Bay Ridge

Lemonade Coalition teams up to paint Bay Ridge benches

June 10, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lemonade Coalition members put the finishing touches of paint on a bench. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Bay Ridge residents who enjoy sitting on Shore Road and taking in the breathtaking view of New York Harbor that the shoreline offers now have comfortable, freshly painted benches to sit on, thanks to a group of local kids determined to do good things for their community.

Meet the Bay Ridge Lemonade Coalition!

Made up of a group of children who have taken it upon themselves to perform charitable works and conduct neighborhood improvement projects, the coalition formed a few years ago.

On June 9, the coalition led a bench-painting effort along Shore Road. The kids started at Shore Road and 72nd Street and worked on more than two dozen benches between 72nd Street and Bay Ridge Parkway.

“The people of this community deserve to have nice benches to sit on and enjoy the beautiful view of the water,” Coalition President Preston Ferraiuolo told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Nearly half of the coalition’s members came to Shore Road to paint the benches. The kids in the group who attend public school were off from school on Thursday because it was Brooklyn Day. The coalition members who are private-school students had classes that day and were unable to join in the beautification effort.

In addition to Preston, the bench painting volunteers included Joseph Khouzami, Caroline Hanna, Anthony Butsikares and Sonia, Samantha and Sabrina Meadows.

Susie Sartzetakis, a sixth-grader at Dyker Heights Intermediate School, is the project chairperson of the bench beautification project.

With help from their parents, the kids placed drop cloths around each bench, grabbed their brushes and got to work, giving the benches a fresh coat of forest green pain. The new color blended in perfectly with the trees and the bucolic surroundings near the waterfront.

The New York City Department of Parks provided the paint. Parents went out and purchased paint brushes and drop cloths to help the children out.

The bench painting project came about when Susie was walking along picturesque Shore Road with her parents one day and became dismayed at the deterioration of the benches on the sidewalk outside Shore Road Park. “I noticed that the benches were all torn down and messy,” she told the Eagle.

Large nails were protruding from the backs of many of the benches and planks were missing, making it difficult to sit.

When Susie got home, she contacted her fellow coalition members and suggested that they do something about the situation.

Their first step was to determine the extent of the damage. Susie, Preston and Joseph conducted a block-by-block survey of the benches along Shore Road from 69th Street all the way to 100th Street, more than 700 benches in all, and presented their findings to the Parks Department and to Community Board 10 in Bay Ridge.

“We numbered the benches and put in the locations, like if a bench was next to a tree,” said Joseph, who attends Dyker Heights Intermediate School.

Once their survey was complete, the kids organized it into a list and sent it off to the Parks Department and Board 10.

The Parks Department responded by repairing the benches and by giving the coalition permission to paint the benches.

The bench beautification effort was just the latest project for the coalition.

Many of the coalition’s members are sixth-graders who met each other at summer day camps. “Some of us went to the same school,” Susie said. Several of the students attended the same elementary school and then separated after the fifth grade to go to different intermediate schools.

The coalition performs a wide variety of charitable endeavors and neighborhood improvement projects.

“We gave out turkey treats to the officers at Fort Hamilton,” said Preston, a student at Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School. He was referring to the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, the city’s only active duty military base.

The youngsters also created handmade birthday cards and donated them to Reaching Out Community Services, a Bensonhurst-based program that operates a food pantry and provides assistance to families in need.

“We also set up a lemonade stand at the Summer Stroll on Third Avenue to raise money,” Preston said.

The coalition’s members also include Jenna Abi-Habib, Nicholas Bambina, Athena Bardis, Lucia Garuccio, Arianna Gnerre, Antonio Gnerre, Matthew Hanna, Sarah Joseph and Daniel Kabbez.

For more information on coalition’s projects, visit the group’s Facebook page at or email [email protected].


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