NYCFC Willets Point Stadium to Revolutionize Soccer in NYC, says C.O.O.

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]


Jennifer O’Sullivan grew up in an extensively athletic home, spearheaded by her sports-loving father, and played three sports in her home of Clinton, New Jersey.

Soccer was not one of those sports.

However, O’Sullivan now finds herself sitting in a position that can change Major League Soccer (MLS) at its core — to her, there is no better place to do it than Queens.

“The diversity of Queens as a borough cannot be denied,” O’Sullivan, 48, said over a phone interview. “It’s a true example of how the global game of soccer can really be used as a catalyst to bring people together culturally within the community, but also an economic boom for the borough and the city.”

As the C.O.O/Chief Legal & Administrative Officer at New York City Football Club (NYCFC), O’Sullivan has prioritized helping her club find a permanent place in Queens. The Willets Point Stadium, announced by Mayor Adams on Nov. 16, is a privately financed facility set to offer 2,500 affordable homes, a 25,000 seat stadium and a 250-room hotel. It’s expected to be completed in 2024.

Jen O’Sullivan. Photo: Matthew McDermott

O’Sullivan joined NYCFC in April 2020. Her role broadly encompasses running the operational and administrative areas of the business — human resources, IT infrastructure and facilities, navigating some of the contractual relationships with partners and working closely with NYCFC II, the reserve team and minor league affiliate of NYCFC.

Currently, NYCFC has no permanent place to call home. The team has been bouncing around from venue to venue — including Yankees Stadium — for their matches, but with a permanent stadium for their matches, they will be able to focus on the fan experience, and developing the talent of their organization, which is coming off the heels of a championship.

“I think in New York, you have this melting pot of people, many of whom came from nationalities and other areas of the world where the global game of soccer is just a way of life,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re really trying to identify people who have this strong love and passion for the game and say, ‘It’s okay for you to have your Mexican home team that you follow, but we can be your time here in New York,’”

MLS is a relatively young league in the United States, founded in 1993. NYCFC joined the league eight years ago, and in O’Sullivan’s three years with the organization, she has seen the program grow throughout the five boroughs, with a youth program or organization in approximately 70% of the city. In her time within the industry, she has seen soccer grow in New York City exponentially — instead of wearing NBA jerseys exclusively, her children and her friends are seen boasting soccer jerseys.

The United States hosting the 2024 World Cups, along with the men’s and women’s teams performing well in their performances in the past world cup, will likely add to this excitement around the sport. She hopes that this, plus the hard work of NYCFC to be involved in the community and be a presence beyond on the field, will help turn the occasional fan to an avid one.This involvement includes adding programs to schools and distributing food.

O’Sullivan hopes that the next step for NYCFC will be to add a women’s team and a women’s academy to complement their male teams, as “we see real opportunity in the women’s game as well.”

Despite being so young, she doesn’t want NYCFC to settle in their victory with the stadium — as C.O.O, she expects to continue growing the organization as forward as she can.

“We’re really doing everything we can do to ensure that this stadium journey and the stadium process is successful. Not just for us, but for part of the larger development of Willets Point and the borough of Queens, and growing out what those community initiatives look like,” she said. “If we can be a real catalyst for growth and change on the women’s side of the game, we would welcome that opportunity as well.”

How Did We Get Here?

Saturday’s Smokeshop Murder Leaves Community in Shock

By Ed Wendell

It was the early 1980s when VCRs – video cassette recorders – became affordable and suddenly everyone had one.

Now you didn’t have to miss your favorite television programs, you could record them. At the same time it created a demand for renting movies to watch at home and as a result video stores began popping up all over.

The Video Connection. Captain Video. Video Maniacs. They were everywhere. It was a fun and exciting time and no one was hurt. For sure, no one was ever killed over a VHS tape.

Four decades later a new market has emerged with stores popping up all over the place. Smoke Palace. Kush Kings. Leaf Connection. As a result, because of the way New York mishandled it, a market for violent crime and mayhem was created.

This past Saturday afternoon, while most of us were out enjoying the day, a young man was shot and killed during a robbery of a smoke shop on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill. He was just 20 years old, his entire life ahead of him, ended violently because of the gross stupidity of New York.

How did we get here?

