Maspeth Federal Savings teaches financial literacy to Molloy High School students

By Jessica Meditz

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Toya Brown gives Molloy High School students a seminar on credit and debt.

Last Thursday, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank (MFS) ventured out into the community to educate students about financial literacy.

Employees of the bank visited Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood as part of their commitment to community involvement and sharing valuable information with youth.

Toya Brown, assistant bank officer and executive assistant to David Daraio, senior vice president and COO, and Michael Corteo, senior credit analyst, gave a slideshow presentation to the students, sharing quintessential talking points about all things savings, budgeting and credit.

Michael Corteo’s portion of the seminar focused on savings and budgeting.

“Maspeth Federal has a very long history of giving back to the community, and one of the things that we recently started in the last couple of years was financial literacy amongst not just high schools, but colleges,” said Akshay Mehandru, vice president and credit manager at MFS. “Our goal for starting this was to educate the younger generation, providing financial literacy to them, that they may not have access to or have conversations about with their peers.”

Although he wasn’t at the most recent presentation, Mehandru has much experience giving these lessons to students.

He said that because they’re usually so busy pursuing other milestones in their lives, students don’t always have the opportunity or time to have these important conversations.

“I genuinely love talking about loans, credit and making smart financial decisions young because I’ve been there. When I was back in high school, I wanted to have something like that – I should have had something like that – but it was never brought up,” he said.

He feels it’s essential to educate young people about things such as how to get a credit card, where to save money, how to get a car loan or what loan options they have.

Brown, whose portion of the presentation included the topics of savings and budgeting, emphasized the key five steps to managing a budget – which are evaluating one’s needs versus wants, setting goals, knowing one’s income and expenses, formulating a spending plan and sticking to that plan.

“Our mission is to get young people aware of their finances: the point of having a savings and checking account, and the importance of credit,” she said. “All of this knowledge is out there, but it’s not always put into an easy way for kids these days to understand.”

Half the battle is getting children and teens to listen to this advice in the first place, and Brown is confident that the Molloy students were actively listening and engaged.

“They had a lot of questions, especially when it comes to credit…but also budgeting for college and how to save up for that,” she said.

MFS aspires to continue sharing these life lessons with Queens youth, and encourages any interested school or business to visit their website and request a seminar on financial literacy. 

Maspeth Federal Savings becomes an official bank of St. John’s Athletics

Maspeth Federal Savings (MFS) is now an official bank of St. John’s University Athletics, strengthening its visibility and connection across the St. John’s community with basketball game sponsorships and plans to launch an on-campus ATM and co-branded debit card.

The partnership between these two storied New York institutions began in 2018.

MFS has several initiatives reflecting the challenges and values that define young New Yorkers, including their interest in entrepreneurship and environmental, social and governance (ESG).

According to NASDAQ, 40 percent of Gen Zers make financial decisions driven by companies with purpose.

MFS Gen-Z focused programs include: financial literacy seminars to nurture Gen Z’s high entrepreneurial ambitions—more than 70% of people aged 18–24 plan to start a side hustle—and combat the growing amount of financial misinformation targeting youth across social media; robust summer internships providing opportunity and education; sustainability programs including community Recycling Days and electric vehicle charging stations in MFS parking lots; and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to effect positive change across the MFS community as well as Bank-On certified products to help ensure access to safe and affordable banking for all.

“Many of us at Maspeth Federal Savings are St. John’s alumni, so this initiative is near and dear to our hearts,” said MFS President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rudzewick. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the next generation as they make plans for tomorrow, be it starting a business, buying a home, planning a trip or pursuing further education.”

Sponsored games include Sunday, Jan. 29 vs. Georgetown at Madison Square Garden.

January’s tipoff marks the 121st meeting of one of the BIG EAST conference’s greatest rivalries between St. John’s and Georgetown.

In their last showdown, the Johnnies topped the Hoyas 90-77 in Washington, D.C.

An additional sponsored game will be held at Carnesseca Arena on February 18th, 2023 against the Creighton Blue Jays.

Launch dates for the debit card and on-campus ATM, located in the Marillac Dining Hall, will be announced in 2023.

“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Maspeth Federal Savings and further the connection with our campus and fanbase,” added Kevin Waters, St. John’s Sports Properties General Manager. “We look forward to working with them on their creative approach to our partnership.”

