Bay Ridge

Fourth annual Summer Celebration of Giving boosts profile and coffers of Bay Ridge Center

July 10, 2024 Wayne Daren Schneiderman
From left: Pastor Paul H. Knudsen, Todd W. Fliedner, Donna McClellan and Councilmember Justin Brannan. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
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BAY RIDGE — The Bay Ridge Center’s (BRC) fourth annual Summer Celebration of Giving fundraiser raised a whopping $25,000 and drew more than 150 people on Saturday, June 29, at the Lutheran Elementary School playground.

Donna McClellan alongside Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
Donna McClellan alongside Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The event is a day when the BRC reflects on its wonderful community partnerships and takes time to acknowledge their importance to its mission, according to Executive Director Todd W. Fliedner.

“It’s also about honoring people that have been loyal to our organization,” Fliedner said. “People that are stakeholders in the Bay Ridge community, and have very impressive careers of service in the neighborhood. Each year we have a particular theme and this year’s was a Hawaiian luau… everybody was given a lei.”

More than 150 guests attended Bay Ridge Center’s Summer Celebration of Giving on June 29. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
More than 150 guests attended Bay Ridge Center’s Summer Celebration of Giving on June 29. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Four individuals were honored at the event: Pastor of Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church Paul H. Knudsen, a BRC board member and treasurer, Donna McClellan from Connors and Sullivan law firm and BRC board member, Kim Laraichi, BRC’s director of Home Delivered Meals and Rachel Gutierrez, treasurer for BRC’s Senior Advisory Council.

From left: Todd W. Fliedner, Kim Laraichi, Donna McClellan, Rachel Gutierrez and Paul H. Knudsen. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
From left: Todd W. Fliedner, Kim Laraichi, Donna McClellan, Rachel Gutierrez and Paul H. Knudsen. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Fliedner had only complimentary words for the honorees. 

“Both Paul and Donna led us through a period of financial hardship that jeopardized the operation of the Bay Ridge Center,” Fliedner explained. “Now that the center is thriving with a complete network of services and a new home, it seems especially fitting that we honor them and thank them for helping us make it through to the other side. 

Fliedner continued, “Kim does such a fine job supervising a staff of 18 to ensure that homebound individuals in southwest Brooklyn receive hot, home-cooked meals. Rachel advocates on behalf of the Center’s membership, all the while addressing key concerns to its staff and stakeholders.”

From left: Jerry and Janet Kassar with guest. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
From left: Jerry and Janet Kassar with guest. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Notable guests at the event included Councilmember Justin Brannan and Guild for Exceptional Children Executive Director and CEO Joe Riley. 

Honoree Kim Laraichi and Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
Honoree Kim Laraichi and Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Fliedner pointed out that the BRC, which officially opened its doors to individuals 60 and older this past March in one of Brooklyn’s biggest NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities),  has been doing quite well in terms of membership.

“The numbers have been phenomenal, and they continue to grow,” Fliedner said. “Currently, we have about 1,500 members.” 

Honoree Pastor Paul H. Knudsen with Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
Honoree Pastor Paul H. Knudsen with Todd W. Fliedner. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The 21,000 square foot facility offers a wide range of innovative free services that address older adults’ biological, psychological, social and cultural needs. 

The BRC features activity rooms, including a strength training gym, a technology learning lab, an art room for classes and art therapy, a music appreciation studio and a health and wellness room to which members of Maimonides hospital staff will come to work with older adults. 

Todd W. Fliedner and Rachel Gutierrez. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
Todd W. Fliedner and Rachel Gutierrez. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta


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