After many years of debate, New York made it legal to possess and smoke and grow marijuana in your home. But they dragged their heels on rolling out licenses and as a result today there are only 3 places in New York where you can purchase pot legally, all within a few blocks of each other in Manhattan.

As a result, entrepreneurs across the city began opening up shops to capture a share of the market and the city made the decision to leave them be. As a result we have shops all over selling pot openly and illegally. And because they’re selling it illegally, it needs to remain a cash business.

To recap, because it’s really hard to believe how stupid New York handled this, they took an underground business that was connected to the criminal world; they dropped businesses flush with cash and drugs in our laps; and they told the police to stand down.

What did they expect would happen? Of course all of these stores would become rich targets for robbery. Thugs know these stores have drugs and cash and if they get robbed they can’t really go to the police. These robberies are becoming more frequent and brazen and violent and what happened Saturday is the result of stupid arrogant thinking on the part of New York State.

Last year, we took a wee trip to visit a friend in Massachusetts. As soon as we crossed the state line we saw a half-dozen shops open for business, but the difference was that they were all licensed and all operating legally.

We stopped into one of them on the way home and it was as safe an environment as you could ask for. Upon entering the store we were in a lobby where a receptionist asked to see some ID. We gave her our drivers licenses and they scanned them in.

We were buzzed through a door and entered a long hallway where we were buzzed in through another door. Once inside, we were greeted by name by a young man with an iPad who walked us around and answered any questions we had.

You would tell him what you wanted and he would enter it on the iPad and when you were done, you went to the counter and paid for it by credit card and walked out with a nice bag. It was all very well organized and very, very safe.

Compared to Massachusetts, our state is the wild, wild, west. We have created a rich environment for crime and violence and over time, the toll on our communities will surely mount.

This was so badly handled that I don’t think that any of us expect that New York will work out a solution to this massive problem that they’ve created any time soon.
There’s really only one explanation for why the State of New York decided to roll out this law this way – they must have been high. And being high and stupid is a deadly combination.

Woodhaven Celebrates A 60-Year Love Story

By Ed Wendell

March 1963. John F. Kennedy was President. A first class postage stamp was 5 cents. The #1 song was “Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys, the top grossing movie was “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” and Pam and Walter got married.

This past Sunday, Pam and Walter Steffens were joined by friends to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary – that’s a 60 year long love story that’s still going strong.

Pamela Washburn and Walter Steffens knew each other long before they went on their first date.

“We lived right around the corner from each other. We knew each other since we were kids, but Walter was 4 years older than me,” Pam told me.

It was when Walter came home from serving in our military, when Pam was 18, that Walter really took notice. When I asked Walter what attracted him to Pam, he didn’t hesitate.

“Her legs,” he says. “Every time she would walk up the block, oh boy!”

Walter fell in love with Pam’s legs and then the rest of her and in April 1962 the following notice appeared in the Leader-Observer:

“Pamela Washburn, daughter of Mr. Ruth Washburn of 7804 86th Avenue was engaged on April 6th to Walter Steffens of 8615 78th Street. The date was also marked by the celebration of Miss Washburn’s birthday.”

And in March of the following year, they tied the knot and the rest is history. A son, Scott, followed but not until 21 years after they were married.

“We wanted to make sure the marriage would last,” Pam says, laughing. “God has his own timetable.”

Since then, the family has expanded to include Scott’s partner Dexie and two grandchildren, Deniel and Emily.

“We are very blessed,” Pam says.

As for their secret to 60 years of happiness Pam said “patience” and Walter said “compromise,” two virtues that not only benefit marriages, but friendships as well.

In fact, life overall would be better for everyone if we could just all be a bit more like Pam and Walter and keep those two words in mind when dealing with each other, even strangers.

Patience and compromise. You can build a lot of very special relationships with those two alone. And those words describe our friends Pam and Walter perfectly.

This past Sunday, Pam and Walter were joined by friends for a celebration of their marriage at Emanuel United Church of Christ on Woodhaven Boulevard and 91st Avenue .Pastor Charles LoCasto brought Pam and Walter up to the altar and renewed their wedding vows, it was a lovely moment.

Afterwards, everyone gathered for coffee and cake and lots of celebrating. They were joined by Walter’s sister Doris and her husband Paul who were on the eve of their own wedding anniversary, 52 happy years for them. It was a great celebration and I had 2 pieces of cake.

