Martin Luther School of Maspeth to host Open House event on June 25th

On Tuesday, June 25th, local families from around Queens and Brooklyn will be traveling to Martin Luther School in Maspeth, Queens, to attend an open house event for middle and high school grade students.

Located at 60-02 Maspeth Avenue in Maspeth, Queens, Martin Luther is a top private school that welcomes and values students of all faiths and backgrounds, and has been serving the community since the 1960s.

This Open House event will provide families with the opportunity to tour the school, meet students and administrators, and discover why Martin Luther School has been a top faith-based private school in Queens for decades.

MLS’ Top graduating seniors are attending universities such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, Stonybrook University, Hofstra University and St. John’s University. 

A few notable MLS Alum include David Daraio, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Maspeth Federal Savings, Lou Bekios, Owner and Operator of the Grand Florist in Maspeth, and Tammy Sanchez, Co-owner and VP of The Queens Ledger Newspaper. 

Click here to register for Martin Luther School’s Open House Event.

Martin Luther School is keen on supporting its students to help them discover talents and develop interests on their journey to acquire skills for accomplishing future goals in a learning environment. Each student is given a new iPad as a learning tool device that enables 1:1 experiential knowledge in homework and collaborates on group projects to spark new ideas. The essential combination of creativity, logic, and technical skills MLS STREAMS® qualify students to visualize connections while collaborating across disciplines. 

Students have the opportunity to earn up to 27 credits toward their college education during their active presence at Martin Luther School. College partners are Concordia College – Nebraska and St. John’s University. 

Jackson Heights Greenmarket Bridges the Gap Between Farmer and New Yorker

By Stella Raine Chu

R&G Produce from Orange County, New York. Credit: GrowNYC

To find fresh produce, one needs to go no further than 34th and 79th in Jackson Heights, Queens. 

Here, tents are pitched along the two-block radius in an L-shape, selling everything from freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, baked goods, dairy products and more. The market is open year-round, every Sunday morning. 

Jackson Heights Greenmarket is run by GrowNYC, a non-profit organization looking to supply New Yorkers across the five boroughs with fresh and locally grown produce. Founded in 1970, the organization is responsible for over 160 community gardens and 46 Greenmarkets across the city. 

In order to maintain the quality and authenticity of their products, GrowNYC requires farmers looking to sell at Greenmarkets to meet a rigid set of requirements: they must only sell what they grow or produce, be in full control of their products, come to the market themselves, and be located within their predetermined Region, a circle extending 120 miles to the south, 170 miles east and west, and 250 miles north of New York City. Farmers may not sell anything irradiated or genetically modified. 

“Health is number one,” said Naho Matsuzawa, a regional manager of GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program. “To be able to talk to these producers on their farming practices, their organic methods, how they’re utilizing the crops from last year to fertilize future crops — I think all that is very important for the community to know and have access to.” 

Matsuzawa says that the 250 mile radius that producers are required to be located within means fresh food, a lower carbon footprint, and local support for local farmers. 

The Greenmarket program is also a good chance for all New Yorkers, regardless of income, to eat healthy. 

A shopper browses the selections available at Nolasco Farm, specializing in Mexican produce. Credit: GrowNYC

While the city has launched programs that make it easier for low-income New Yorkers to access healthy foods — Green Carts are food trucks that bring fresh produce to neighborhoods that may otherwise lack access to them, and the Shop Healthy program partners with food retailers in neighborhoods with high rates of nutrition-related diseases to stock healthier foods — more needs to be done. 

About one in three lowest-income households, meaning $25,000 or less, in New York reported food insufficiency in 2023. Since the rise of the COVID pandemic, food insecurity has remained high. While state intervention programs like SNAP Emergency Allotments and free school meals filled in some of the gaps in the food chain, these programs have since been rolled back and left New Yorkers struggling once again.

