Art competition to benefit cancer patients

An art contest is uniting diverse artists from Queens and beyond with a mission of bringing hope for cancer patients.

On April 30 at 5:30 p.m., Paddle For The Cure founder Leah Dulce Salmorin and this columnist will co-host an art show on Zoom and Facebook from the landmarked Ridgewood Savings Bank at 107-55 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.

“Arts For Life” will feature numerous artists competing in the categories of painting, photography, and drawing.

Winning artists will donate their artwork to be displayed at the Hope Pavilion Clinic. Entries will be judged by Mervin David, an artist and nurse practitioner with Elmhurst Hospital.

They will also receive $100 donated by Ridgewood Savings Bank. Artists who enrolled paid $20, which will benefit Elmhurst Hospital’s Hope Pavilion Cancer Clinic and Paddle For The Cure.

“Ridgewood Savings Bank has always been a bank that prides itself on its community.,” said branch manager Nancy Adzemovic. “I want to go out into the community and search for more partnerships.”

Over the years, the bank has funded history murals, sponsored the 112th Precinct’s Night Out Against Crime, organized blood drives, and coordinated a carnival-themed family festival.

The contest was inspired in part by an exhibit at Jade Eatery in Forests Hills Gardens by this columnist titled “Reflections of Historic Forest Hills.” Since 2019, it has been the center of several fundraising events for Paddle For the Cure.

Salmorin is herself a breast cancer survivor. She founded Paddle For The Cure, which supports fellow survivors through recreational opportunities to foster a healthy lifestyle and offer emotional support and team spirit.

“I vowed to give where I can, to help others affected, and I feel that I cannot waste the rest of my life without making an impact on this planet,” said Salmorin.

To maintain a healthy body and state of mind, Salmorin swims, bikes, does yoga and acupuncture. She serves as a lector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Joan of Arc.

Her story, “Humility & Faith,” discusses her two lessons as a survivor and was featured in “Faces of Inspiration,” a book that spotlights breast cancer stories.

“Giving me the gift of life is also my way of giving back to Elmhurst Hospital, my home away from home where I was treated. I will never forget the first time I stepped into the doors and the entire staff welcomed me with beautiful smiles.

“I also believe that there are many artists who need to be recognized, and this event brings every individual together as one for a great cause,” she added. “Art is the key to healing that can touch one heart to another.” Purchase tickets for the virtual event here.

Queens to remember, mourn those COVID took

As of this week, Queens has lost 9,659 residents to COVID, a tragic loss of life for our borough. That’s 9,659 lives cut short, and 9,659 families dealing with the heartbreak of losing a loved one and being confronted daily with the cause of that pain.
This coming Saturday, May 1, some of those families and their friends will gather in Forest Park to remember all of those that have been lost.
The Queens COVID Remembrance Day will take place at the Forest Park Bandshell and be open to the public from 2 to 8 p.m.
Portraits of many of the victims will be on display, filling the empty benches of the bandshell. The portraits were created by 16-year-old artist Hannah Ernst, who started drawing COVID victims after her grandfather Cal passed away from the virus.
There will be a Floral Heart ceremony by artist Kristina Libby at 4 p.m. and a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m.
One of the faces that will be represented in the empty benches will be Woodhaven’s Jeffrey Cohen. I met Jeff just the one time, at a Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society meeting at the Avenue Diner right before our world turned upside down.
It was nice to meet him. We were friends on Facebook for a while, but hadn’t met in person until that night. He was interested in our neighborhood’s history and enjoyed the presentation. I have a feeling he would have come back to another meeting.
But we never met again. He passed away on April 16, 2020, at the age of 57.
Had I gotten to know Jeff better, I would be able to tell you more. Instead, I asked family and friends of Jeff to tell us a little bit about him. This is from Jeff’s father and his sisters, Rayna and Bari:

Jeffrey Cohen was born March 3, 1963, in Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing. He grew up in Forest Park Co-ops in Woodhaven and ended up living there with his wife and daughter.
Jeffrey was a loving son, brother, husband, father, uncle and a great friend to all.
Growing up in Woodhaven in the 70’s and 80’s, you could always find Jeff in Forest Park with his friends with his long red rocker hair, which he was famous for and so proud.
As his sisters, we shared hair care products with him and took notes, but we were never allowed to touch his hair.
He made lifelong friends in Woodhaven and loved calling it home.
Jeff always had a smile on his face and was always kind and respectful to others. Everyone that knew him said, “Jeff was just a nice guy.”
“Even during bad times, you would never know because he would still greet you with a smile and without a care in the world.
You can’t plan life, and as his family we are devastated by what COVID took from us. Someone we loved, someone that still had so much life to live, someone we were not done with yet.
The night Jeff passed away, it happened so fast that we are still in disbelief. There is a huge hole our hearts.
Jeff, you are missed so much by all of us and we hope that you are with mommy watching over all of us.
Daddy, Rayna and Bari

Longtime friend Annette Frank wrote:

Jeff was my friend for 45 years. We grew up together, sharing happy times and sad times and every holiday possible.
Over the years, we became more like family than friends. Often I would describe Jeff as my “brother from another mother.”
It’s rare to have a lifelong friendship like ours. I will always cherish our memories. I miss my friend and brother Jeff.

We have all lost something over the past year due to COVID. But most of our losses and problems seem small when compared to the loss of a loved one.
And since the vast majority of the victims’ families were denied the ability to mourn their losses at wakes or funerals, this weekend’s remembrance ceremony is so very needed.
Needed by the Cohen family, mourning their loss of Jeff, and needed by the 9,658 other families mourning their own losses.
And if you are not one of those families, you are very, very lucky and can count your blessings while saying a prayer for the souls of those that COVID took from us all.

Yang promises swifter switch to clean energy

Andrew Yang wants to convert landfills into renewable energy.
Yang announced last week that if elected mayor, his administration would bring solar projects to former landfill sites in New York City, beginning with the Edgemere Landfill located adjacent to Rockaway Community Park on April 22.
Annika Colston, president and founder of AC Power, is working with Yang on his plan. Edgemere Landfill is one of thousands of brownfield sites around New York City that can be repurposed as community solar installations.
“This landfill could accommodate a large project of 12 megawatts, which is enough to power 2,500 homes,” said Colston. “Those homes could be offered solar through the state community solar program.
“This program will offer clean renewable energy to low and moderate-income families at a discount to their current electricity,” she added. “So there are so many benefits to these types of projects, not only environmentally, but also to the community and the city.”
Yang detailed his plan to power New York City with 80 percent clean energy by 2030 by focusing on solar deployment, battery storage permitting and construction, new interconnections to upstate wind and Canadian hydropower sources, and the acceleration of offshore wind assembly and transmission.
Currently, almost 75 percent of the city’s electricity still comes from fossil fuel. Under the city’s current plan to move to renewable energy sources, in a decade more than 50 percent of electricity will still come from power plants.
“We all agree the city needs to embrace the green economy, but the city has moved too slowly for too long,” said Yang. “What we need now is action. Every day we wait is a missed opportunity for our economy, our health, and our future. My administration won’t wait to pursue these important projects and essential goals.”
Yang also wants to put social and racial justice at the center of the city’s climate work and make sure all New Yorkers have the skills to participate in the green economy, as well as educate the next generation on climate change.
“We have to create green jobs,” said Yang. “A lot of the things I just talked about are going to be job creators, such as battery power plants, solar panel installations, and retrofitting municipal buildings, and that’s a win for us all.”