These are the good times; this is what living in a community is all about.

It’s about people caring for each other. It’s about taking the time to pick up the phone to check in on someone you know might be lonely. It’s about sending someone a card on their birthday.

And it’s about showing someone you care through a kind word or thoughtful gesture. It’s about showing patience and being open to compromise.

We wish Pam and Walter the happiest of anniversaries and look forward to celebrating many more with them; they are without a doubt the nicest couple in Woodhaven.

Emergency SNAP Allocations End, concerning Queens Advocates

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]


For the past two years, families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been provided the maximum amount of monthly benefits that is available for their family size. These emergency SNAP allocations, designed to help families during the pandemic, expired on March 1, greatly impacting those who rely on these services in Queens.

In 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Queens recorded a 48% increase in food insecurity, the highest increase among the five boroughs according to Jerome Nathaniel, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of City Harvest, one of New York City’s largest food rescue organizations. As for children, it increased by 60%

In response to the allocations ending, City Harvest is anticipating delivering roughly 75 million pounds of food free of charge to their network.

For the past 40 years, we have never shied away from stepping up where there’s these sorts of emergencies, even if there’s low unemployment, high unemployment, man made disasters or natural disasters, City Harvest continues to work with our network to do our best to make sure that our pantries are stocked with the food they need to serve folks,” said Nathaniel.

During the pandemic, food insecurity rates drastically increased, as 14.3% of the Queens population faced food insecurity in 2021 compared to 9.7 in 2019.

Queens was disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic — by job loss, by different low-income communities, low wage workers, immigrant communities, especially in Queens who may have not been eligible for a lot of these sort of government programs but were hit hard by economic impact by the pandemic,” Nathaniel said. “So it certainly had a disparate impact on Queens.”

Nathaniel described how the minimum benefit allowed for some households was $16 per month, and the Emergency SNAP allocations raised that to $281.

Just imagine over three years benefiting from that, not as some sort of privilege but really as just a survival tool, and then suddenly it’s all pulled from underneath,” he said.

In December, it was made clear to SNAP recipients that the additional funding was set to end — a three month turnaround that Nathaniel shared was “simply not enough time.”

In a report from the New York City Comptroller on March 1, 2.9 million New York households were enrolled in the SNAP as of December 2022, and that approximately one in 10 New York Households experience food insecurity.

He reported that with the loss of maximum benefits, as well as the increased benefits provided by SNAP for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) ending in October 2023, food insecurity could grow further. His office, among other suggestions, recommended that the federal government should extend temporary benefits related to SNAP and WIC until the increased cost of food due to inflation subsides. Many food organizations stand in agreement.

To help make up for the loss of benefits, there should be a coordinated response that involves community organizations working with city and state legislative leaders and other key officeholders who should use their budgets to protect New Yorkers from cuts in SNAP benefits by increasing investment in programs that provide crucial food support,” United Way of New York City said in a statement. ‘On the federal level, Congress should act to increase SNAP supports and sufficiency through key changes to the Farm Bill. Acting together, we can help make sure fewer New Yorkers go hungry.”

He also recommended that eligibility levels for SNAP and WIC should be increased to at least 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and that the Federal Child Tax Credit be expanded.

Food pantries and food banks are reportedly drawing larger crowds across the city, as reported by the New York Daily News on Feb. 28. They reported that advocates warn the end of the emergency funds will have a devastating impact in the city.

To wake up on March 1, and knowing that you’re going to lose anywhere from $95 to $200 in grocery benefits, at a time when food is at an all time high inflation rate, is really devastating. Just to really drive home the point of how these past three years really showed us that SNAP needs to be more,” said Nathaniel.

Remembering Father Cyclone

By Ed Wendell


He was a tough Irish kid from Elderts Lane, one of 12 children born to a tough New York City fireman and his wife who emigrated from County Cavan in Ireland.

He was an altar boy at the Catholic Church of Saint Sylvester in Brooklyn, around the corner from his house. His name was Father Lawrence Edward Lynch and he was a hero.

When he was assigned to the 69th Infantry Regiment, he stepped into some mighty big shoes worn by the famous Father Duffy, who was immortalized on film by Pat O’Brien in “The Fighting 69th” starring James Cagney.

