information and various gifts included Elmhurst Hospital, Communities Resist, Commonpoint Queens and the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Council member Shekar Khrishnan, State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly member Catalina Cruz could be seen towards the beginning of the festivities distributing at home Covid-19 tests and greeting their constituents. Speaking primarily in Spanish, each wished the attendees to have a happy holiday and to take advantage of the services provided that day.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (12/29)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

Who makes the holidays happy?

By Mike Porcelli

Workers put up the first Rockefeller Christmas Tree in 1931. (Photo courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

As we celebrate our many year-end holiday traditions and enter a new year and a new chapter in our lives – let’s teach our children, and many adults, about the many skilled workers who make the holiday season possible.

“Tis the season to be jolly” …we greet each other with, “Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays.” But do we ever consider what it takes to make the holidays happy? Most people don’t think about all the things we take for granted, and the skilled trade workers who help us enjoy the holidays.

For example, the symbol of the season in this city – the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It is a brilliantly decorated emblem of the spirit of the holidays.

This tradition, originated by the construction workers who built Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression, continues to attract millions of admirers each year. How many skilled workers did it take to build Rockefeller Center, and how many more are needed to recreate this iconic attraction every Christmas? Starting with the farmers who grow the tree, to the many workers who cut it down, load it onto an oversize trailer, transport it over highways others build, and use huge cranes to lift it onto a stand built by others…not to mention those who use more cranes to install millions of lights and decorations that make it the national representation of the season. Don’t forget the electrical workers who power those lights, and countless other skilled tradesmen.

In addition to the millions of visitors admiring “The Tree” each year, millions more use every means of conveyance to travel home for the holidays. How happy would this season be without the cars, trains, and planes that transport us to holiday family dinners? Without the people who build those vehicles and keep them running, many of us would have a very lonely holiday.

As children, we believe the toys delivered by Santa come from the North Pole. As we grow older, we learn how goods and services are really produced. But for decades, many schools have misled students with another fiction – that the skilled trades are not valuable careers, and they must be college educated to become successful.

Unlike the myth of the North Pole – this one is harmful…depriving many students of rewarding careers.

Children know that without the skilled elves who build the toys and load them onto Santa’s sleigh, there would be nothing under their trees. In the real world, it’s time for schools everywhere to begin promoting the value of trade education and celebrating the work of the millions of skilled CTE graduates – by producing more of them. Schools MUST provide more CTE training, before those who make our holidays happy are gone.

Use this holiday season to teach young children the importance of Santa’s skilled worker elves and teach adults the value of all real-world skilled trade workers. Our New Year’s resolution should be: Create more CTE programs for all students who can benefit from them.

Enjoy the happy holidays provided by our skilled trade workers. We need: many, many more – and then some!

Teach them – now and in the future…and tools make great gifts for many of us!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

Middle Village student honored for selfless deed

By Stephanie Meditz


PS/IS 49 Principal Thomas Carty and Councilman Robert Holden recognized Zysk for his generosity.

In the spirit of the holidays, the Middle Village community honors the kindness and generosity of PS/IS 49 fifth grader Maksymilian Zysk.

While trick-or-treating on Halloween, Zysk noticed an empty candy bowl that had been raided by older children, and filled it with his own candy for others to enjoy.

He filled several empty candy bowls that night, but he and his mother, Monika Zysk, had a special encounter on their way home.

After he filled the empty candy bowl outside Tess Atannav’s home, a woman standing behind them told her own son not to take the candy.

“Max was saying, ‘Yes, I’m doing this so other kids can enjoy it and your beautiful boy can have it,’” Zysk said of her son. “This is the first year he never said, ‘Look, Mom, how many candies I have in my bag.’ He was saying, ‘Mom, look how many little acts of kindness I did today. That feels so good.’”

Later that evening, she was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post looking for a boy whose description matched her son’s Halloween costume.

“There were already 150 messages within half an hour saying, ‘You have to find that boy’…The whole community came together to actually look for Max,” she said.

Zysk contacted Atannav, who told her that two teenagers had emptied her candy bowl as soon as she left the house to take her children trick-or-treating.

