Q44 SBS Lane Enforcement to begin Dec. 2

Fines beginning at $50 for drivers who block bus lane

By Alicia Venter

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The Q44 SBS Route. Photo: MTA

The Q44 SBS Bus Lane Enforcement Warning Period ends on Dec. 2. Drivers who violate the bus lane regulations — any instance of violating the bus lane — will be issued summonses, with fines beginning at $50. Repeat offenders will face up to $250 in fines.

The DOT has issued warnings to drivers blocking the bus lane since Oct. 3, a period meant to serve as an opportunity to inform drivers of the regulations. Since the warning period began, 3,325 warnings have been issued.

“Bus lanes are for buses, period. Automated camera enforcement is a critical tool in keeping our bus lanes clear, providing faster and more reliable commutes for New Yorkers,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “As the agency that created, revitalized and made permanent the Main Street Busway in support of bus riders on the Q44 SBS and other routes in Downtown Flushing, DOT is thrilled to support the MTA’s continued expansion of bus-mounted cameras as part of our close collaboration to improve bus service across the city.”

The Q44 SBS runs from the Bronx to Jamaica, cutting through College Point, Flushing and Forest Hills. According to the MTA, it is one of the busiest routes in the MTA bus network.

The bus lane regulations will be enforced through ABLE cameras. According to the MTA, the technology will be expanded to all the boroughs and cover approximately 50% of bus lane miles across the city.

The MTA and DOT plan to expand camera enforcement to cover up to 85% of existing bus lanes by the end of 2023.

“As more and more bus lanes and busways are camera-enforced, we hope that drivers begin to change their way of thinking and avoid blocking a bus lane,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “New Yorkers need drivers to comply with bus lane rules regardless of whether they are camera enforced, so err on the side of caution and avoid a ticket.”

Each bus lane corridor will have signage indicating the hours that the bus lanes are operable, and they will warn motorists that the lanes are camera-enforced.

West Hamilton Beach Home Illuminates for Holiday Season

By Alicia Venter

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This holiday season, a home along the waterfront in West Hamilton Beach holds “a million and a half lights of illusions.” 

Visitors will be welcome to the sight of hand-painted decorations of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, the Tasmanian Devil, the Grinch, Sindy Lou Hou — and more.

The owner of the house at 102-24 Rau Court, Michael Giglio, asks only one thing from any ongoer who visits his illuminated home:

“Get the hell out of your car,” he said.

Giglio sits outside his home every night to put his lights on for the community. He wants the people to come and talk to him, share their stories and participate in the experience. He offers candy to all children who visit him, and he wants to give out more.
He is always there — weather permitting.

 “If it is raining, Mr. Giglio will not be turning on the lights,” he emphasized. 

Monday through Thursday, lights are on from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday, lights begin at 6:00 p.m., and remain on for an undetermined amount of time. Giglio will keep them on until 2:00 a.m., he shared, if there are people enjoying the lights.

Since he was 21, Michael Giglio has been decorating his homes in New York with as many decorations as he could create and as many lights as he could muster across his lawn. He started in a rental home in Richmond Hill on 104th Street, and since retiring from the Department of Environmental Protection, he has been able to put more energy into his decorations.

In what he describes as “a Christmas decoration of art,” Giglio has been putting on his light show for over 30 years in love for his community.

The newest addition to the home is a Christmas shop, where visitors can purchase a variety of items including reindeer ears, 

Giglio has a donation box in front of the house, of which 70 percent of the proceeds will go to an undetermined charity. 

On Dec. 10, from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m, Giglio is holding the “Great Cupcake Giveaway,” where one kid will get a chocolate chip cupcake with sprinkles and a bag of candy.

On Dec. 17, the “big fat man himself,” Santa Claus will be giving away free candy to visitors and interacting with the visitors.

Once, the two daughters of Giglio asked him why he put such effort into decorating his home, to which he replied with a deep laugh: “Because once Santa Claus flies over our house, he’s not going to miss it.” 

Giglio, who describes himself as “Vintage Mike” because of his connection to his oldest self-made decorations, continues every year with his decorations for both his community and for a personal reason.
“I still haven’t met my destiny,” he shared.

GigThis destiny is to be featured on the Great Christmas Light Fight, a television show that displays the best Christmas displays created by families across the United States. A $50,000 reward is offered to the best home that year — a reward Giglio wants.

Giglio lives by the water, but refuses to let the fear of flooding prevent him from his passion of decorating for the holiday season. Instead, he gets creative — each of his decorations sit at least a foot above the ground to prevent damage. 