According to those who knew him well and had the chance to work alongside him, he filled those shoes admirably.

Brigadier General Julius Klein was his commanding officer in the Pacific during World War II and recalled Father Lynch’s zest for justice when he stormed into his office fighting for a Jewish soldier who he felt had been unfairly passed over for promotion.

“It never mattered to him whether a soul was white or black, Jew or Christian, or unbeliever,” General Klein said of his friend. “To him, each human being was simply a child of God.”

They were at each other’s side on a rescue ship when rushing to the SS Elihu Thompson, a Liberty ship that had struck a mine on September 25, 1944. Eleven young men were killed and 22 were missing. They were never found.

While Klein was directing the rescue, Father Lynch tended to the mortally wounded, offering comfort and holding their hands so the young men did not have to die alone.

“Ego te absolve,” the “absolution of sin,” he whispered quietly in the ears of young men who would never see their friends or families again.
One of the young dying sailors was Jewish and asked for a rabbi. None were available, so Father Lynch held his hand and whispered “Sh’mai, Israel, Adonai, Eloheno Adonai echad.”

The young soldier died just as Father Lynch finished the prayer. Klein was overcome with emotion and never forgot the incident, often referring to the priest as his favorite Irish rabbi.

Regardless of who you were or what you believed, Father Lynch would be at your side when you needed him most. He was a priest first but a soldier second, and like so many young men of that era he was unafraid of the hazards of war, receiving five citations for bravery.

And it was this bravery that led father Lynch and so many other young soldiers to the island of Okinawa, a strategic piece in the impending land invasion of Japan.

The battle on Okinawa raged for weeks, and Father Lynch repeatedly sought out the battalions and regiments that were expected to see the heaviest action.

It was grueling and dangerous, but Father Lynch kept pace with the action, comforting the wounded and giving last rites to hundreds and hundreds of the 20,000 American soldiers that would eventually lose their lives in that battle by the time it ended.

On April 25, 1945, the Japanese were shelling the battalion that Father Lynch was traveling with and a soldier nearby screamed as he was hit. The tough Irish priest from Elderts Lane ran to the young soldier’s side and began offering the last rites when a second shell struck, killing both of them instantly.
Father Lawrence Edward Lynch was 38 years old.

At the end of June, after victory had been secured, over 4,000 servicemen attended a mass at his graveside in Okinawa. Back home, a steady stream of servicemen visited his parents to pay their respects long after the war had ended.

A local youth football league was started and named in his honor, taking part of his name along with honoring the other veterans of war: Lynvets.
And a piece of land near the border of Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Brooklyn was set aside as a memorial. A triangle at Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard was dedicated in his honor following a large parade on October 8, 1949.

But over time, the sign disappeared and people forgot about Father Lawrence Edward Lynch. On March 9th 2019, the triangle was rededicated in his name. Members of the Lynch family along with community leaders from Woodhaven and Ozone Park gathered at the memorial to the local Irish boy turned hero priest they nicknamed Father Cyclone.

‘Eat Good, Live Better:’ Supreme Empanadas Opens in Jamaica

By Pamela Rider

[email protected]


Supreme Empanadas is a new local restaurant in Jamaica (137-32 Rockaway Blvd) that has an array of cultural dishes. Opened in October 2022, it is owned by Tajsaun Douglas, a 33-year-old up and coming entrepreneur who has lived in the area since birth. He was raised by his mother, father, and grandmother, and has had his fair share of life’s ups and downs during his journey towards manhood.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business since I can remember. I just wasn’t sure what type of business that I wanted to pursue,” said Douglas.

Both of Douglas’ parents worked outside of the home, so most of his time was spent with his “Nanna.

“She was always in the kitchen baking and cooking while she helped me with my homework,” he said. “Years went by and I became her best student of cooking creations, not to mention that I’m a foodie.”

Many local residents feel that Supreme Empanadas has an inviting ambiance which is quite inviting and magnetic to food lovers. Lamb empanadas are their specialty, and have attracted the attention of many.

Frequent customer Michelle Roberts said, “I just love their food. The lamb empanadas are my favorite. In this area, you can hardly find lamb in the supermarkets. I wish them all the best success!”

“Eat good, Live Better, is all about what we take in,” said Douglas.

