Let Al speak

Dear Editor,
The unannounced last-minute cancellation by CBS of August 16’s “United States of Al” episode will not soothe America’s guilt.
The Biden Administration’s incompetent planning for the evacuation of thousands of our own citizens along with Afghans who served as interpreters or worked for Americans will do nothing to save their lives.
The Taliban will extract their revenge in coming days, weeks and months for those citizens who worked with us during the 20 year war in Afghanistan.
It is too bad that no one in the Biden administration paid attention to the end of one episode of “United States of Al.”
Two of the actors, Adhir Kalyan who plays Al the Afghan interpreter, and Parker Young who plays Riley the Marine promoted a private organization dedicated to bringing Afghan citizens, who put their lives on the line for us, helping them come to America.
CBS should be ashamed of themselves for promoting Taliban-style censorship to America.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Drug alley

Dear Editor,
A lack of community planning in Community Board 8 has resulted in seven pharmacies within two square blocks in Briarwood, five of them being small mom-and-pop joints, one with only signage, and another a marijuana dispensary. Three of them are dirty and poorly stocked with over-the-counter items, and another closed most of the time.
None of them have private patient consultation areas or glucose or cholesterol testing. I want the state to investigate all of these Briarwood drugstores until we get just one CVS or Rite Aid to drive them all out of business.
We don’t need seven contiguous drugstores in this neighborhood.
Joseph N. Manago

About face

Dear Editor
Then-president Donald Trump announced the U.S. would leave Afghanistan in May. All his supporters cheered and backed him 100 percent. But now, It’s all Biden’s fault that Afghanistan has gone to hell.
The American occupation of Afghanistan has cost the U.S. $2.6 trillion. Who knows where that money goes? The president of Afghanistan fled with over $169 million. The U.S. poured $90 billion into an Afghan military that crumbled in just eleven days.
The same people who are saying we can occupy Afghanistan for multiple generations in an attempt to turn it into Denmark are the same people here in the U.S. who are saying no to universal childcare, paid family leave, paid pre-school, food stamps for the hungry, and health coverage for all Americans.
If Trump announced that he was a communist, Republican leadership would immediately begin calling each other “comrade.”
Robert LaRosa Sr.

Richards hosts vigil, launches donation drive for Haiti

Borough President Donovan Richards hosted a vigil in partnership with Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) to honor the more than 2,000 people who died in a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation.
“From natural disasters to political turmoil, Haiti has been dealt blow after blow in recent years, but the resolve of the Haitian people and our Haitian American community is unmatched,” said Richards. “In the wake of this destructive earthquake, Queens stands ready to offer a helping hand to our Caribbean neighbors in their time of need.”
To assist in Haiti’s recovery, Richards launched a donation drive in support of the countless Haitian families impacted by the earthquake.
“As much as it saddens me to see Haiti go through yet another disaster in the midst of its existing challenges, I, along with my Haitian brothers and sisters, remain ever more committed to a better and stronger Haiti for generations to come,” said HAUP CEO and executive director Elsie Saint Louis. “My heartfelt gratitude to the friends and partners of the Haitian people who continue to reach out in so many big and small ways in support, empathy and collaboration.”
Until September 22, donations of bottled water, non-perishable food, personal care products, toiletries and feminine hygiene products can be dropped off at Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The lobby is open 24 hours a day.
“I think the people of Haiti are not just resilient but we are strong, we are smart, we are determined,” said Saint Louis. “What we need is for you to stand by Haiti, this is not the time to give up on this country.”

