Goldfish Swim School cuts ribbon in Atlas Park

By Jessica Meditz

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Goldfish Swim School staff, local leaders and community members gathered at the new location to celebrate the ribbon cutting.

Goldfish Swim School commemorated the recent grand opening of its Glendale location inside The Shops at Atlas Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 2.

Staff members, community supporters, local elected officials and even their mascot, Bubbles, joined in on the celebration of the neighborhood’s new addition. The Glendale location marks the third Goldfish Swim School in Queens, with the others located in Astoria and Flushing.

Dedicated to teaching children between the ages of four months and 12 years of age the life-saving skill of swimming, Goldfish Swim School strives to do so in a fun, friendly and safe environment.

Goldfish Swim School’s mascot, Bubbles.

Parents in the community have expressed their need for a local swim school for years, according to Rafael Gonzalez, the location’s general manager.

“We’re very prideful that we’re physically here, to help with the mall and to service the community,” he said. “We’re very happy to fill the need of the community, and hope to continue working with community outreach, our local partners here, and have fun in the water.”

Gonzalez added that Goldfish Swim School operates on a proprietary corporate swim structure, meaning that all swim instructors are taught how to properly teach their swim curriculum.

The team focuses on teaching the Science of SwimPlay®, which involves interactive swim lessons encouraging education and skill-building in a play-based environment.

They offer swim education to children of all experience levels, from parent and child classes to Swim Force, which Gonzalez described as a “mock interpretation of a swim team” for their most advanced swimmers.

Held in partnership with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Tom Grech emphasized that the addition of a new business in the borough expands job opportunities for residents and further meets the needs of the community.

Goldfish Swim School currently has 35 employees and seeks to expand to 50.

Atlas Park General Manager Peter DeLucia congratulated them on their opening and noted that Goldfish went through a difficult process before opening on Oct. 6, citing DOB-related issues, construction delays and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a great team here,” DeLucia said. “I’ve been very impressed with their operations; they’re great partners.”

According to the CDC, more children ages one to four die from drowning than any other cause of death in the U.S.

New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilman Robert Holden both stressed the importance of water safety for young children, and thanked Goldfish Swim School for the valuable services and skills they provide to the district.

From left to right: Addabbo, Grech, Gonzalez, Holden, DeLucia

“Up in Albany, we have about three pieces of legislation that talk about water safety in terms of saving a life,” Addabbo said. “Somebody could drown in just three inches of water. We’re all about fun, but just as we look at water safety here, you can also be responsible for saving a life.”

Gonzalez said that the swim school sees between 300 and 350 children within a given day, and that enrollment is up to 1,840 memberships, with anticipation to hit 2,000 in the coming weeks.

The facility offers an indoor swimming pool heated year-round, a state-of-the-art water purification system, a viewing area for parents, modern training equipment and tools, a private space for parties and events, an in-house snack bar and shop and a hair drying station, swimsuit dryers and private changing rooms.

Goldfish Swim School’s Atlas Park location is open from 3:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It is located where The Fair used to be, across from HomeGoods and to the left of Ulta Beauty.

Parents can visit their website or call 929-294-7489 to register their young one for classes.

Richmond Hill Hero Remembered — Group Hails Hero Making A Difference

By Observer Staff

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On Thursday, Sept. 22, an organization that helps law enforcement officers, honored a few exceptional individuals instrumental to their cause. 

The mission of ‘Peer to Peer’ Post Tour Processing is a bit different than so many others that work on behalf of law enforcement. Their unique mission is centered around finding a safe place for support for officers, sharing experiences on their daily tour on a confidential virtual ‘zoom-like’ platform that helps police officers to process unusual experiences of the day. 

“We all should understand the trauma police officers go through on their job each day,” said TTM PTP president and founder Dr. Robyn Cannariato. “That daily exposure accumulates over time. Talking about it and sharing it with others in a peer-to-peer bubble is changing lives, and we’re glad to help.”

Cannariato herself is a retired police officer. She and her team are passionate about changing this terrible trend of officers who die by their own hands following incidents involving enforcement action.

This night the group honored a number of individuals at Russo’s on The Bay in Howard Beach. 

Leanne Simonsen, wife of Detective Brian Simonsen, a 42-year–old NYPD veteran who was killed in February of 2019 while responding to a robbery at a T-Mobile store on 120th Street in Richmond Hill, spoke at the event. Simonsen talked about her struggle to go on. 

“Without the support of some of the people in this room,” she said, “I don’t know if I’d be here.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Simonsen poured her heart out to the 150 people at the event.

Also honored was a face Queens Chamber members are familiar with: Tommy DiMisa. DiMisa works for Vanguard, an employee benefits consulting firm, with a niche in non-profits. 

“Tommy is a special person,” said Cannariato. “His understanding of mental health and his work with non-profits like ours is exemplary.”

Philip Schoppmann received the Meritorious Service Award. 