“[Atannav] said they were so upset because it was not a little kid, it was teenagers who did this. And she said [Max] came just all of a sudden minutes after and filled up the whole bowl,” Zysk said.

Atannav said that two teenagers emptied her candy bowl as soon as she left the house to take her children trick-or-treating, but Max came to the rescue.

Zysk made sure her son saw the positive impact of his deed and had him read the many Facebook comments acknowledging his selflessness.

“I said, Max, in the world we live in now, those little kindnesses are so appreciated. People appreciate what you did, and that’s the way to go,” she said. “We were shocked and overwhelmed how the community reacted to this. Max just said, ‘Mom I just left a few candies. I just want other kids to enjoy Halloween too.’”

Atannav wanted to spread the word about Max’s good deeds and informed PS/IS 49 principal Thomas Carty and local Councilman Robert Holden.

After Carty recognized Max for his generosity, Holden honored him with an NYC Council citation.

“People were sending us messages that they wanted to give him some gifts and everything. But, as we always say, good words will fill his heart more than anything,” Zysk said.

“I feel like for a 10-year-old to give up candy, it’s kind of a lot, I would say. Especially on Halloween,” she continued. “He was always a good boy. He’s very thoughtful, he loves people, he loves animals…It doesn’t matter if he knows someone or not, he’s there to help. That’s who he is.”

Zysk said that her son has always been sweet and happy, and that he wants to be part of nearly every community service initiative that he hears about.

“He was always amazing, and we were very blessed with him,” she said. “We enjoy every moment and minute and second with him. He’s a joy to be around.”

As a mother, Zysk is extremely proud of Max and the young man he is becoming.

“I always tell him, always be you, and you will see everything is going to be wonderful.”

Local child athletes shop with NY Liberty star

DiDi Richards, DICK’S treat children to shopping spree

By Jessica Meditz


The young athletes got to meet and shop with their idol, DiDi Richards.

Young basketball players had the experience of a lifetime shopping for sports gear with one of their favorite athletes — just in time for the holiday season.

Last Wednesday, DICK’S Sporting Goods’ Glendale location at 73-25 Woodhaven Boulevard was filled with cheer as the young female athletes joined forces with New York Liberty shooting guard DiDi Richards.

Richards served as the girls’ personal shopping consultant for the evening, as they were provided with $150 DICK’S gift cards through a partnership with Grow Our Game, where the young athletes practice their sport.

“Part of our season during the holidays is giving children and underserved communities the opportunity to shop with professional athletes,” said Chris Milton, community marketing manager for DICK’S Sporting Goods. “It’s just something to make the season a little extra special and to give back to the community around the store.”

Milton explained that DICK’S has an established relationship with the WNBA, and a similar event was put on during the summer where the team was introduced to Grow Our Game, which strives to help young girls develop leadership skills, confidence, passion and sisterhood through the sport of basketball.

All of their programs remain free and open to all girls throughout New York City.

“We thought it’d be the perfect fit,” Milton continued.

The young athletes got to meet and shop with their idol, DiDi Richards.

The athletes beamed with excitement when Richards arrived, and they quickly began browsing the store’s selection of shoes, clothing and sports equipment with their role model.

Originally from Texas, Richards, 23, was proud to come to Queens to spend quality time with young locals who look up to her and the sport she plays.

“It’s super exciting to see little kids who want to be in sport because I wasn’t one of the little girls that wanted to be,” she said. “So if I can influence any little girl to be excited to play the sport of basketball, that’s what I want to do.”

Richards also enjoys helping her young fans to establish their own personal style, and be able to influence them in that way.

One mom from Brooklyn, named Taisha, said her daughter, Tahani, was thrilled to be a part of the event.

Tahani is five years old, and was introduced to Grow Our Game at age three — allowing her to discover her passion at such a young age.

“She loves basketball…she knows who DiDi is. So I felt it was so important for Tahani to meet her, and kind of normalize the fact that she sees her on TV and actually comes into the community to do these things with little girls who look up to her,” Taisha said.

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