You have the chance to change a life

You have the opportunity to help change someone’s life, and it won’t cost you a penny. All you have to do is tell someone you know about the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center for Women right here in Woodhaven.
Perhaps you know a woman who never got the opportunity to finish high school. That diploma can often be the key to a better future, it can open the door to better job opportunities or maybe even a promotion at a current job. A high school diploma can be the first step in going to college.
In less than a month, the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center for Women will begin holding open registration for their tuition-free classes for the 2021-2022 school year.
To ensure the safety of all students, you must have proof of vaccination in order to attend classes at SSNDEC Woodhaven.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center offers classes to prepare women to take the TASC (formerly the GED). To register, visit the center at 87-04 88th Avenue across from St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Monday, September 13, between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The classes are for women 20 years or older, who are committed to working toward their high school diploma and can attend classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
They should also have sufficient reading and writing skills in English to work on the high school equivalency curriculum.
If you know someone whose English skills need some work, or perhaps they cannot speak the language at all, the School Sisters also offer ESL (English as a Second Language) courses.
Again, these classes are tuition-free and offered at six levels, from Introductory to Level 5. Classes are scheduled between Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The schedule will vary depending on the level.
All women must take a placement test to determine their level. This test will be given on Tuesday, September 14, at 10 a.m. and again in the afternoon at 1 p.m.
What a difference you could make in the life of the person you share this information with. Not only will it make a difference in the life of that person, but the impact will be felt by their children and the entire family.
Changing the lives of women and their families was exactly what SSNDEC executive director Sister Catherine Feeney had in mind when she and her fellow sisters opened the educational center in 2003 in Ozone Park.
In those early days, the center had just over a dozen students and it was strictly a GED program.
In short order, they also saw a need for an ESL class so they could serve a larger segment of the community. The classes were such a hit they soon needed to find larger quarters, and that’s what brought them to Woodhaven, taking up residence in the former convent that was the home to the nuns that taught in St. Thomas the Apostle.
After the move to Woodhaven, the School Sisters had the room to expand. And with convenient access to transportation – it is near the J train and the Q56 bus along Jamaica Avenue, the Q11, Q21, Q52Ltd, Q53Ltd, and QM15 along Woodhaven Boulevard, and the Q24 along Atlantic Avenue – they were able to greatly increase the number of women they could help.
Well over 2,000 women have been helped by the School Sisters in the years since they opened their doors. And as a byproduct of these classes, their children and entire families are helped. As a result, this can only help improve our neighborhood.
I have been honored to see the students of SSNDEC over the years thrive in the warm, encouraging environment provided by the teachers there.

If anyone has any questions or would like to RSVP for the open house, the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center for Women in Woodhaven can be reached at (718) 738-0588 or email at ssndec@aol.com. Visit their newly renovated website for more information.

The mayor that once lived in Forest Hills

Forest Hills has had a lot of notable residents over the years. Among them is former mayor John Francis Hylan, who resided in a charming stucco Mediterranean Revival home at 2 Olive Place and Continental Avenue in Forest Hills Gardens.
In May 1932, The New Yorker reported that two white light globes were installed in front to symbolize his mayoral terms.
Hylan was raised on a 60-acre farm in Greene County in the Catskill. With $3.50 in his pocket, he made his way by stage coach and boat to New York City. In 1918, he would become the city’s 96th mayor, serving until 1925.
In 1921, his re-election bid was a success after defeating a mass transit fare increase and founding a commission to reconfigure the transportation system. He played an integral role in the creation of a subway owned and operated by the public, the Independent Subway System, which began operations on March 14, 1925.
A complete city-operated subway would come to fruition 15 years later, when the ISS/IND merged with the IRT and BMT.
Before becoming mayor, a young Hylan was employed with the Brooklyn Union Elevated Railroad, which was renamed the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company and operated streetcar trains in Brooklyn and Queens.
It joined forces with the Interborough Rapid Transit System to launch a dual contract system of unregulated and privately controlled transportation. Hylan’s eventually became a lawyer who fought Tammany Hall’s advances, but eventually became their loyal candidate.
Incidentally, the earliest known sound recording of a New York City mayor features Hylan’s 1921 speech accepting the nomination for mayor.
During his tenure, Hylan focused on the need for home rule, opposing the governor’s appointed transit commission, which he emphasized holds the power to “nullify subway contracts and take away the five-cent fare.” He advocated for taking away subway leases from private companies.
In 1920, the 19th amendment granted citizens the right to vote regardless of gender. In Hylan’s acceptance speech, he stated, “In the conduct of municipal affairs, the women of this city have been a most potent factor. This administration acknowledges the splendid and efficient service which they have rendered.”
If one looks closely for signs of Mayor John F. Hylan in Forest Hills, his name is inscribed on a plaque from 1923 at the landmarked Engine 305/H & L. Co. 151.
Hylan was active in local community life. He was a judge at the Forest Hills lady popularity contest in 1930 at the Forest Hills Theatre, which featured Agnes Geraghty of Olympic swimming fame and musical comedy star Dorothy Stone.
In the early 1930s, he served as Justice of the Queens Children’s Court.
At the time of his passing, the Associated Press reported, “Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia ordered flags on all public buildings lowered to half-staff and instructed Police Commissioner Valentine to mobilize a uniformed escort for the funeral.”
His final resting place is in St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village.
In 1922, “Mayor Hylan of New York: An Autobiography” was published.
“In order to succeed, one cannot be selfish,” he wrote. “If you make rosy the path for another, your own path, beyond any doubt, will be bright. The lesson involved in this message applies equally to rich and poor, to the city lad as well as to the farmer’s son.”