For more information, contact Gloria Benfari, MFS Vice President & Marketing Director, at [email protected]

First-of-its-kind Pediatric Ophthalmology Center opens at Jamaica Hospital

By Alicia Venter

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Maspeth Federal Savings donated $1 million to the hospital for the opening of the center. Thomas Rudzewick, President & CEO at Maspeth Federal Savings (center) stands with Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech (right) and David Daraio, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Maspeth Federal Savings (left) for the plaque unveiling in the center.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center unveiled its pediatric ophthalmology center on Thursday, Dec. 8, a state-of-the-art facility unlike any others in Queens.

Located on the second floor of the Axel Building, the new facility will provide daily vision services to children who previously may have had limited access to comprehensive ophthalmologic care.

Though there are other pediatric ophthalmology in Queens, there was not a center of excellence that combined all the services Jamaica Hospital Medical Center now has into one place. Such services would require Queens residents to travel to Long Island or Manhattan.

Maspeth Federal Savings donated $1 million to complete the center, following years of planning by Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. The organization is the sole donor to the pediatric ophthalmology center, the hospital shared.

It is this donation that propelled the completion of the project, said Dr. Julia Shulman, Chairperson of the Department of Ophthalmology and pediatric retina specialist.

“There is a big shortage of high-level pediatric ophthalmology expertise in Queens, and we see that in our current eye center because we take care of pediatric patients,” she shared in an interview. “We wanted to be able to create a dedicated space where all the necessary technology and expertise could come together.“

In the past, services could not be provided every day of the week because of space limitations, and children would be serviced in the same center as adults.

However, there are certain space requirements for examining children that are different from adults. The rooms must be 12 feet, for example. Every type of diagnostic equipment that could be needed to examine a child’s eye can now be found in the center, Shulman explained.

“It’s essentially a one-stop shop depending on what the issue is that we can help them with,” she said.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four preschool-aged children have an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem. They recommend that children get regular eye exams to keep their eyes healthy. Common vision problems in children include refractive errors, amblyopia (or ‘lazy eye’) and strabismus (crossed eyes). Any of these issues, as well as simply getting a vision screening for a quick evaluation of a child’s eyes, can be addressed at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 and older, the CDC states, and one of the most prevalent conditions among children. Approximately 6.8 percent of children younger than 18 in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition, and nearly three percent of children of that age are blind or visually impaired.

“If their children are having any trouble with their eyes, or if they just want to have their children’s eyes checked, now there is going to be tremendous availability,” Shulman said. “If, heaven forbid, their children do end up having a problem, we will be able to diagnose it and treat it at a very high level.”

Thomas Rudzewick, President, and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings, was in attendance at the ribbon-cutting, as well as other members of the Maspeth Federal team.

Bruce J. Flanz , Dr. Julia Shulman, and Thomas Rudzewick cut the ribbon for the new center.

“Maspeth Federal Savings has been working with Jamaica Hospital throughout the pandemic and has provided mission-critical equipment and supporting donations,” Rudzewick said in a statement. “As a community bank, it’s incredibly important to us that the people and facilities in our community have the resources they need to do what they do best, in this case, providing care that our children desperately need.”

Rudzewick was praised for the contributions the bank made to ensure the completion of the project.

“Think about the impact of this donation,” said Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, at the ribbon-cutting. “We are grateful as New Yorkers and as people in Queens. We are thankful to all the Rudzewicks.”

According to their website, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and Eastern Brooklyn.

For more information about the center, visit https://jamaicahospital.org.

56th annual Maspeth tree lighting awakens holiday spirit

By Jessica Meditz

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L to R: Grace Meng, Kristen Sapienza, Maryanna Zero, David Daraio, Michael Terry, Robert Holden, Tom Rudzewick. (Photo: Zachary Simonetti)

Last Friday, the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce brought holiday cheer to the neighborhood with its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Held in Maspeth Memorial Square, a sentimental corner of the neighborhood, locals gathered with their loved ones to sing Christmas carols, watch live performances and wait patiently to meet Santa.

