Dough Doughnuts Grand Opening in Astoria

Dough Doughnuts (Dough), a beloved donut shop with locations in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and Flat Iron, Manhattan opened a new location in Astoria last weekend on May 29.

All weekend, lines snaked up and down the block as locals were buzzing with anticipation of the new addition, which is located on 21-70 31st street. 

“I practically saw the line from a mile away,” said local resident Ian Martin, as he stepped out of the shop, donuts in hand. “I needed to check it out. I can’t wait to get home and try these,” he laughed. 

Customers watched in awe of the unique glazing process being performed behind the window. Dough has over 30 flavors of over-sized brioche style doughnuts, prepared in small batches throughout the day. Their unique flavors include dulce de leche with almonds, hibiscus, lemon berry, passion fruit, s’mores and strawberry boston cream. They even have a vegan selection of donuts. 

The first hundred customers received a free t-shirt with their purchase. In addition to the wide variety of flavors, complementary shirts, and warm staff, Dough launched a brand new cherry Greek yogurt donut. The sweet treat has a sour cherry yogurt parfait spread on their signature brioche-style dough, topped with chopped walnuts and finished with rose water and mint. 

Co-owner Steve Klein told Eaterthat the shop will be opening an additional location in Rockefeller Center in the upcoming months.

Dough was founded in 2010 in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Dough expanded into Manhattan, placing roots in the Flatiron district in 2015 and two kiosk locations Urbanspace Vanderbilt (Grand Central) and City Kitchen (Time Square) were opened after Flatiron. 

The company has recently teamed up with Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer to create an exclusive rainbow pride doughnut crazyshake, which is exclusively available at the Black Tap location in SoHo in limited quantities per day all month long. The dessert consists of a vanilla rainbow shake with a frosted rim, topped with a Dough Doughnut rainbow donut, rainbow twisty pop, sour rainbow belt, rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream. For every shake purchased, the company will donate a portion of the proceeds to the LGBT Center of NYC. 

The Astoria location offers coffee from brewers Bonjourno Artisanal Coffee. The opening hours are Mondays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. To see their delicious menu visit


Remembering The Baba of Rego Park

Stepping into The Baba Catering & Nite Club at 91-33 63rd Drive felt like a journey to a faraway land.
Opened in 1968, the Rego Park cornerstone was the go-to spot for anniversaries, showers, and weddings. It was the only Israeli cafe in America affiliated with a sister spot in Tel Aviv.
“This is where my grandparents Sonya and Khayka celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in a beautiful atmosphere,” said Arthur Ilizarov, who also had his Bar Mitzvah there.
The spot’s slogan was “Have fun Middle East-style.” Patrons could enjoy hummus and tahini, gefilte fish, and kafta. On Thursday night, singles were encouraged to mingle and dance.
In the 1970s, Steve Goodman was a college student who worked one summer as an audio engineer at WEVD.
“It was known as ‘the station that speaks your language,’” he recalled. “I had such fun working with Art Raymond, longtime beloved host of the Sunday Simcha Jewish, Yiddish, and Israeli music show sponsored by Cafe Baba. I can still hear his voice as he enticed listeners to plan a visit to Rego Park.
“At a time when New York was rapidly changing, it was The Baba’s sponsorship that kept Jewish music alive on the radio,” Goodman added.
“A Night In Israel” was coordinated by the Parents Council of the Salanta-Akiba-Riverdale Academy in 1971, which entertained attendees with Israeli and modern music. Art Raymond, nicknamed “The Yiddish Tummeler,” performed a comedy routine.
“I’ll always remember my parents Simon and Elise Salz’s 40th anniversary party in 1986,” said Roz Salz. “They loved listening to Israeli music, and we all sang along with the melodies in a very romantic ambiance.”
Robert Rosner was raised nearby and has since relocated to Florida, but The Baba remains close to his heart.
“I had my Bar Mitzvah reception in May 1970,” he said. “I remember how Art Raymond was there that night. He was the life of the party.”
Musician Ari Silverstein recalled many birthday celebrations at The Baba.
“I remember the belly dancer and the band performing in English, Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish,” he said. “There was also a disco ball.”
It also elicits fond memories for Michael Gluck going back 50 years ago.
“I would visit with my parents on various occasions and had my Bar Mitzvah there,” he said. “Most of the contemporary Jewish entertainers of the 1960s and 1970s performed here. My favorite show featured a comedian named Johnny Yune, who was Korean American and recited Jewish jokes. He was a guest on ‘The Tonight Show’ and was always very funny.”
In 1993, The Baba came under new management and continued as a kosher restaurant and night club.
“The only kosher Russian restaurant around” was headed by Terry Ellis, a native of Soviet Georgia. It was a family effort with the assistance of her husband Alex, daughters Yvette and Nina, ad son Max, as well as business partner Alex Gutgarts.
At the time, The Baba featured ornate chandeliers, lamps, and mirrored walls. Some of the unique dishes were red caviar with blintzes and stuffed fish and chicken in walnut sauce, a popular Georgian food.
Patrons felt as if they were in Russia as they ate blintzes with meat, Loulya Kabob, and Hinkali dumplings. On Sunday afternoons, a violinist and a gypsy dancer would entertain the crowd.
“In the late 1990s, I used to perform there every weekend,” said dancer Sira Melikian. “It seemed like an exotic castle with its diamond-like mirror mosaics adorning the outside. I was very sad to see the façade and its name change, as it was a Rego Park staple. The very special design set it apart from anything else in the neighborhood.”