The prevalence of nutrition-related diseases like diabetes and obesity vary largely by zip code. Determining walkability, access to healthy food, transportation, and prevalence of sodium-filled fast-food chains, where New Yorkers live greatly influences their diet. In a neighborhood like Manhattan’s Upper East Side, 8.8 percent of residents are considered obese. In the South Bronx, that number is a staggering 37 percent. 

But programs like Greenmarkets are looking to change that — all of their locations accept SNAP/EBT and Healthfirst OTC cards. For every two dollars spent using SNAP/EBT, two dollars are earned in Health Bucks, which can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at all farmers markets across the city. 

In 2023, $4 million in SNAP/EBT was redeemed at GrowNYC Greenmarkets. 

“Everyone thinks farmers’ markets are expensive,” said Christopher Novak, co-owner of Abundance Farms in Stone Arabia, New York. Ten years ago, Novak and his wife, Cam McKenzie, decided to leave behind their corporate jobs and start a 200-acre homestead home to various kinds of poultry, swines, sheeps, and goats. Since then, they’ve sold to a variety of markets in the metropolitan area and have been at Jackson Heights Greenmarket for six years. 

Christopher Novak, co-owner of Abundance Farms in Stone Arabia, New York. Novak and his wife started their homestead ten years ago when they decided to leave their corporate jobs. Credit: Stella Raine Chu

“You can go to any upscale chain, I won’t mention names — Whole Foods — and you will find our quality just kicks ass and our price is comparable,” he said. But Novak says it’s more than the cost — it’s knowing where your food comes from and where it’s been. 

“When you eat a hamburger from a fast food chain, it can contain ground beef from 2,000 animals,” he said. “But ours is all single source. I picked up the cow when it was born, it’s been with Mama, it gets real milk, sunshine and grass. It gets one bad day, and after that it comes here.” 

But for all the value that farmers provide their customers — competitive price points, fresh and healthy food, and a community on the basis of said food — there are serious struggles. 

As of 2023, the average age of an American farmer was 57.5 years old. That’s up sharply from 1978, when the same figure was a little over 50. Young people don’t want to become farmers — and for good reason. The barriers to entry are mounting against them, including but not limited to: cost of land, student loan debt, climate change, housing, healthcare and equipment costs. 

Additionally, the overall stress of the agriculture industry leaves more to be desired. Farmers are often at the mercy of the weather, supply shortages, volatile markets and other uncontrollable factors. 

But if the younger generation won’t take up the job of feeding America, no one will. That spells out a big problem for the future of the country’s food chain. 

Anticipating this problem, the USDA has launched programs to aid new farmers, particularly female farmers and farmers of color, providing farm loans and crop insurance to those looking to start their own farms. 

For more seasoned farmers, GrowNYC runs the Beginning Farmer Program to provide those already with agricultural experience the boost they need to establish their own farms, for free. In 2023, the program helped 40 farmers receive legal and financial assistance, and 10 farmers received help launching their own farm businesses. 

“Farmers don’t plan for tomorrow, we plan for a generation ahead,” Novak said. “I’m planting trees I will never see to mighty maples and oaks — but I plant them to leave something for someone that I’m going to leave my stewardship of this land to.” 

For now, farmers like Christopher Novak will continue to feed New Yorkers by providing fresh, locally grown food, no matter their tax bracket. Despite the hardships, they’ll continue to pitch their tents on 34th and 79th every Sunday morning, without fail. 

“We haven’t had a vacation in a decade, but it’s alright,” Novak said. “Because some days you sit at the farm, you share an adult beverage and watch the sun go down — nothing’s run away, nothing’s died. And it’s good. It’s a good day.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citi Field is the go-to ballpark for food and entertainment in 2024

Top NYC food brands deliver a fun experience to baseball fans at CitiField

by John Sanchez & Yasin Akdag 

Left to right: Blaise Ffrench, Enigee (Glazed Dounuts), John Sanchez (Empanada Mama). Photo taken by Eli Kolins for BQE Media.