Statue vandalized at St. Michael’s in Flushing

At approximately 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday morning, a man vandalized a statue of St. Bernadette outside St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church at 136-76 41st Avenue in Flushing. The attack is the latest in a string of incidents at churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The statue of St. Bernadette was dedicated earlier this summer as a memorial to parishioners who died from coronavirus. St. Bernadette is the patron saint of the poor, those ridiculed for their faith, and the sick.
Wednesday’s perpetrator jumped over the church fence and knocked the statue over, damaging portions near the left forearm and wrist.
While St. Michael’s is already planning to repair the statue, parish leaders are hoping to use the incident as an opportunity to strengthen the community.
“St. Michael’s plays a central role in the faith and care of our neighbors through our masses and faith-based services that feed the hungry,” said Father Vincentius Do, pastor of St. Michael’s Church. “For sure this act of vandalism is upsetting, but the faithful of St. Michael’s and I are praying for the person who committed this act against our church.
“It is important to find the good in all things, and so I wish to take this opportunity to encourage the public to respect our church and our property, as well as that of all houses of worship,” he added.
Authorities from the 109th Precinct are currently investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).
The St. Bernadette is the latest in series of vandalism incidents at churches in Queens and Brooklyn.
In July, a person damaged two statues outside of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church at 70-01 Kissel Street in Forest Hills. The two statues had been in place since the church’s opening in 1937.
The vandal dragged the statues close to 200 feet across 70th Avenue before destroying them completely with a hammer.
In May, two separate incidents occurred at churches in Brooklyn. On May 14, a crucifix was toppled and damaged and an American flag lit on fire at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.
On May 17, a statue of Mary holding the Baby Jesus was found vandalized near the Diocese’s administrative office in Windsor Terrace.

Staff at Grand Care Pharmacy stays poised

Since joining the staff at Grand Care Pharmacy inside of Key Food at 66-56 Grand Avenue in Maspeth as a nurse, Meliz Jimenez says she is enjoying working with the people in the community where she lives at a time when she is most needed.
“I remember in February I had someone say to me, ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and all I did was give them the vaccine,” says Jimenez, a Maspeth resident. “It was really touching.”
Jimenez, a recent graduate of St. Paul’s School of Nursing on Queens Boulevard, joined the staff at the full-service pharmacy to help in the vaccination effort. Since then, she’s worked through the highs, lows and resurgences of COVID-19.
“Back in February we were doing like 70 to 100 vaccinations a day,” says Jimenez, who grew up in East Elmhurst. “Now we’re doing about 20 vaccinations a day, but we’re seeing an uptick in testing. We did about 70 tests yesterday.”
According to the COVID Data Tracker on the Centers for Disease Control website, more than 1.5 million people in Queens have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and just under 1.4 million people have been fully vaccinated. The number of fully vaccinated people in Queens represents 62 percent of the borough’s population.
As the Delta variant presents challenges for healthcare workers, Grand Care Pharmacy has made an effort to relay the most current and accurate information to the community.
“A lot of people are concerned about the spikes and there’s a lot of myths and controversial information out there,” Jimenez says. “People come here very misinformed, and we do our best to inform them the best that we can.”
The pharmacy has focused on helping those who want to be vaccinated by not requiring appointments for tests or vaccines, even making house calls to do so.
“We’ve been going out and administering vaccines to patients at their homes because its been hard for some to come out with the recent heat waves,” says Dr. Trevor Latchminarain, pharmacist and owner at Grand Care Pharmacy. “My staff and I have been on the frontlines serving our community from the beginning of the pandemic, caring for patients who tested positive, building awareness about vaccinations, and maintaining communication with our patients to ensure that they receive care”.