Musician Robert Laucella serenaded the crowd with classic Christmas songs, including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Michael Terry, president of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce thanked the audience for their enthusiasm as well as the event’s sponsors: 69th Street Beer Distributor, Barbara Pryor, Blossom Nails, Croce Entertainment, Duffy’s Floor Service, Jim Von Eiff Insurance Agents, Maspeth Federal Savings, Maspeth Town Hall, Michael Falco, O’Kane Realty, Papavero Funeral Home and this newspaper, the Queens Ledger.

Congresswoman Grace Meng spoke at the event, feeling gratitude for the district she represents, along with the holiday season being back in full swing.

“Thank you so much to the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, Maspeth Federal Savings and all the sponsors for making this event possible. Every year, our community gets to come together and watch this amazing Christmas tree get lit,” she said. “You can’t get a better view of the Manhattan skyline than from right here in Maspeth, so I’m proud to represent Maspeth and other parts of Queens.”

Councilman Robert Holden wished the crowd an enjoyable holiday season and encouraged folks to shop locally on Grand Avenue.

He also shared his plan, along with the help of Meng, to cap the Long Island Expressway to “unite Maspeth like the old days.”

“It would be one Grand Avenue — not upper, not lower, but one continuous shopping area and maybe a park or a parking area for cars to help the storekeepers,” he explained.

To add to the Christmas spirit and sense of community, dancers from The Queens Movement Studios performed an upbeat hip-hop routine for the audience.

The St. Stan’s Players followed shortly thereafter, singing and dancing to “We Need a Little Christmas.”

In the spirit of giving, two raffles were held, and two lucky winners got to go home with a brand new bicycle and a VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch.

The highlight of the evening was when Santa Claus arrived, greeting all the children with gifts and a warm smile.

Santa came for a visit at the end of Maspeth’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. (Photo: Zachary Simonetti)

Although the tree lighting ceremony occurs annually, a Middle Village resident named Angelina said events like the tree lighting are essential to the community.

“They really put a lot of effort into it year after year,” she said. “With all the craziness going on in the world, this is something that is done for the children in our community to bring them happiness and spread holiday cheer. I am thankful to be a local and be able to go to these events every year.”

Maspeth honors Squad 288, Hazmat 1 firefighters 21 years later

Memorial ceremony remembers those lost on 9/11

By Jessica Meditz

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The young nieces and grandchildren of deceased firefighter Dennis Carey of Hazmat 1. (Photo: Walter Karling)

In true “Maspeth is America” fashion, residents gathered on Grand Avenue to remember Sept. 11, 2001, 21 years later.

At a ceremony held by Maspeth Federal Savings at Maspeth Memorial Park, the community honored the firefighters of Squad 288/Hazmat 1 who perished in the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

Squad 288/Hazmat 1 had the single largest loss of firefighters of any FDNY firehouse.

Kenneth Rudzewick, emcee of the event, cited the importance of holding memorial ceremonies like this one every year, “We gather here in Maspeth and across America to mark the unfinished work of remembering. There will never be a time when this work is finished.”

“I’m sure you, as I do, remember what you were doing and how you received the dreadful news on 9/11. That day changed the lives of everyone in America,” he continued.

Like Rudzewick, other longtime guests took part in the event — including Msgr. Joseph Calise of St. Stan’s; Vincent Tomeo, retired high school teacher and poet; Bill and Liz Huisman, a husband and wife musical duo; Mike Aylward, who read the names of the fallen first responders; John Christ, who performed “Taps” and Kathleen Nealon, who sang the national anthem.

Kathleen Nealon and the St. Stan’s Players sing the National Anthem as two members of the audience salute. (Photos: Walter Karling)

“It’s an honor to sit here today in memory of all those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as those who continue to die of 9/11-related illnesses,” Nealon said. “I keep them and their families in my prayers always. God bless them and God bless America.”

The memorial especially honored Maspeth residents who perished as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Firefighters lay the wreath in honor of Squad 288/Hazmat 1.

Local elected officials joined the community in remembrance, including Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Councilman Robert Holden and State Senator Michael Gianaris.

They discussed the importance of not only remembering and honoring the lives lost in the present, but also how to carry out their memory to future generations.

“For these memories to live on, for the sacrifices to be remembered, they have to be taught…I saw as the flags are being laid so many future generations here, and it’s on us to make sure they don’t forget what happened,” Gianaris said.