 

New York Mets Baseball Opening Day was Thursday, March 28, and baseball wasn’t the only thing that fans were excited about experiencing at Citi Field.

Did you know that Citi Field in Queens, New York, was recognized by USA Today as having the best food in any MLB stadium –  twice.

Fans look forward to experiencing an all-star lineup of NYC food brands, including: Empanada Mama, Glaze Donuts, Shake Shack, Pat LaFrieda, Chiddy Cheesesteak, Prince Street Pizza, Pop Up Bagels, and many more at Citi Field during each and every Mets home game.

Citi Field’s newest celebrity chef partners include Anne Burrell, Adam Richman and Judy Joo; and all three have cooked up something new and exciting this season.

Anne Burrell’s Italian Eats features her new Loaded Pepperoni Chips –  similar to loaded nachos, but with fried pepperoni cups. You can find these at Anne Burrell’s Italian Treats on the Field Level section 101.

Adam Richman’s Burger Hall of Fame features his French Onion Soup Burger, and can be found at Section 103.

Joo’s Seoul Bird features Korean Fried Chicken, and can be found at the Hudson Whiskey NY Club on the Promenade Level.

“Highlighting the best NYC food brands is an important part of the food program at Citi Field,” said Jason Eksterowicz, Senior Executive Chef at Citi Field.

“We are a melting pot. At Citi Field, you’re not going to find things that are cool in D.C., or any vendors from Philly. Everything is going to be local to New York,” said Eksterowicz.

The main media event at Citi Field, introducing “What’s New in 24,” took place on March 28th, and the Queens Ledger News Team got a sneak peek at the exclusive brands that are gracing the ballpark this 2024-25 season.

Empanada Mama’s Cheesesteak and Banana Nutella Empanadas, Prince Street Pizza’s Pepperoni Square, Gyro Jimmy’s Greek Grill’s Loukoumades, Taqueria Nixtamal’s Birria Taco and Esquites, and Wok n’ Roll’s Rainbow Cookie Eggroll were a few of the many brands that we enjoyed.

“Empanada Mama is excited to be back at Citi Field this Mets season, and we’ve brought our popular Banana Nutella dessert empanada this time,” said John Sanchez, CMO of Empanada Mama. Empanada Mama was one of the new star food brands last season, and fans raved about their Cheesesteak Empanada. “The food at Citi Field is so enjoyable that even if the Mets aren’t winning, fans still enjoy themselves,” said Sanchez. “It’s a testament to Citi Field’s Hospitality team,” he added.

“We have a very passionate fan base, and they deserve the very best experience at Citi Field” said Taryn Donovan, VP of Hospitality at the NY Mets. “Going to a Mets game at Citi Field is a special experience, and being able to enjoy popular NYC food brands while watching the game with loved ones is a home-run,” said Donovan.

We also got a behind the scenes look at the new Delta SKY360º Club, upgraded team store, buzz-worthy LED lighting, and the dynamic Queens Crew dance team.

 

Empanada Mama

  Cheesesteak Empanadas. Photo taken by Eli Kolins

Empanada Mama serves up empanadas the size of baseballs. Popular for being a snack that is easy to devour, you can’t go wrong with their Cheesesteak, Buffalo Chicken, Greek Spinach Pie, or Banana Nutella dessert flavors. Find them on the Field Level in Section 103 and embark on a trip to experience the food of America del Sur.

 

Glaze Donuts

Custom Mets Donuts. Photo taken by Eli Kolins

Enigee, a partner of Glaze Donuts, invites you to try their award-winning dounuts. Dig into their glazed doughnuts filled with orange Boston cream that’s ready to hit your tastebuds.  Their custom Mets donut is calling fans to cheer for their team, while satisfying your sweet tooth. Go Mets! 