End the silence

Dear Editor,
As a Kew Gardens Hills resident & former member of the 107th Police Precinct Community Council, I was shocked & saddened over the suicide of Commander Denis Mullaney on April 5.
At age 44, he left behind a wife, young son and a 20-year career of dedication to
public safety. We’ll never know what drove him to this desperate act, but Father Joseph Ponti told mourners at St. Mel’s Catholic Church in Flushing that “people are fragile, they break.”
What was Deputy Inspector Mullaney’s breaking point? The 107th Precinct, which he headed since September, has one of the city’s lowest crime rates, with auto theft as its top problem.
The 107th’s total crime rate dropped substantially under his command. But police in New York City and nationwide face pressure from rising violent crime and anti-cop
More than 30 cops across the U.S. killed themselves during the first three months of 2021.
Mullaney was going through a divorce from his wife, also a cop, which may have
been a catalyst.
But the NYPD’s blue wall of silence regarding mental illness might be another factor. Cops fear losing their badges if they seek therapy or psychiatric help.
As a Chicago wire service reporter in the early 1960s, I saw the pressures facing police. Even a mundane incident like a family quarrel could suddenly explode into violence.
But the pressures today are much greater. Cops deal with heavily armed criminals and felon-friendly lawmakers who want to empty prisons and slash police budgets.
Like all of us, cops are human and sometimes make tragic mistakes. They must be held accountable when that happens, but this doesn’t justify a blanket condemnation of the entire law enforcement profession.
Cops risk their lives daily to protect us and preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. They deserve our support.
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Cart check

Dear Editor,
I am in total recognition of food carts that don’t have a license, but they must be of a certain size and length. Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has received much backlash on this, but I have to agree with him – partly.
They should not block subway stairways or create noise and pollution.
Some of these carts serve great food, but they must not be located in front of restaurants.
This counts also for sellers of personal protection equipment, clothes, and other products that block sidewalks. In Flushing, I feel like I am going through a crowded flea market.
There is no enforcement in the area, and I can understand Mr. Yang’s disgust.
Randy Savitt

Just one step

Dear Editor,
Women Creating Change (WCC) stands in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and the families of countless other Black and Brown people taken from us by police violence.
While the Derek Chauvin verdict demonstrates that some accountability is possible, the urgency for systemic change remains, as evidenced by the numerous police shootings that have taken place since Mr. Floyd’s murder last May.
Reimagining a public safety system that values life and equity above all else will require institutional changes and sustained advocacy.
Last summer, New Yorkers and people around the world from diverse backgrounds took to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to demand justice.
The verdict is an important milestone, but it is just one step on what we know will be a long road. Working together, we can effect real change and create a more just and equitable nation.
Much work remains, and WCC is committed to supporting and working alongside our peers to fight for equity and justice.
Deborah Martin Owens
Board Chair
Carole Wacey,
President & CEO

Author pens book about historic homes of Queens

A new book explores the notable homes across the borough of Queens.
Historic Houses of Queens was written by Rob MacKay, who currently works for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His interest in writing the book
grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society.
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized, but historically impressive, houses.
A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant dwellings, the homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a
large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria.
Musicians whose homes are still standing in the borough include Louis Armstrong,
Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne.
Through more than 200 photographs, Historic Houses of Queens explores the homes’ architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, and peculiarities.
All the while, MacKay considers that real humans lived in them. They grew up in them. They relaxed in them. They proudly showed them to friends and family. And in some cases, they lost them to fire, financial issues or urban renewal projects.
“This is a true labor of love,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. I spent a countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”

Historic Houses of Queens is currently available on Arcadia Publishing’s website.