Filmmaker discusses time, change & COVID-19

Catalina Kulczar has always made sense of life’s difficulties through the visual arts.
Born to Hungarian parents in Venezuela, Kulczar moved from Caracas to South Florida and then finally to North Carolina, where she went to school and began working as a photographer.
“I started documenting everything as we travelled,” Kulczar explained during a phone interview this past week.
While in Charlotte, Kulczar met her life partner Juan Miguel Marin, a musician and member of the Brooklyn-based band LEGS, and the two decided to move to New York to pursue their passions. They eventually settled in Greenpoint, a neighborhood that felt like a natural fit for the aspiring artists.
“Greenpoint used to be warehouses and graffiti everywhere and I loved it,” said Kulczar. “It was one big art gallery.”
However, the area has changed greatly since Kulczar arrived, as the warehouses gave way to new development and the artist community slowly moved elsewhere. Then last year the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, dramatically altering life for Greenpoint and its artists once more.
“Everything had to pivot with the pandemic, including the art,” Kulczar explained.
To make sense of COVID, Kulczar turned, as she always does, to the visual arts. This past March, she released a short film titled “When We Paused” on Vimeo. The project documents the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greenpoint and was shot using 16 mm film to highlight the timeless quality of the neighborhood’s landscape.
“I started the project with film so it would feel natural,” said Kulczar. “Digital can’t compare with how analog film feels, and I wanted this project to show how I felt and how the community felt.”
Kulczar recorded the footage for the film during a series of walks last April. Throughout its entire runtime, only three other people are shown on screen, a far cry from the usual vibrancy of Greenpoint.
“I remember seeing no one,” said Kulczar. “You could hear the silence. I remember only hearing the birds.”
Despite the empty streets, “When We Paused” shifts in its second half to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and the social action that came to Greenpoint in the wake of George Floyd’s death last May.
Kulczar’s camera captures BLM murals as they seamlessly integrate with the timeworn Greenpoint landscape, a stunning visual of resiliency and compassion that inspired the artist.
“The art in Greenpoint became political, which I absolutely loved,” said Kulczar. “People really started taking action. Just look at the McCarren Gathering. They are the perfect example because they still haven’t stopped.”