 

Gyro Jimmy’s Greek grill 

 Lamb Gyro. Courtesy of @gyrojimmys

Try their delicious lamb gyro dripping with tzatziki sauce and loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions, fries, and packed inside a pita. Have a sweet tooth? Their traditional Greek loukoumades – fried and glazed honey balls topped with cinnamon powder will leave you craving more! Meet the chef behind the menu, Jimmy Stathakis, who previously worked as a waiter and then started the restaurant business 20 years ago, and during COVID-19 opened the joint together with his partner Billy Vasos wondering where the pandemic would lead them. (that’s what real passion is about right?) Eat like the Greek gods and summon your power like a baseball player on the field! Hoorah! (Knock yourself out and run to the Excelsior Level at the Caesars Sportsbook Metropolitan Market).

 

Taqueria Nixtamal NYC

Birria Tacos. Photo taken by Eli Kolins

Enjoy your favorite sports game by dipping their birria beef tacos with melted cheese cilantro and onions into a cup of broth. To top it off, taste the sweetness of their Esquites (street corn for Spanish). This delicious dessert flavored with mayonnaise, cotija, and cheese certainly steals the show ¡Viva la Mexico!

The owners Rosabla Ruiz & Fernando Luis opened the restaurant 13 years ago, and their  Taqueria is known to be making its way to stadiums and festivals. (Now you can grab it at Citifield’s the Field Level at Taste of the City. 

 

Wok n’ roll

Rainbow eggrolls. Photo taken by Eli Kolins

Dig into these unique eggrolls layered with fun and festive rainbow colors filled with raspberry jam and chocolate syrup. The joint has only been open for three years and offers a new alternative to your regular bowl takeaway with a modern Chinese takeout that comes in specialty boxes. The owner Christopher wants to keep his customers entertained: “I prioritize my customers’ food experience by bringing them something unique like our eggrolls next to doing collaborations with local artists from Long Island where we’re based.” (Try it on the Field Level at the Metropolitan Fry Factory in Taste of the City).

 

Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks 

Chiddy Dog. Photo taken by Eli Kolins

This is their second year at Citi field, and this time around, Chiddy introduces a hotdog-cheesesteak mashup. Two legends in one bite! This is a combo that’ll leave you wanting more! The idea behind the Chiddy Dog, combining cheesesteaks with hotdogs, logically came from the lack of space in the food truck. Mike owns Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks, and the nickname “Chiddy” is adopted from his last name Chidester. He’s been running the business together with his partners Evan and Daron: “Our cheesesteaks were pretty popular alongside our regular beef hotdogs, we thought why not put them together in one, and that’s how the Chiddy dog was born”, Mike says. They’ve been doing cheesesteaks for 10 years, and the peeps love it! (Available on the Field Level in Section 132) 

On the entertainment front, The Amazin’ Mets Foundation introduces a range of exciting initiatives at Citi Field this season. Fans can enjoy The Queens Crew show and explore the expanded Mets Team store alongside a new raffle program benefiting community programs. Additionally, the luxurious DeltaSky 360° Club debuts, offering upscale amenities and gourmet snacks. Each home game presents opportunities for fans to win prizes, which Mets owner Alex Cohen emphasizes on within the community. Anticipation builds for the upcoming season with these enhancements. 

Kudos to CitiField’s Hospitality team for ensuring that even if the Mets season record is lousy, fans will be too busy eating to be upset, said John Jastremski, Host of New York New York Podcast for The Ringer on Spotify, SNY TV Sports Host, and BQE Media Sports Columnist.

The Mets season record is 14-13 so far. You can buy tickets here. Go Mets!

LaGuardia Holds Job and Interview Fair for New Spring Semester

by Sherica Daley

LGuardia Community College students meeting recruiters from private companies, city agencies’, retail and community outreach

At the start of the new Spring semester, LaGuardia Community College held its Job and Interview Job Fair on March 20, 2024. The jam-packed event held endless opportunities as was designed for every type of LaGuardia student: from current students to recent graduates, and alumni. This was created for employers can select from various skills and work experience. The fair catered to all the needs of the students helping them to meet the goal of graduation and being successful afterwards.