He added, “The environment is all a part of living better. No SE2one wants to feel slighted or uncomfortable when they visit any establishment. I do my best to cultivate my best and share it with others.”

“Soul food,” and “Chinese food” has monopolized most urban communities giving little to the imagination and to the palate of inner city residents. It serves its purpose, and has been prosperous for many years, and more than likely for many years to come.

Unlike many restaurants in the immediate area, this particular Supreme Empanadas in Jamaica advertises a daily special dish that is posted on their Instagram (@supremeempanadas). His menu has many diverse dishes that welcomes all to explore.

The reviews are outstanding from patrons that have posted their opinions on TikTok and other major platforms expressing their appreciation for the establishments cuisine. So many hashtags from so many customers. There are a handful of dissatisfied customers, but for the most part according to the reviews, Supreme Empanadas has been a smashing success.

These are just a few of the reviews and the daily specials that are shown on their Instagram.

Jacob Waters said, “I try to go there at least three times a week. The food is excellent and worth every penny!” Every time that I go, it seems like they have created a new dish,” added Waters.

“I’m just glad that I am doing well and pleasing my customers. As we all know, the customer is always right!, said Douglas. “I’m really thrilled with the outcome.”

This small restaurant affords the community with dishes that are usually out of their immediate reach, not to mention provides the comfortable atmosphere of love. The expression of love is not only expressed with the pleasure of the food and the desire for customers to climb on board the Supreme Empanada boat, but the love that is put into the meals that keep the customers happy and coming back for more.

“So far so good. Life is definitely looking up,” Douglas said.

Uncle Max To Get His Due

By Ed Wendell

Woodhaven’s Dexter Park, which was home to the semi pro Bushwicks as well as the Brooklyn Royal Giants, one of the top teams in the Negro Leagues. Dexter Park also hosted Boxing, Soccer, Football, Polo (with horses) and in later years, Stock Car racing and was the home to Baseball’s first night games.

​​In 1892, a young man named Max Rosner immigrated to the United States from Hungary. He eventually settled down in Woodhaven, opening a Cigar Store on Jamaica Avenue near Forest Parkway that would operate very profitably for many years. He also became a resident of Woodhaven when he bought a home on 76th Street.

If that was all that Max Rosner ever did, it would be an American success story. But Rosner was no ordinary man, and his success story was far from ordinary.

As a newcomer to this country, Rosner became enamored with baseball, which was a relatively new sport at the time. He watched the local teams and eventually tried out and played shortstop for a semi-pro team.

In time, Max Rosner took over as manager of the Bushwicks, a Brooklyn-based team that played frequently at Dexter Park in Woodhaven, Queens.

In October of 1922 Max Rosner and partner Nat Strong purchased Dexter Park and the Bushwicks from the Ulmer Brewery for $200,000. Ulmer Brewery had been forced to cease operations due to prohibition.

Dexter Park became the home field for the Bushwicks and for the Brooklyn Royal Giants, one of the top teams in the Negro Leagues.

They began immediately to improve the ballpark, building a new concrete grandstand which increased the capacity to 13,000 (six thousand individual seats and bleachers which accommodated seven thousand people).

The playing field itself was one of the largest in the United States. The distance from home plate to the centerfield fence was a whopping 450 feet and only the legendary Hall of Famer Josh Gibson was able to hit one over it.

Legendary Yankees Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig flank Max Rosner and his grandson here in Woodhaven, at Dexter Park. Many Hall of Famers played baseball here in Woodhaven during the off-season.

The newly remodeled stadium opened nearly 100 years ago, on April 15, 1923.

Over the years, Rosner was also well known in Woodhaven for his charitable contributions. Numerous times, Rosner donated the use of Dexter Park for benefit games to raise funds for charities, including a series of games which helped construct a new building for Jamaica Hospital.

Rosner was famous for being the first one at the ballpark every morning, often to the chagrin of his groundskeepers. He was such a beloved figure to the residents of Woodhaven that he soon became known, even in the press, as Uncle Max.

Under his ownership, Dexter Park was a prime source of entertainment for residents in Woodhaven and the neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that surrounded it. Dexter Park wasn’t just a home for baseball; Dexter Park also hosted Boxing, Soccer, Football, Polo (with horses) and in later years, Stock Car racing.