“When We Paused” was released this past March as a retrospective on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. However, more time has passed since the film’s release, bringing with it even more change.
Vaccines are now readily available and New York City is slowly opening up, bringing hope after such a difficult year.
“It’s remarkable to believe that I lived through that,” said Kulczar, “A few days ago New York had no new COVID deaths for the first time since the pandemic began. We have come a long way.”
However, the sobering memory of all those lost in the past year remains. Kulczar is currently working on another film about the pandemic, a personal documentary that will detail her own experiences.
As more time passes though, “When We Paused” will continue to bear witness to Greenpoint as it was during the pandemic and to how resilient the neighborhood and its people have always been.
“It was a time capsule,” Kulczar explained of the film. “It was my love letter to Greenpoint. We lost a lot during the pandemic, but we still had so much.”

To see more of Kulczar’s work, go to or to Instagram @catalinaphotog.

Public Hearing talks pros and cons of Gowanus Rezoning

Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 6 last week hosted a joint public hearing to discuss the Gowanus rezoning.
The hearing allowed community members to share verbal testimony at either an in-person site in Park Slope or virtually over Zoom. It was the first time that a city land use hearing was conducted using a hybrid format.
“This is an extremely consequential proposal for our neighborhood,” said CB6 Land Use Committeee chair Alec Schierenbeck at the start of Thursday’s meeting. “However, there are many issues regarding the safety and infrastructure of the project.”
Jonathan Keller represented the Department of City Planning and presented a slideshow outlining the proposal.
“We are here after decades of community discussion and nonaction about the Gowanus neighborhood,” said Keller. “During that time the world has changed drastically. The rezoning would celebrate the unique history and features of the Gowanus Canal while preparing it for the future.”
According to Keller’s presentation, the Gowanus rezoning would bring approximately 8,500 new housing units to the neighborhood, including 3,000 units that would be permanently affordable.
The project would also create a 1.5-acre park, new school, and new open spaces along the canal. Keller added the project would contribute to cleanup efforts along the highly polluted waterway.
Before the testimony section of the hearing began, Councilman Brad Lander encouraged attendees to respect those with differing opinions.
“People are often skeptical of rezonings, and for good reason,” said Lander. “I have often been against them myself. However, we are also called to find responsible and democratic ways to create a more integrated and sustainable city.
“I believe that the Gowanus rezoning could be a good rezoning,” he added. “It is not there yet, but it could be. I think it has the potential to bring racial equity and affordable housing to the neighborhood without much displacement.”
Lander delivered his remarks virtually, but later arrived at J.J. Bryne to speak with constituents.
The testimonies delivered varied greatly, ranging from avid support of the rezoning to stark opposition.
“I am in favor because we need affordable housing,” said Joel Hogan, a 4th Avenue resident. “Gowanus was last rezoned in the 60s, which means 80 years of factories leaving and gentrification in the neighborhood.”
Many supporters were similarly focused on the benefits of affordable housing, including City Council candidate Matthew Morgan.
“We are a city, not a suburb or a rural town,” Morgan said. “That means creating housing in every neighborhood, in every place, for everyone. We cannot hold more housing hostage.”

Critics of the rezoning focused their testimonies on environmental factors and the shortcomings of the affordable housing provisions.
“I need proof that the Gowanus cleanup would be concluded before anyone moved in and that the infrastructure could handle it,” said Brigit Rein, also a City Council candidate. “I could not even find a time table for the cleanup work.”
Debbie Stoller, a lifelong NYCHA resident in Gowanus, took aim at the rezoning’s lack of support for the NYCHA housing that already exists in the neighborhood.
“We will end up with a neighborhood that will be one of the tallest and densest in the borough,” said Stoller. “If 70 percent of the housing is market rate, we will be creating a white wealthy neighborhood. This rezoning benefits developers and developers only.”
“We will not support this rezoning until NYCHA residents are included,” added NYCHA resident Karen Blondel.
The Landmarks and Land Use Committees of both boards will vote on the rezoning proposal by the end of the month.
The hearing comes on the heels of a months-long controversy surrounding the rezoning of a large majority of Gowanus. The proposal was originally conceived by the Bloomberg administration, but found new life under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
It would rezone 80 blocks of the neighborhood to make way for new developments, including the controversial plan to build on the highly polluted “Public Place” site along the Gowanus Canal.
Community groups including Voice of Gowanus have constantly fought against the rezoning. Their criticism is directed at both the legal process to approve the rezoning and the environmental risks that could come along with new development.