The fair brought in numerous recruiters from various private companies, retail companies, and city agencies to meet and greet with students of all majors. Students looking for a summer job or a part-time job with schedule flexibility with the school schedule. Retail pharmacy chain pharmacy Walgreens was meeting with students and giving resumes to store manager recruiter Tyler Huff. He and other managers from the company took resumes from students with no job experience looking for entry-level jobs. The popular retail chain was recruiting customer service associates and offered flexibility for students. Students who submitted resumes were also directed to fill out: applications. jobs.walgreens.com for the area they desired to work in.

Another opportunity for summer jobs in education is becoming a tutor with the Go Foundation. The Go AmeriCorp Fellows Program community tutoring program with an intense focus on student’s developmental needs. The program is a full-time opportunity to tutor students from K-12 predominantly ELA and math classes with weekend flexibility. This is a great opportunity for students looking to gain experience in education and working with children all before graduation. “We are looking for those who are interested in giving back to the community, mission-driven, and open to new challenges” explained campus recruiter Jeunet Fidelino. “ We are looking for someone who can commit to 10 months of full-time service from August 2024 to June 2025,” she explained. You can connect with Fidelino about the next session with the Go Foundation can be mailed to: jfidelino@gofellows.org 

If you like with children but want an adventure outdoors, positions for a camp counselor, come with room and board, with the Fresh Air Summer Camp in Sharpie Reservation in Fishkill, New York. The Fresh Air Fund is a not-for-profit youth development organization for New York City’s underserved communities in New York. Other positions, recruiter Freddie Wade, was looking for were lifeguards, office associates, and driving staff for the upcoming Summer of 2024. Resumes for this position can be submitted at: camping@freshair.org.

If you are an expert on tech and social media, The Pursuit Fellowship can prepare you for a career in app development and computer coding. Past participants are now employed with companies like Twitter, Microsoft, and Uber. The goal of the Pursuit Fellowship is a rigorous program that trains adults from under-resourced communities. The Fellowship also provides career services to assist with job searching. Along with submitting resumes to a recruiter, students can fill out the online application at pursuit.org/fellowship.

LaGuardia students looking to fulfill their internship credits for graduation got to meet a representative from the District 30 New York State Assemblymember Steven Raga Summer 2024 Internship Program. The internship can be virtual or in-person at the district office located at 55-19 69th Street in Queens. District 30 served the communities of Woodside, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village, Jackson Heights, and Astoria. The office is looking for interns interested in their local and citywide government, public policy, and knowledge of social media. They have three internship positions in Graphic Design, Communications, and Public Affairs.

The internships are a minimum of 12 hours per week part-time or full-time Monday-Friday. Interested candidates can mail to Victoria Leachy, at lachyv@nyassembly.gov

Students approaching graduation, have many opportunities to look forward to. Many city agencies and private companies came to speak to students about positions they are eligible for and start applying for, such as a new position with the New York Police Department as an NYPD Special Officer. This is a news position that works with the Administration for Children Services[ACS] to help the City’s vulnerable youth and families. Representatives gave information on the Civil Service Exam and the job benefits: Pension and Union Benefits, higher education opportunities, student loan forgiveness and raises after three years of service. Interested candidates, can get detailed information at the NYC Special Officer page.

If working New York City Youth and Justice system and making a difference in the community can look into a position as a Youth Development Specialist and or Child Protective Specialist.

The Youth Development Specialist is a position on a team with ACS and the Youth Protective Specialist is an entry-level position with the City of New York that starts at $55,000 yearly with raises after 18 months of services to $60,000.