Every year, once the Major League Baseball season was over, legendary ballplayers such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Dizzy Dean would come to Woodhaven to play ball.

And over the years, legendary players from the Negro Leagues like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige played right here in Woodhaven, years before the color barrier would be broken in Major League Baseball by Jackie Robinson.

Dexter Park was also famous for the introduction of night games, a full eight years before it was adopted in the Major Leagues.

Although it was initially seen as a fad or a novelty, night baseball proved to be so popular with fans that in years to come, day games became far less frequent. Today, the majority of baseball games are played at night.

The lights at Dexter Park were designed by Herman Rosner, Max’s son, an electrician. When you consider the difficulty of fully lighting a field, while lighting the sky for fly balls while not blinding the fans or the players – this was a tremendous achievement.

Major League baseball on television hurt many semi pro teams, the Bushwicks included. Rosner shifted gears and converted Dexter Park for Stock Car Racing. Eventually, the crowds dwindled and after Rosner passed away, the park was sold and demolished, and new homes were built on the land.

This year, the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society requested that Dexter Court and 86th Road, where the box office of the old stadium used to sit, be renamed in Max Rosner’s honor. The proposal had the support of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, the Woodhaven Business Improvement District and Community Board 9.

Councilman Robert Holden enthusiastically sponsored the proposal and last week it passed unanimously in the City Council.

The attention that the street naming will generate will help highlight Woodhaven’s role in baseball history.

From playing host to many of the greatest players in Major League Baseball, to playing host to the greatest players in the Negro Leagues, to being the birthplace of the great innovation of Night Baseball – there is a lot for residents of Brooklyn and Queens, and Woodhaven in particular, to be proud of.

The Great Woodhaven Yard Sale Celebrates 10th Anniversary

By Ed Wendell

[email protected]


WRBA President Martin Colberg made the rounds thanking all of the participants in last year’s Great Woodhaven Yard Sale, a community-wide yard sale that will take place this weekend on Saturday June 10th and Sunday June 11th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, email [email protected] or call the WRBA at 718-296-3735 and leave your name and contact information.

The Great Woodhaven Yard Sale is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year and it looks like it will be the biggest one yet. Sponsored by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) since 2013, the Great Woodhaven Yard Sale (GWYS) is a coordinated effort to all have a community-wide yard sale on the same date.

So instead of you having your yard sale one weekend, your neighbors having theirs the next weekend, and the people across the street having theirs next month – the idea is to have all your yard sales on the same day. And since all your locations will be heavily advertised both inside and outside of Woodhaven, you will see a big increase in people visiting your sale

And for the first time, this year’s GWYS has been expanded to a 2-day event.

“There’s been a drumbeat the last few years of the event that setting up for just one day was kind of inefficient for participants,” says Vance Barbour, Director and Event Coordinator of the WRBA. And so, this year’s Great Woodhaven Yard Sale will take place on Saturday June 10th and Sunday June 11th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Barbour says that the WRBA is expanding their marketing of the GWYS to bring in more shoppers. “For the first event in 2013 we only had a tri-fold brochure that we handed out at WRBA Town Hall meetings and at the subway stations on Jamaica Avenue.”

“We now have social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, we place free and paid advertisements on places like Craig’s List New York and Facebook, and issue a press release to 32 local and regional news organizations. This year for the first time we will be listing the event on local and regional yard/garage sale websites,” he says.

To register for the 2023 Great Woodhaven Yard Sale email [email protected] or call the WRBA at 718-296-3735 and leave your name and contact information. And for the first time ever, the WRBA is opening up participation to homes outside the 11421 Zip Code.

“Over the years we have had a number of calls from residents of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park who wanted to participate in the event, but we had to turn them away due to logistics,” Barbour explained.

“Placing them on The Map might make The Map illegible for participants who counted on it to find participating households. For the last two events we began attaching a list of household addresses to the map, which frees us up to accept households from our neighboring communities. While we will not be actively soliciting neighboring community households, we will not be turning them away either.”

One of the keys to making your yard sale successful is to get your neighbors involved. When the maps are distributed, people will tend to look for clusters so that when they visit one block they’ll have several yard sales to visit.