Lightbridge Academy opening location in Greenpoint

The child care and education company Lightbridge Academy last week announced a new franchise at 23 India Street in Greenpoint.
Lightbridge Academy currently operates 58 locations throughout the U.S., including multiple sites in Manhattan. The Greenpoint location will be the company’s third in Brooklyn, with a Prospect Heights location currently set to open in April and a Downtown Brooklyn location slated for June.
“We are happy to be breaking into the Brooklyn market,” explained David Falzarano, senior vice president of Franchise Development for Lightbridge and son of the company’s founders. “We will hopefully oversee the best child care in town, and we love the fact that families are working on this project together.”
The New Jersey-based company offers state-of-the-art child care centers for ages six weeks to kindergarten, and operates through a franchise model that tasks sponsor families with overseeing the development of each location.
The Greenpoint location is sponsored by Alok Rai, a former finance executive at Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Rai is also the father of two young children, and has been actively looking for childcare franchise opportunities since 2014.
“It was a perfect match,” Rai explained. “Everyone has been saying ‘thank you, this is what we’ve been missing in Greenpoint.’”
Rai elaborated on his decision to transition from finance to education.
“I come from finance, which is a very aggressive world,” he said. “I oversaw a team of 300, and can bring my leadership skills to education. I run a tight ship and keep the quality high.”
Rai, his wife, and their two kids currently live in New Jersey, but the family plans on moving to Brooklyn to oversee the franchise. He said Lightbridge Academy is a good match for Greenpoint.
“The reason was twofold,” he said. “We choose Lightbridge because the team is community based. Also, the transformation of this area with new residential buildings created a need for child care and education.”
The Greenpoint Lightbridge Academy is currently scheduled to open in the fall. The franchise is located on the ground level of a recently constructed mixed-use facility along the Greenpoint waterfront.
During Monday’s event, a mother who lives in one of the apartments above the new location expressed her excitement about new childcare opportunities in the area.
“I wish it would open next month,” she said. “I could just bring my kids downstairs. That would be great.”

Macy’s volunteers help clean LIC park

On April 22, employee volunteers from the Macy’s Partners in Time program helped the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy in Long Island City with park clean up, trash removal, weeding and planting for the spring season. The group was also given a tour of the park, touching on its sustainability and resilient design features.
Through a corporate giving grant, Macy’s is providing a $10,000 contribution in support of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy efforts.

Harbor Protectors initiative launches on Earth Day

Members of the Department of Environmental Protection, Coney Island Beautification Project, community leaders, and elected officials launched the Harbor Protectors initiative on Earth Day.
Thursday’s event was held on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, and was attended by hundreds of students from P.S. 188, P.S. 288, and other nearby public schools.
The Harbor Protectors Initiative is a volunteer program co-designed by the Department of Environmental Protection and Coney Island Beautification Project.
The initiative hopes to attract volunteers by allowing them to sign up for specific clean-up projects in their neighborhoods and along Brooklyn’s waterways. Currently, Harbor Protectors plans on coordinating shoreline cleanups, rain garden restoration, and catch basin repairs.
“I grew up in Coney Island and it is still my home,” said Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontius. “Seeing the efforts of this new initiative coming together with a long-standing community organization like the Coney Island Beautification Project gives me great joy and hope as we work to protect the community from pollution.”
She advised the young audience to be mindful of their role.
“It is our job to show we care”Frontius said. “Protecting the planet is every generation’s responsibility, and now it is our turn.”
Councilman Mark Treyger echoed a similar sentiment.
“Earth Day is an important day, but shouldn’t everyday be Earth Day?” he asked. “This is called taking ownership of our community. Even if it’s just picking up trash, every little bit helps.”
Treyger also warned that climate change will only continue to affect Brooklyn, especially communities near the water.
“The effects of climate change are already present in this part of Coney Island,” he explained. “You see it when water overflows from the canal.”
After the speaking portion of the event, the students broke into groups and conducted a cleanup along Mermaid and Surf avenues, removing litter from the neighborhood’s sidewalks and streets.
The Coney Island Beautification Project is a civic organization created in the wake of Super-storm Sandy to encourage community involvement in conservation and resiliency efforts. For close to a decade, the group has conducted flood control, composting, and recycling programs.
“When you nonchalantly throw your potato chip bags, your cookie wrappers, your drink container, on the street, they directly end up in our waters,” said group president Pamela Pettyjohn. “Think before we toss, down the catch basin into the waters and onto the beaches.”

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