For students interested in healthcare, companies like CityMD are hiring for non-clinical positions in Queens. “We are hiring for Patient Service Representatives and Office Supervisors all over Queens” explained recruiter Lexie Morales. “We are looking for on-site clinical X-Ray Techs, and LPNs,” explained Morales. “Anyone interested can mail their resumes at amorales5@summithealth.com or feel free to reach out with any questions,” she explained.

Other private companies were hiring for healthcare positions at 61st Street Service Corporation.   That was recruiting for non-clinical positions in their Manhattan locations as a Certified Medical Assistant position and Billing and Coding and White Glove Community Care, recruiting nursing graduates of the LaGuardia’s Practical Nursing Program. White Glove offered paid training and experience with ICU-level patients. “We are excited to meet everyone and take resumes on the spot” explained Dianelis Negron, Talent Acquisition Specialist with White Glove. Resumes can be mailed to her at:

dn2533@cumc.columbia.edu.

As the fair started closed, recruiter Fidelino highlighted her favorite part of her visit to LaGuardia “My favorite part of the fair was interacting with LAGCC students, they were all engaged and intentional with their time and questions about our organization and my work.” she explained. “It was such a productive fair where I was almost talking the whole time and I even ran out of collateral!”

The Job and Internship Fair coming to an end

 

 

 

Queens College Hosts 2nd School of Business Breakfast

by Sherica Daley 

“My path was quite abnormal” explained Caitlin King. King, a 2018 graduate of Queens College, visited her alma mater to speak to students at Queens College’s School of Business 2nd #QCBusiness Breakfast in the Q-Side Lounge. King answers questions from current Queens College students about her career and her advice on being successful after graduation.

King, an Honors Economics major and Environmental Studies minor, has been growing a career in successfully improving product merchandising and helping with retail financial strategies to generate more sales and profit for major retail companies. Her career path started as a sustainability intern with an ITAC advisement firm and a manager in Idiel Showroom from 2013-2015. After graduation, she became a freelance Independent Consultant in 2019. She next moved on to being a Planning Analyst and Merchandiser for L Brands. Working with L Brands, she was in the licensing division for Victoria’s Secret Swim. In 2020, she became a Planner of LG Household & Health Care with Avon Cosmetic, next she moved on to be a merchandise planner for ANN .Inc., companies: Ann Taylor Loft and Ann Taylor Factory, Since March 2022, King has been Senior Strategy Analyst for Burlington Stores, Inc. Here, she won four Winner of Excellence Awards and a Spotlight Award in 2023. 

“I am passionate about fashion and product development, merchandising, and financial modeling” explained King. Her passion began as a professional model to get through college. She transitioned from being in front of the camera to joining the business team and becoming the mastermind in improving the development of the financial landscape against top competing retail brands. 

She came in bright and early to speak to current Queens College students and faculty, about what she learned and what current students can learn from her career, insights, and transition in careers. The Q&A portion was an engaging session with students and alumni getting King’s perspective on what she had observed and achieved in the retail environment. “ My favorite part of my job is seeing the impact it has on the firm,” said King. “ All the hard work that’s done has tangible outcomes on the success of the firms,” she said. During the Q&A students asked what advice would she give a current student looking for direction. “ I would recommend trying the traditional route of doing an internship that leads into a division they’re interested in getting proper training within that field. “ she explained to the students. 

The topic of resumes came up and students wanted to know what helps potential employers look for in the thousands of resumes that are submitted for a job opening. King advises that when she looks at resumes she looks for achieving metric results. “ On your resume, each bullet should be result-driven,” she explained. “I would be looking for growth in numbers, such as sales, or profit.” she explained “ This can say achieve growth in sales by 10% or achieve X dollars in sales.”

After the Q&A, King spoke one-on-one with students. King liked how engaging the students were and how they came up with great questions. She was next asked her goals for the upcoming year. “ I hope to lead a team this year” she explained. “ But, if someone wanted to follow in my footsteps they need to be resilient and driven” 

As the King enjoyed breakfast and met with staff and alumni, she networked with Queens College’s student clubs. She explains that student engagement and community outreach are important to keep students in school. King and her strategy team at Burlington volunteer at local food pantries distributing essential food. King is also continuing to learn  with  Google Career Certificates. 