St. Francis president discusses college’s move

St. Francis College recently announced plans to move to a newly designed campus in the center of Downtown Brooklyn.
The relocation will move the school a few blocks away from its current location on 180 Remsen Street into a new 254,699-square-foot space across the fifth, six, and seventh floors of the Wheeler Building at 181 Livingston Street.
Since the announcement, some alumni have expressed concerns about the future of the 162-year-old Franciscan institution, as well as the connection one of the people who brokered the move has to the college’s former president.
New St. Francis president Miguel Martinez-Saenz discussed the move and the rumors surrounding it.
“The college has been talking about a relocation for more than a decade, this isn’t a new conversation,” Martinez-Saenz explained over the phone. “When I arrived the conversation was about accelerating the moving process.”
Martinez-Saenz explained that while many people hold a sentimental attachment to the Remsen Street location, the cost of refurbishing the old facility would be much greater than simply moving to a new building.
“The challenge with the existing campus is that maintenance is beyond what we could do,” he said. “If we had a master plan to remodel the Remsen Street property it would be a 20-year process. Faculty, students, and staff would be subjected to 20 years of construction.”
St. Francis used the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to help with the relocation process. Patrick Dugan, a St. Francis alum and son of the college’s former president Brendan Dugan, was a part of the team representing Cushman & Wakefield in the transaction.
Since the move was announced, some alumni have noted that Patrick Dugan’s affiliation with the sale seemed suspicious.
Martinez-Saenz was resolute in stating that the family relationship had no bearing on the college’s decision to move.
“The process to identify a real estate broker was competitive,” explained the current president. “We received applications from 12 brokerage houses and seriously interviewed four. Patrick Duggan was a part of the team that came to pitch Cushman-Wakefield, but that was not the reason we chose them. Cushman-Wakefield is exceptional.”
Martinez-Saenz was also quick to dispel rumors about downsizing.
“Although it appears that the square footage is less, from a learning perspective it will be more space,” he said. “We are downsizing the back-office operation in terms of space and are using that space for more academic programs. The board and I were always thinking about how to improve the student experience.”
He also explained that the school has continued to hire during the pandemic, primarily to prepare for the launch of multiple new academic programs.
St. Francis currently has a lease-purchase option for the new Livingston Street location. However, they have not yet sold the property on Remsen Street .
The school will move its academic operations into the new location for September 2022, but will potentially continue using the Remsen Street building for athletic programing.
“We are looking at the possibility of having athletics at the Remsen property past 2022,” explained Martinez-Saenz. “We are also working to secure alternatives so we can continue our athletics program uninterrupted.”
The school’s soccer team already practices and plays at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Martinez-Saenz suggested the possibility of establishing similar relationships with public and private entities to secure access to athletic facilities.
“We are doing transition planning and long-term planning,” he said. “It will be a comprehensive solution.”
Despite some compromises, Martinez-Saenz is confident the new campus will greatly benefit the school going forward, and will be particularly beneficial in the post-pandemic world.
“This space will allow us to be at the cutting edge of technology,” he said. “We want to make sure we have space allocation to very quickly socially distance if needed.”
Located above the art deco Macy’s on Livingston Street, the new campus facility includes flexible labs and classrooms, 300-seat auditorium, 260-seat cafeteria with kitchen, screening room for films, 6,600-square-foot library, and outdoor terraces with views of the city.
The new campus is a component of the school’s larger SFC Forward initiative, a long-term plan to modernize and make St. Francis competitive in the 21st century.
Under SFC Forward, the college will offer new master’s degrees in exercise and sports science, special education, sports management, and public health.