A board member of TTM PTP, he is also a trainer in the Suffolk County PD and in doing so he spends most of his time working on the mental health of police officers. 

“Peer support teams are a vital part of a police officer’s mental well being,” he said. “It’s quite important that we not only provide education, but also resources for law enforcement, first responders and their families.” 


Queens Chamber hosts Business Expo

More than 140 local businesses were represented at the Queens Chamber of Commerce annual Queens Business Expo last Wednesday at Citi Field. Some of the businesses in attendance included the New York Daily News, BQE Media, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, Apple Bank, Queens Community House, W&M Fire Protection, Solace House, Skyline Cruises, Solucore Elevator Solutions, Flushing Bank, Aetna, She Media NY, World Journal, and many more.

The event began with a keynote address by First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, followed by a panel discussion on the tech industry in Queens featuring Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim, Tech NYC Executive Director Jason Clark, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Committee Andrew Kimball, and PropTech Pioneer CSO Bill Staniford.

During the discussion, Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Grech asked “where do you see the development of the tech industry going over the next three to five years?”

Kimball said he has a “glass half full” view that the economy is roaring back after the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that he expects to see progress in some industries including PropTech, BioTech, and Green Tech/Clean Tech.

According to the NYCEDC President/CEO, the green tech industry could help provide over 13,000 new jobs over the next ten years thanks to efforts to get off fossil fuels and purchase agreements for offshore wind power supplies.

During the Expo, attendees were given the opportunity to meet St. John’s University alum and NY Mets star John Franco, who was on the show floor all afternoon, as well as attend educational seminars, take home raffle prizes, and even take a picture with Mr. Met.

There was also a section of the Expo specifically dedicated to the local food industry, where different business owners provided attendees with a taste of their unique cuisine.

See photos below:

Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Grech

Keynote speakers at the 2022 Expo included (L-R) NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim, Tech NYC Executive Director Jason Clark, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Committee Andrew Kimball, and PropTech Pioneer CSO Bill Staniford.

Hotlier and President of Century Development Group George Xu, center, with members of his family and staff.

Former NY Mets relief pitcher John Franco

Representatives with Apple Bank

Local chefs showcase their delicious cuisine.

W&M Fire Protection at the Expo

Maspeth Federal Savings at the Queens Business Expo 2022

Expanding economic opportunities in Queens

From forming newfound partnerships, investing in e-commerce and even finishing your college education, Queens business owners are adapting to new ways to seize economic opportunities.

Speaking to business owners at the Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World NYC, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams was the keynote speaker at the business resource event hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams speaks at the Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World NYC at a business resource event hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

In the city’s lone casino, it was fitting for Speaker Adams to call on former college students to essentially bet on themselves via the CUNY Reconnect Initiative, which aims to return nearly 700,000 students who have earned some college credits but no degree.

“I want you back,” Speaker Adams said. “My baby for now is CUNY Reconnect and I want you back.”

The New York City Council has called upon Mayor Eric Adams to invest $23 million to fund the initiative that was modeled after a statewide program in Tennessee that acts as a “last-dollar grant”, paying the remaining balance towards an associate or technical degree.

The Mayor’s Executive Plan did not include any funding for the initiative, but that could change before the end of the fiscal year later this month.

Nonetheless, Speaker Adams said the program would benefit thousands of minority women who had to leave school early, no matter what life circumstances got in the way of finishing their degree.

“We can help them increase their earning potential, boost their outcomes and strengthen our workforce,” Speaker Adams said. “This will also power our city’s economic recovery and help employers. We believe this initiative is a powerful solution for our city.”

She called for barriers to be broken, particularly for minority and women owned business entrepreneurs, including access to e-commerce and investments to online storefronts.

“These are all critical steps to support and expand economic opportunities across the city. And we will continue to advocate for these investments on a local level,” Speaker Adams said.

She also recognized Aleeia Abraham, founder of the BlaQue Resource Network (BRN), for her role in organizing a network of over 20,000 Black business owners, consumers and community members throughout the borough. Speaker Adams called the community-oriented collective an “essential part” of the community landscape in southeast Queens.

Abraham highlighted her network’s partnership with Queens Together, a network of borough restaurants and community groups, to tackle food insecurity and access during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We distributed anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 boxes of fresh produce every single week in our community,” Abraham said. “Our group grew from about 3000 members to 10,000 members, all because of partnerships.”

Speaker Adams also called for expanding city and state programs that provide technical support for small businesses, particularly legacy and longtime businesses that are considered “community staples”, as well as immigrant-run small businesses.

The City Council is calling for $1.5 million to help businesses launch online storefronts to meet the growing demands for the future economy, Adams said.

“Far too many barriers block businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly in communities of color, from the opportunities needed to thrive,” she said. “But one concrete step the city can take to immediately help underserved businesses is to facilitate access to e-commerce and make them more competitive and resilient in this digital age.”

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