Giglio “asks out of his heart” for people to tell friends, family and neighbors to travel to Beach 1, tucked away near JFK Airport, to visit his winter wonderland light show.

Gaton Foundation gives back to families in need

Give & Go Delivery Project supplies food, necessities

 

By Jessica Meditz

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Following her own personal humanitarian mission, Angela Gaton-Wiltshire dedicates much of her life to assisting those in need any way she can.

After a massive fire tore through various homes on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill during 2020, Gaton-Wiltshire, 61, promptly started The Gaton Foundation and the Give & Go Delivery Project with her daughter, Kristen Wiltshire.

An employee of Richmond Hill High School for over 25 years, Gaton-Wiltshire works directly with students as a bilingual teacher of speech and hearing, special educator, general educator, deaf educator and developmental education evaluator.

Hosted with the support of Richmond Hill High School, the Give & Go Delivery Project strives to provide hand-delivered groceries and other essentials to students and their families in need in a stigma-free environment.

Flyers are posted throughout the school with a QR code that leads to the sign-up sheet for the service, so students can privately send their information.

After the fire, she knew that many of the students and their families would be impacted, and felt that she had to step in to help.

“I know the other side of what can happen when children are displaced. Part of the problem is going to be getting food…because if you’ve been displaced to a family member or relative, but you’re an extra mouth to feed, it becomes a challenge,” Gaton-Wiltshire said.

“To lessen the burden…I said, ‘Let’s deliver groceries,’” she continued. “It’s been a labor of love completely, because I have to buy everything and there’s so many resources, donations, everything.”

Gaton-Wiltshire said that the entire first floor of her St. Albans home has been designated for The Gaton Foundation and its operations.

She added that she and her daughter try their best to sort all the goods appropriately, sanitize everything and pack all the groceries appropriately in bags, as presentation is of utmost importance to her.

“The presentation is good so they know that we want to give this to them, and we would give it to them in the same way we would want to receive it,” Gaton-Wiltshire said.

Being Caribbean-American, the women behind The Gaton Foundation strive to be culturally aware, as they can relate with immigrants and children of immigrants.

The groceries provided by The Gaton Foundation take into account Halal, Kosher and other dietary restrictions, and the sign-up form is available in multiple languages.

“We are thrilled and proud that the work of the foundation and its projects, Give & Go Grocery specifically, is being recognized in this way. For nearly three years, this project has been organized to serve students, and their families across Queens, with our sight fixed devotedly on the impact we can have beyond the borough,” Wiltshire said.

“I’m genuinely in awe of what my mother began, and I’m entirely honored to represent my family foundation.”

Utilizing the skills gained from her culinary arts and nutrition education, Wiltshire also makes herself available to the families if they are unsure how to prepare or make a dish out of a certain item or ingredient.

Deliveries for the Give & Go Delivery Project go out on the first Friday of every month, to every applicant’s door — rain or shine. Gaton-Wiltshire said since its inception in 2020, they have not missed a month.

Members of The Gaton Foundation along with its volunteers from Richmond Hill High School and beyond execute these deliveries in the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Whitestone, Jamaica, Ozone Park, Glendale and communities in Brooklyn where students have been displaced.

“It’s completely anonymous. We call and tell them the ETA, we get there, put the delivery on their doorstep and move onto the next person,” she said. “It’s to eliminate the stigma and embarrassment.”

At the time of publication, nearly 140 families have requested grocery delivery services from The Gaton Foundation.

“People won’t accept the help knowing full well that they need it, because they don’t want anybody to know,” Gaton-Wiltshire said. “Especially because this is an adolescent population, there’s nothing worse than kids being bullied.”

Gaton-Wiltshire attributes much of her humanitarian spirit and awareness to her father, who passed his values down to her.

She shared that her father marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement and studied psychology and social work for his PhD — however, he knows how it feels to grow up poor and need help.

“I always remember him telling me the story about when he was going to school, when he had to walk miles and the soles of his shoes were separated and he had to use rubber bands to keep them together. But because his parents were poor, they couldn’t afford new shoes,” she said. “I can understand that because it’s my dad’s experience, so it’s not generations away.”

The Gaton Foundation seeks to expand beyond Queens in the future, and is always accepting donations and additional volunteers.

To donate or get involved with The Gaton Foundation, visit their website thegatonfoundation.org to contact them as well as their Instagram, @thegatonfoundation.

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