Queens kids to tee off in Jr Home Run Derby Variety Boys & Girls Club and Elmjack Little League partner with MLB

This Sunday, kids across Queens will tee off in a Jr. Home Run Derby at Elmjack Little League. As part of a nationwide program sanctioned by Major League Baseball, the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens is partnering with Elmjack to help bring kids back to the baseball field.

“It’s a great opportunity and MLB is a great partner,” said Variety Boys & Girls Club CEO Costa Constantinides. “They’re doing a great job fostering youth baseball nationwide.”

All kids ages 14 and under can sign up to participate in this weekend’s event, with the winners invited to a regional tournament featuring derby winners from across the Northeast. The winners of the regional tournaments will get a trip to the World Series for the Jr. Home Run Derby finals. 

“I would like to thank Elmjack Little League for hosting this event,” said Charles Malone, Athletics director. “Our partnership with The MLB is something we are really excited about. What better way to kick things off in the community than with a Home Run Derby!”

It’s not all about winning however, as the goal is to get kids out for a fun day at the park, swinging for the fences, and enjoying getting back on the field.

“It’s about every kid smiling,” said Constantinides. “It’s about every kid hitting a ball over the fence, jumping with their friends, and celebrating with their families.”

After a long year where youth sports were badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, partnerships between the Boys & Girls Club and Elmjack are one of many that can help get kids back on the field. Little Leagues across the nation were already struggling with youth participation in past years, and the pandemic only made things worse for plenty. 

In the ongoing Elmjack Spring season there are far less teams than before. Three teams make up the Bantam division while there are just two in Peewee, Division 1, Division 2, and Pony division. With so many kids off the field, little leagues have lost a lot of their shine. Now is a perfect time to kickstart the resurgence of local leagues and events.

“That’s why we stayed home,” said Constantinides regarding the pandemic and lockdown. “We waited for things like this and kids had nothing programmed for them. Now more than ever, they need the Boys & Girls Club.”

Now, kids across the borough can come out and enjoy a nice day at the park, something that many have been missing for far too long. It’s a great sign as Summer begins, and with kids playing ball again, things will start to feel much more normal.

“If you’re a kid in Queens, you can come take your cuts,” said Constantinides. “We’ll see you all there on Sunday.”

To register for the Jr. Home Run Derby, visit The competitions will take place on Sunday, June 13th at Elmjack Little League at 78-1 19th Rd, East Elmhurst and will begin at 12:00 noon.

Freedom Market fosters dialogue and community

After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, concerned Greenpointers responded by organizing the McCarren Gathering. The Gathering, which was organized in part by the group North Brooklyn Mutual Aid, meets daily in McCarren Park to address racial injustice, economic injustice, and other issues afflicting BIPOC communities.
In addition to the daily meetings, McCarren Gathering has organized other events and initiatives since its inception over a year ago. One such initiative is the Freedom Market, which promotes and sells products from local BIPOC-owned small businesses.
“Freedom Market was created because of struggle,” said organizer Trevor Bayack. “It came out of this struggle I saw, the way that racism is rooted in economic issues. So we started coming together to talk strategy so we could channel resources from the haves to the have nots.”
The Freedom Market hopes to achieve this goal by offering exposures to local small businesses owned by people of color. The products on sale at the market range from baked goods to home essentials like soap, and customers are encouraged to bring their own bags and shop sustainably.
In addition to its economic mission, the Freedom Market — like the McCarren Gathering as a whole — aims to foster conversations about the realities of racism and the economic, social, and emotional impacts it has.
Originally from East Flatbush, Bayack moved to Greenpoint a couple years ago. He sees the Freedom Market and McCarren Gatherings as an opportunity to educate other Greenpointers and make the neighborhood more thoughtful and inclusive.
“Me personally, I had never fully felt welcome at McCarren Park,” said Bayack. “That’s why the McCarren Gathering is so empowering, because it’s occurring in a space that was not made for the Black and Brown community.”
“The people at the Gatherings are not people I would normally see,” he added. “After the murder of George Floyd, many people realized that they had to take action. So it isn’t preaching to the choir, but sharing our message with the community that needs to hear it.”