King’s visit to the #QCBusiness Breakfast was rewarding, “ I’m honored to be able to share my journey and hope it gave insight into the retail space.” she replied. She ended the Breakfast with a piece of advice that any student can use in their journey at Queens College and life after graduation, “Don’t give up!” 

The next #QCBusiness Breakfasts will be on Tuesday, April 16th and Tuesday, May 7th. The School of Business is also excited to offer summer courses to CUNY and non-CUNY visiting students. Those wishing to enrich their careers are encouraged to contact Queens College Admissions.

Food Charity Needs Increase in Glendale & Ridgewood

In the spring of 2024, amidst the ongoing recovery from a global pandemic, the neighborhoods of Glendale and Ridgewood in Queens, New York, are grappling with a rapidly intensifying crisis that belies their suburban affluence. With median home prices reaching $862,000 in Glendale and soaring to $1.2 million in Ridgewood, these communities present a façade of prosperity. However, beneath this veneer lies a starkly different reality: an escalating demand for food assistance that challenges the perception of suburban wealth.

The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH), a vanguard in the fight against food insecurity, has reported a startling 181% increase in pantry services in Ridgewood and an even more concerning 281% increase in Glendale. These figures not only highlight a burgeoning crisis but also underscore the organization’s critical role in meeting an unprecedented demand for food assistance amidst dwindling resources. Despite facing challenges such as a decrease in funding, partly due to the exodus of donors from New York City, TCAH has managed to distribute over 25 million nutritious meals to more than 2 million community members since the onset of the pandemic. This response was unparalleled, significantly eclipsing their pre-pandemic impact and underscoring their pivotal role in the community’s resilience.

The underlying causes of this surge in food insecurity are multifaceted. The United Way’s True Cost of Living policy brief sheds light on the grim economic realities faced by residents, which are far removed from the average incomes that the home prices in these areas might suggest. Despite an average annual household income of $94,274 in these neighborhoods, with a median income of $77,350, the cost of living in New York City, amplified by the pandemic’s economic impact, has pushed an increasing number of families towards the brink of financial instability. This discrepancy highlights the inadequacy of median incomes to cover basic living expenses, including healthcare, childcare, and transportation, let alone the inflated housing costs.

The escalating demand for food assistance in Glendale and Ridgewood is a reflection of a broader societal issue, where the true cost of living far exceeds what many residents earn. This situation has resulted in a hidden crisis of hunger and food insecurity in communities that, on the surface, appear to thrive economically. Dr. Melony Samuels, the Founder & CEO of TCAH, emphasizes that behind every statistic is a real person or family facing difficult choices between paying bills and ensuring food security. “The numbers are a wake-up call,” she states, advocating for greater awareness and action to address this pressing issue.

TCAH’s efforts to combat hunger in these neighborhoods go beyond mere statistics. They represent a beacon of hope and solidarity, showcasing the importance of community organizations in providing essential services and support during times of crisis. The organization’s work, particularly in serving 15% of its client base from Glendale and Ridgewood, illustrates the critical need for both immediate and long-term solutions to urban food insecurity.

As TCAH continues to navigate the challenges of increased demand for food assistance, their work is a poignant reminder of the hidden hunger that persists in the midst of apparent abundance. It calls for a collective response from policymakers, community leaders, and the public to ensure that the fundamental right to food is not compromised by economic disparities. The situation in Glendale and Ridgewood exemplifies the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of food insecurity, ensuring that no resident is left behind in the quest for a prosperous and equitable future.

 

Source: 

  • Data, The Campaign Against Hunger internal data systems
  • https://unitedwaynyc.org/true-cost-of-living/ 

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.