“It’s important to learn the lessons of those days, the lessons of sacrificing for freedom, the lessons of selflessness and of giving one’s life to save others,” he continued. “As time goes on, it will be on us to find people who didn’t experience it, who will continue to teach the lesson.”

Holden echoed his sentiment, and emphasized his wish to see the Maspeth firehouse recognized as a landmark.

He alongside the Juniper Park Civic Association have fought for this, however The Landmarks Preservation Commission turned down their request, because it has been less than 30 years — much to his dismay.

He also reminisced on the sense of solidarity among New Yorkers and Americans following the attack, and hopes to see it return.

“Remembering the days following 9/11, everybody was together, everybody was cheering on first responders. Everybody was thanking them. We were united; we were a true United States,” he said.

“We have to get that back again…in my lifetime, I’ve never seen us so divided. We probably haven’t been this divided since the Civil War,” he continued.” So we have an urgent responsibility as elected officials to unite our constituents on a common cause to keep us safe.”

Maspeth Federal Savings celebrates 75 Days of Giving

Lucky local wins Ford Mustang Mach-E

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Last Wednesday, Maspeth’s music lovers of all ages traveled back in time to a night of doo-wop classics and ‘60s hits.

The Crystals, The Happenings and Bobby Wilson graced the stage of Maspeth Federal Savings’ culmination of their summer concert series—as part of their 75 Days of Giving initiative.

With flashy lights and even pyrotechnics coming from the stage, concert-goers danced the night away and sang along to the nostalgic tunes.

The Crystals sported sparkly dresses, living up to their name. They opened up the concert with the well-known “Chapel of Love,” made famous by The Dixie Cups in 1964.

The Crystals. (Photo: Jessica Meditz)

Led by Brooklyn’s own Dolores “Dee Dee” Kenniebrew, an original member of the group, The Crystals went on to sing other classics such as “Rescue Me,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “He’s A Rebel.”

After The Crystals closed out with a soulful expression of “I’ll Be There” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the Maspeth Federal Savings team took the stage to announce the winner of a Ford Mustang Mach-E, the grand prize of their 75 Days of Giving celebration.

“Maspeth Federal has been here for 75 years serving these great communities, and we’re so proud to announce that we’ve raised over $20,000 for charities during our 75 Days of Giving,” said Thomas Rudzewick, president and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings.

“We’re very proud to announce that there were over 3,000 entrants to win this beautiful Ford Mustang Mach-E,” he continued. “I’m so thankful for this great event and 75 years of serving the community.”

After an intern from Maspeth Federal spun the canister with the entries, Rudzewick announced the winner as Martyna Kowalski, a nurse in the area and a customer of the bank.

The Happenings, led by Bobby Miranda, kept the excitement going with their matching red jackets and enthusiasm.

The Happenings, led by Bobby Miranda.

They serenaded the crowd with hits such as “See You in September,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Go Away Little Girl,” and closed out their performance in true “Maspeth is America” fashion with “God Bless the USA.”

Bobby Wilson, the son of famed soul singer, Jackie Wilson, closed out the show performing hits of his father’s, as well as other R&B and doo-wop classics.

As part of their 75 Days of Giving, Maspeth Federal Savings put on other concerts throughout the series: Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra, a polka music band; The Chiclettes, performing rock & roll, motown and disco hits; and Louis Del Prete, a singer, dancer and musician performing music throughout the decades.

Additionally, the bank awarded other prizes throughout the 75 days, including a Roku, Apple Watch, iPad and Mets tickets.

Bobby Wilson. (Photo: Jessica Meditz)

They also initiated a sense of community through giving out gift cards to local businesses, such as Aigner Chocolates, Valentino Food Market, O’Neill’s Restaurant and Eddie’s Sweet Shop.

“The 75 Days of Giving was a tremendous success,” said Jill Nicolois, assistant vice president and community affairs director at Maspeth Federal Savings.

“To say [the winner of the car] is excited would be an understatement. We are so thrilled for her,” she continued. “It was great to see people excited to come in and anticipate things, and to serve the neighborhood.”

Maspeth Federal Savings continues to host community events, including the upcoming Movie Nights featuring “Luca” and “Encanto” on Aug. 19 and 26, respectively, the annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Sept. 10 and the Smile On Maspeth Carnival on Sept. 18.

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