Once you sign up, give the information to your neighbors and ask them to pass along to their neighbors that they know. Even a few houses at the end of the block, or even around the corner, will help drive extra traffic to your doorstep.

Yard sales are a summer tradition around Woodhaven and it’s nice that there’s always a few here and there almost every weekend. But the Great Woodhaven Yard Sale is a terrific event, typically attracting more than 100 households and hundreds and hundreds of shoppers, from all around Queens

One year, we ran into a guy who had his arms full of stuff he’d bought at yard sales in Woodhaven. He was heading home to Glendale to drop off what he’d bought and rushing back to hit the rest of the houses on the map.

Make sure you get your household on the map so it’s a bunch of your stuff in people’s arms, taking it away to their home while leaving cash in the palm of your hand.

Now you know why they call the Woodhaven Yard Sale Great!

One Big Family, the FDNY Proves That It Never Forgets.

By Ed Wendell

The family of Lt. James Griffin gather in front of the Ozone Park firehouse 100 years after the accident that took his life and the lives of 2 other firefighters, John Dunne and Michael Hanley.

Sometimes when you’re doing research you don’t know what you’re going to find or where it will lead. In late December, I spent a few nights going through all of the Leader-Observers from early 1923, looking for headlines to share with our members 100 years later.

One headline, about a terrible crash on February 6th, 1923, really shook me. A truck carrying three firemen from Ozone Park was struck by a Long Island Railroad express train at the intersection of Atlantic and Rockaway.

I had never heard of this tragic accident and soon temporarily abandoned the search into all things 1923 and began to focus solely on this incident and the lives of the 3 firemen, Lt. James Griffin, and Firemen John Dunne and Michael Hanley.

The details were so very sad and tragic. Just before 6 p.m. on February 6th 1923, during a heavy snowstorm, Truck 142 in Ozone Park received a call about a fire on Crescent Street.

They made their way out into the storm and when they got to the intersection of Rockaway and Atlantic, they had to wait as the LIRR workers held the local train and then raised the gate for them to pass. Then out of the snowstorm came an express train roaring from Jamaica towards Brooklyn.

The crash was horrific, dragging the wreckage hundreds of yards down Atlantic Avenue. People came running from their homes to help. Two of the firefighters, John Dunne and Michael Hanley, had been killed instantly. Lt. Griffin had hit an electrified line and though he initially survived and put up a good fight, he would pass the next day.

Together, they left 3 wives and 11 children.

And that was that. Or so I thought. I gave a Zoom presentation and shared the details of the accident. But it seemed such a shame that no one had heard about this and no one knew the names of these three heroes.

So we decided to do a special presentation on the 100th anniversary of the crash, so we would be assured that they were remembered. We found pictures of 2 of the firefighters’ tombstones online and went to the cemetery to get pictures of the third.

And when I got home, the story changed dramatically. There was an email waiting for me from a man named Brian Fitzgerald, the great-grandson of Lt. James Griffin. He had read an article in this newspaper and reached out to tell me about a ceremony they had planned for over a year. In fact, they had ordered a plaque to commemorate the sacrifice that these 3 heroes made.

This had been in the works for quite a while and Mr. Fitzgerald had done the legwork and tracked down living descendants of Firefighter Dunne, who lived nearby and would be at the ceremony.

They hadn’t been forgotten at all. 100 years later, these men were still remembered, not only by their descendants, but by the FDNY.

I should have known better. The FDNY never forgets their heroes.

And so we found ourselves at a beautiful ceremony at Engine 285 / Ladder 142 on 98th Street in Ozone Park, in the very same station house where these left on their fateful last call 100 years before.

And there were a lot of members of the Griffin family, with grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a few great-great grandchildren. Lt. Griffin’s son served in the FDNY and his many descendants have flourished and have made him proud.

Firefighter John Dunne’s 2 great-grandchildren were there and spoke about how they knew very little about this accident until Brian Fitzgerald called and how this has impacted their lives, and how it brought them closer to the hero in their family.

Sadly, firefighter Hanley had no living descendants but he was not without family in attendance on Sunday. That is because everyone was family at this gathering. And that’s what it is like to be a member of the FDNY; being part of one big giant family.

And they proved yet again that they always honor and never forget those that went before them. In the back of E285 / L142 there is a beautiful tribute to all the brave firefighters they have lost in the line of duty over the years, and that duty is to protect and watch over us.