Infinity City Celebrates Grand Opening in Bayside

By Charlie Finnerty

cfinnerty@queensledger.com

Integrity Automotive celebrated the grand opening of the Infinity City showroom in Bayside the morning of Sept. 26. Co-owners Jeffrey Weiner and Michael Ianelli promised the community that their ownership would bring transparency, efficiency and respect to the dealership as a small, family-owned business.

“Jeff and I have more at stake than just ourselves,” Ianelli said in a press release. “We have our sons and other family members working in our dealership, and our reputation along with our families’ reputation is on the line. There is always a family member available to speak with.”

According to Executive Manager Jeff Zonen, the dealership staff consists of five salespeople, two managers and himself. Zonen said the dealership hopes to separate itself from negative stereotypes surrounding car dealerships by engaging with the community and showing their investment in Queens.
“Dealerships usually have a bad rap,” Zonen said. “Whether it’s our time, whether it’s our money, whether it’s our influence — we’re here to help the community.”

Zonen, who was born and raised in Long Island and now lives in Queens, said it was important to him that the success of the shop is reflected in and shared by the community around it.

“It’s a lucrative business. For me to come in here and do everything selfishly doesn’t make any sense by me,” Zonen said. “I want to do right by my people, by my staff plus the community we’re in, that’s a big deal to me.”

Billy Kendall, the used car manager at the dealership, began his career in the car sales business only blocks away in 1979.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Kendall said. “I started on 191st Street on Northern Boulevard, and now I’m at 218th Street on Northern Boulevard and I can’t believe it.”

Kendall said the dealership’s respect for his family life is a major difference from the sales industry he was used to before.

Jeff Zonen, Executive Manager and Michael Ianelli, President, at the event. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fass

“When my kids grew up, I worked late hours. Now we have grandkids, by the time I leave here at 6 o’clock, I’m home by 6:15 and I get to spend time with them,” Kendall said. “I get culture shock thinking, ‘I should be in a dealership somewhere, it’s still light out when I’m coming home.’”

Kendall said he chose to work at Integrity because he wanted to be at a family owned business. After working at a larger corporate dealership, he saw an opportunity for a different work environment.

“I know Jeff, and that’s why I came here. I had a job. I wasn’t looking for a job, they found me,” Kendall said. “I want to work for a family-owned business that understands that I have a life and the customer has a life. I want to be respected, I don’t want to be a number.”

Kendall said he believes the approach Integrity Automotive has taken to the dealership business will allow them to stick around much longer than short-sighted competitors.

“There’s long termers and short termers. I’ve seen a lot of short termers come into the business thinking you have to be seedy and slimy,” Kendall said. “When that person comes [to Integrity], they last about seven days. Because by the seventh day, you don’t want that reputation.”

Zonen said he sees mutual respect between the salesperson and customer as essential to sustaining the business.

“You treat people they want to be treated,” Kendall said. “Everyone needs a car. The king needs a car and the garbage man needs a car, and everyone in between.”

“By default, I have to do the right thing. It’s me here, I’m in a glass office. People are going to come in here and my name is attached to how we do business. I want to be a guy that treats people right. I don’t want people to come in here just because we have the best prices,  I want then to come here because they want to do business with good people and that’s what we’re all about,” said Zonen.

Zonen said that Integrity Automotive structure as a small business allows the staff to avoid the numbers-driven approach to sales that larger dealerships have to pursue in order to maintain corporate quotas.

“We like the direct connection between us and the consumer. There’s no hiding, there’s no game, there’s no fees. People come in here, they get treated the right way with respect, transparency and integrity,” Zonen said. “We live by that. Anybody can come in here and walk right into my office and have a conversation with me. Try that somewhere else. Go into any dealership and ask for the general manager, they’ll protect him like he’s the president of the United States. Not here, man.”

Brooklyn and Queens Flooded in the Midst of the Workday

By Oona Milliken, Matthew Fischetti and Charlie Finnerty | news@queensledger.com

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.

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