Catholic schools announce back-to-school protocols

The Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes 69 elementary schools throughout Brooklyn and Queens, has announced its COVID-19 safety protocols for the beginning of the school year. Students are set to return to classes on September 8.
Although there is no official mandate in place from the city, the state Department of Health has recommended that schools adopt universal indoor masking based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As such, Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens will require all students, faculty and staff to wear masks.
“As the numbers of coronavirus cases continue to spike in children, and the overall numbers of hospitalizations in New York City are on the rise, this is the most responsible approach to take when we begin the new school year,” said superintendent Thomas Chadzutko. “I know the return to these safety measures is not the situation parents, teachers or students were hoping to be the case in the 2021-2022 school year, but we cannot ignore the trends,”
“As this academic year moves along, we will revisit these guidelines and adjust them accordingly,” he added. “As much as we want a return to normalcy in our classrooms, we want our students, faculty, and staff to be safe.”
In addition to masks, Catholic schools will continue to heavily encourage vaccinations, social distancing, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing. Parents of students will also be instructed to keep their children home if they are sick to prevent any potential outbreaks.
The schools will also continue to follow city and state guidelines regarding contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols.
“I have received my vaccination and continue to encourage others to do so as well,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. “It is our hope that the COVID-19 vaccines will help bring an end to this terrible virus that has controlled our lives for much of the past year and a half.”
Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens opened on time last school year and offered in-person instruction five days a week.
Currently, New York City public schools are also planning on a return to full, in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

Cuomo won’t go gentle into that good night

Governor Andrew Cuomo exited the Governor’s Office in disgrace, but watching his pre-taped farewell speech on Monday you would think he was departing as a beloved leader.
Why Cuomo felt the need to give a farewell speech in the first place is one of – but not the only – curious thing about his final address to the people of New York State. We heard more than enough from him when he announced his resignation, proving that the only pity he feels about the sexual harassment allegations and coverup of COVID nursing home deaths is for himself.
And right on brand, he began his 15-minute farewell with another claim of innocence regarding the sexual harassment claims. To believe Cuomo’s version of events, 11 women lied about his actions, the others who testified in the exhaustive report by Attorney General Letitia James also lied, and James was politically motivated to take Cuomo down so she massaged the facts.
“The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic,” Cuomo said. “And it worked.”
Apparently Cuomo is the only person telling the truth here. “Facts still matter,” he said, but only Cuomo’s facts.
And Cuomo would have you believe that he is resigning not because he is guilty of anything, but because he loves you and he loves New York and it’s the right thing to do.
“You know me, I am a fighter,” he said. “And my instinct is to fight this.”
In addition to restating his innocence, the speech was clearly a vehicle for Cuomo to highlight what he feels he accomplished while in office – lest we’ve all forgotten what a great governor he was and how much we’re going to miss him when he’s gone – as well as weigh in on several issues, as if his opinion on them carries any weight.
For example, we’re not sure why Cuomo decided to let us know that he is opposed to defunding the police as he is walking out the door, or why he is giving advice for the people who will serve in office after him. In fact, maybe he could take his own advice to them.
“It’s not what we say in life that matters, it’s what we do,” he said. “And the same is true for our elected officials and our government.”
And despite the controversy surrounding nursing home deaths and the fact that his publisher stopped printing his book about the state’s response to COVID because of a federal criminal investigation, he offered his opinion on dealing with coronavirus going forward.
Kathy Hochul became the first female governor when she was sworn in at midnight on Tuesday, and now the state can begin to move forward. We’re not sure what the future holds for Cuomo. A former aide was quoted on Twitter saying he has no interest in ever running for office again, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
It’s obvious from his speech that Cuomo will not be able to stay in the background for very long. He’s clearly angry and embarrassed, and those who know him attest that he doesn’t let a grudge go easily.
Just ask Mayo Bill de Blasio. Which brings us to what we think was the real point of the farewell speech: the opportunity to take one last shot at the mayor of New York City.
“Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City,” Cuomo said toward the end of his speech. “I think he will bring a new philosophy and competence to the position which can give New York City residents hope for the future.”
Mic drop!

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