Bay Ridge

Foodtown manager does more than feed hungry, says P.T.A.

February 12, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brotherhood Award winner John Colberg Jr. accepts congratulations from P.S./I.S 104 leaders. Pictured with Colberg are P.T.A. recording Secretary Sophia Koutouzis; Principal Marie DiBella; P.T.A. President Donna Periera-Jahn; P.T.A. Vice President Penny Merron; and P.T.A. Co-Corresponding Secretary Jade LaCroix (left to right). Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

The P.T.A. at P.S./I.S. 104, which presents a Brotherhood Award each year, decided to honor an everyday hero of Bay Ridge this time around.

The school’s annual Brotherhood Award was presented to John Colberg, Jr., the assistant manager of the Foodtown supermarket in Bay Ridge, during a ceremony at the school at 9115 Fifth Ave. on Thursday.

Colberg received a plaque from P.T.A. President Donna Periera-Jahn and P.T.A. leaders, along with certificates of appreciation from aides to state Sen. Marty Golden and Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

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The ceremony was timed to coincide with “Respect for All Week,” a week-long celebration of brotherhood and unity that takes place in all public schools in New York City. The P.T.A. at P.S./I.S. 104 has been honoring Brooklyn civic leaders with a Brotherhood Award each year for more than half a century. Previous winners have included Bill Guarinello, president and CEO of HeartShare Human Services of New York.

P.T.A. leaders said Colberg provides food trays and other services for school events and that his high quality of service always comes with a smile. “We call on Foodtown, specifically John, for last minute things. He always accommodates,” said Angela Diyarza, co-corresponding secretary of the P.T.A.

Colberg earned the Brotherhood Award because he treats all of his customers with respect and dignity, according to Diyarza, who told hundreds of students, teachers and parents who packed the auditorium for the ceremony that Colberg “personifies what respect is.”

Diyarza also praised Colberg’s ability to have Foodtown adapt to changing demographics in the neighborhood and adjust its food offerings accordingly. “He has a willingness to accept that a community changes over time,” she said.

Colberg, who has worked at Foodtown at 9105 Third Ave. for seven years, has been involved in the food business for more than 20 years. He works alongside his father, John Colberg, Sr. in the supermarket. The elder Colberg was on hand at the ceremony to see his son win the award.

“We are honored to be here,” John Colberg Jr. said, adding that his success is due to “the team I have behind me.”

His goal and the goal of the supermarket’s workers, is to “go above and beyond our means to give you that service.”

Colberg recalled that in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, an organization in Manhattan requested Foodtown’s help in feeding victims whose homes were destroyed by the hurricane. “We put together packages for them,” he said, adding that he learned a valuable lesson in helping others. “That’s really when you are who you are meant to be,” he said.

The ceremony included a performance by the students of Class 2-109 that featured songs and recitations on brotherhood and how children can help make the world better. The students worked under the direction of teacher Maria Lembo.

Treating others with kindness, looking after senior citizens and taking good care of the planet by recycling trash were just some of the suggestions from the children on making the world a better place. The students performed onstage beneath a sign that read, “My Town My World.” The stage and the school piano were decorated with flags from dozens of countries.

“You put a smile on my face,” Principal Marie DiBella told the second graders at the end of the performance.

Following the ceremony, the P.T.A hosted a Brotherhood Tea in the school cafeteria.



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