From that fateful evening 100 years ago, right through today, that firehouse has never been empty. It’s been on call, just like every other firehouse in New York City, every second of every day and will continue to do so forever.

God bless the souls of Lt. James Griffin, and Firemen John Dunne and Michael Hanley and every other firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty; may they rest in eternal peace.

Exclusive: One-on-One with Larry Grubler of TSINY

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

“Transitional Services is a not-for-profit mental health agency that provides both residential and outpatient services to anybody over the age of 18 who has a psychiatric diagnosis,” Larry Grubler recited, as if he had said the line a hundred times before.

He likely has — Transitional Services for New York (TSINY) works to make Queens safer for its struggling locals, not for the community’s praise and accolades.

With facilities throughout the borough and in the Bronx, TSINY, based in Whitestone, provides a continuum of rehabilitative services with a community-based approach to those recovering from mental illness.

Grubler has been the CEO of TSINY since 2007 and with the agency for a total of 31 years.

He has taken upon himself to expand the facilities and assets by which his organization can best support some of Queens’ most vulnerable.

What exactly do these rehabilitative services entail?

To Grubler, who attended St. John’s University for his masters degree and received his doctorate from Southern California University, this means that individuals have constant access to care at their own pace and need level.

The whole concept of TSINY — which has a staff of approximately 400 people — is to transition, avoiding a “one size fits all” mentality regarding psychiatric treatment.

“In the housing units, for instance, we have all the housing from supervised living settings for people that need staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to teach them the skills that they need to function out in the community…so then we can go from there, and they would transition out to an apartment,” Grubler said in an interview.

TSINY offers housing to over 600 individuals, with a variety of housing situations.

The supervised community residence programs, for instance, consist of single and shared living quarters, with amenities including exercise rooms, libraries, kitchens and dining facilities.

The different buildings, programs and apartments offer a range of treatments to facilitate the eventual adjustment by their patients into the community.

Their buildings offer courtyard space and rooftop access, as to provide a safe way for the patients to socially interact with one another.

There are currently two projects under development in Jamaica, as well as two housing facilities already there, called the Delson and Amelie’s. The additional facilities are expected to be completed in 2024.

Since he became CEO, the nonprofit’s assets have grown from $12 million to nearly $100 million, largely due to the development of their residential buildings and other day facilities.

Starting with a budget of $250,000, they now have $40 million to continue with projects to meet the continually shifting needs of people with mental illness.

“There’s a lot of needs out there, and there’s been a lot of growth in the mental health field,” Grubler said. “I’ve got a really good team of people that helps support that growth. We’re constantly writing proposals to do more — to do better.”

The difference between homeless shelters and the supportive housing provided by TSINY, Grubler described, is the on-site supportive services to people living in the buildings with psychiatric disabilities.

“There’s too many people that are living in a homeless shelter to really give them the individual attention that they need to be rehabilitated… 600 people living in a building, that’s hard.”

In the residential facilities, TSINY teaches skills that residents need in order to function in the community, including how to cook, clean, budget, take medication, to do laundry, and other things “you and I might take for granted,” Grubler detailed.

“Because of the illness, which usually starts between the ages of 18 to 24, [such as] the schizophrenia, major depression and things of that nature, they don’t usually get that opportunity to learn those skills as effectively and practice them,” Grubler said. It’s TSINY’s job to step in and provide what they can to develop those necessary skills.

A crucial part of this development is job training — TSINY offers job resume building courses and on site-job support. They also have an “affirmative business,” called Turn the Page.

This used bookstore — funded by the city — allows residents to maintain a job for approximately three months to learn work skills.

Through this transitioning business model, patients are able to earn work experience and garner a sense of pride in their work abilities.

There are a number of success stories garnered from this affirmative business model, Grubler detailed, including a woman who now works on the Intrepid.

“Because of the stigma of mental illness, people don’t usually want people who are mentally ill having a program in their neighborhoods,” he said. “But with [Turn the Page], other community boards, other communities have said, ‘please open one near us.’”

Grubler would be willing to open another affirmative business, he said, with the proper funding.

Through Grubler’s leadership, TSINY continues to grow, serving Queens’ vulnerable in a community-based supportive way.

For more information on TSINY, visit

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