While the Freedom Market and McCarren Gathering is meant in part to educate people about injustice, the event is still primarily focused on elevating the voices and work of BIPOC communities.
“What we try to do at McCarren Gathering and the Freedom Market is let the people most affected be in leadership positions and have their voices heard,” said Bayack. “Our white allies are invaluable, but still they attend with the knowledge to defer to the affected communities.”
The Freedom Market is held every Friday at 7 p.m. near the baseball fields in McCarren Park, weather permitting. Additionally, McCarren Gathering organizes other programming at their daily meetings, including book clubs, open mics, self-defense classes, yoga instruction, and special pop-up events in other locations.

For additional information, follow Freedom Market on Instagram @freedommarketnbk.

Demand for changes on McGuinness following deadly accident

At 12:45 am on May 18, Matthew Jensen — a 58-year-old Greenpoint resident and beloved teacher at P.S. 110 — was struck and killed by a black Rolls Royce at the corner of McGuinness Boulevard and Bayard Street.
The driver sped off and Jensen, who was walking home from his own birthday celebration, was rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where he later died.
The P.S. 110 and Greenpoint communities mourned the loss of a friend, teacher, and neighbor, and now they are demanding action.
Last Thursday, they organized a vigil and rally at McGolrick Park. The event honored Jensen’s life and demanded that the city dedicate funding to redesign McGuinness Boulevard. The event was attended by multiple city officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Everyone from PS 110, I’m so sorry that you’re gathered here in pain and mourning, Mathew Jensen wanted to help kids,” de Blasio said before a crowd of approximately 200, including many of Jensen’s former students. “He is gone because of a hit-and-run crash. He is gone because someone killed him and left the scene, and this is what happens too often.”
The mayor reaffirmed his commitment to eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries through the Vision Zero initiative. De Blasio also reiterated his support for the Crash Rights and Safety Act, a state bill designed to reduce traffic deaths.
“We’re going to apply Vision Zero right here, right now on McGuinness Boulevard, because it’s long overdue,” de Blasio continued. “We are putting money in the budget immediately to redesign and fix McGuinness Boulevard once and for all.”
The five-lane roadway is notoriously dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, and has been the site of at least 411 injuries and three deaths within the past decade. In 2014, McGuinness Boulevard was designated as a “slow zone” with a 25 mph speed limit and delayed traffic signals, yet accidents have continued at a steady rate.
“Every single one of us knows that it could be any one of us killed there,” Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher said. “If we don’t do something, something meaningful, there will be many more who will die on the McGuinness Boulevard.”
“Over the past few days, I’ve received more than 300 emails from our neighbors in support of redesigning McGuinness Boulevard, a notoriously unsafe road,” added State Senator Julia Salazar. “Implementing a plan to transform McGuinness is how we can honor Matthew Jensen’s memory.”

Acme smoked Fish will remain in Greenpoint

Acme Smoked Fish, a longtime staple of the Greenpoint community, will stay in the neighborhood as the primary tenant of a new $550 million mixed-use development at 10 Wythe Avenue.
The City Council officially approved the project this past Thursday, securing Acme’s future in North Brooklyn. Acme’s new factory will occupy four stories and 93,500 square feet. The location will contain a fish smoking and packaging plant, as well as retail space on the ground floor.
“Being in Brooklyn has always been central to this company’s success,” said CEO Adam Caslow. “We’re thrilled to now have the opportunity to not only remain here in the borough, but to also expand our operations as we continue to grow with the neighborhood we’ve called home for generations.”
In addition to the factory, the project will include a half-acre public park, as well as office and and commercial space. The project is overseen by Rubenstein Partners, the same firm that previously worked on the mixed-use development at 25 Kent in Williamsburg.
While new developments are typically accompanied by fears of gentrification and displacement, local elected officials have supported the project because of its economic potential.
“Our small business community has been walloped by COVID-19, and though the impacts have been inequitably distributed, few businesses have been spared from the economic fallout,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “Acme Smoked Fish’s expanded facility will help boost local employment, while accommodating growth that is critical to helping Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and New York City thrive.”
The developer estimates the project will create up to 2,000 jobs, many of which will utilize union labor. Construction at the site is set to begin later this year and is expected to last until 2025.
“Acme Smoked Fish has been an integral partner in our community now for four generations,” said Councilman Stephen Levin. “It supports more than 100 good union jobs, and is a great source of pride that Brooklynites share with people all around the world who love their smoked fish products.
“I’m confident that we reached a plan that will help Acme grow their community presence, while ensuring that this space remains a generator of good, middle-class jobs, for long into the future,” he added.

Local pols urge Cuomo to sign ‘Fred’s Law’

Fred D’Amico loved spending time at Atlas Park, catching a movie and dining at California Pizza. But the Glendale site was the backdrop of a more solemn occasion on Friday, as elected officials and family members gathered in front of D’Amico’s favorite movie theater to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that will bear the late Glendale resident’s name.
“Fred’s Law,” as it will be called if Cuomo enacts the legislation, would require hospitals to allow patients with disabilities to have one caretaker advocate for them in the hospital during a pandemic or other emergency.
On March 27, 2020, Fred D’Amico, who had Asperger’s, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital on Long Island by his family members. But the D’Amicos were stopped at the door and forced to leave Fred in the hospital, alone.
That was the last time they saw him. Restrictions, imposed as a result of the pandemic, prevented the 30-year-old from having anyone accompany him, despite his inability to communicate. Fred D’Amico passed away from the COVID-19 virus four days later.
“We’ve all heard many stories about COVID, but few are as heartbreaking as the D’Amico’s story, because it’s one that could have been avoided,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., who drafted the bill after hearing about Fred’s death.
Addabbo said he was struck by the tenacity of the family and their strength in the wake of their tragedy.
“The family stayed in the parking lot praying and calling the hospital to check on Fred, because that’s what a caring family does,” the senator stressed. “But you know what they were told? That they were calling too much. Really? We have a lot to learn from this COVID crisis and this law will be a start.”
The bill has already passed both the Senate and Assembly with overwhelming support.
“We are here today to respectfully ask the governor, when it gets to his desk, to sign it as soon as possible so we can help those who cannot communicate and advocate for themselves,” Addabbo added.
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, who sponsored Fred’s Law in the Assembly, said it’s not often that you get the opportunity to bring forth a bill that will change lives.
“This was a no-brainer, not only as an assemblywoman but as a mother,” she said. “It’s simply the right thing to do.”
Pheffer Amato, a former paraprofessional for the Department of Education, said she knows firsthand how important it is for a person with special needs to depend on his or her “person.”
“I’ve had calls from so many parents supporting this bill,” she said. “I’ve had colleagues come up to me one by one to support it, too, and sometimes it’s not easy to get colleagues to support an issue. This was not hard at all.”
“This law makes logical sense,” noted Assemblywoman Jenifer Rakumar. “Research shows that family members can provide information to help health care workers form a medical decision.
“Last March the governor signed an executive order similar to the principle of our bill, which allowed one support person to be in the hospital with a pregnant woman in labor,” she added. “Logic follows that people with special needs need someone also.”
A year after Fred’s death, family members say they still feel the frustration and heartbreak of leaving their loved one alone when he needed them most.
“I will never forget the feeling of trying to call and text and getting no response,” said Fred’s brother, John D’Amico Jr. “We can’t tell you how much we appreciate all of your support.”
Maria D’Amico found it difficult to speak through her tears.
“This bill is going to make the difference so no one has to be alone in the hospital and no family will have to suffer the pain that we are suffering every day,” she said. “Please Governor Cuomo, sign this bill. For every parent, please sign it.”

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