Students go for the gold in the Go Green initiative

Share this:

Family members and teachers showed up in full force at Xaverian High School on Thursday, February 25 in support of their children and students for the first annual Anti-Littering Essay-Writing Contest.

The “Don’t Drop It” campaign presented by the office of Senator Marty Golden is meant to encourage kids to be more environmentally conscious.

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Christopher Malone
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Christopher Malone

“Through this essay contest,” he said, “we are increasing awareness about the harmful effects of littering. Keeping our streets clean takes a team effort and these students will now encourage others to join the fight against littering.”

For this contest, students from grades three through five, in both public and parochial schools from across Golden’s district, were asked to write an essay describing ways to keep their neighborhoods clean. Kim Parker, a judge, made an opening statement along with John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to Golden. They expressed the importance of events and contests like these, that they not only promote the idea of a clean planet, but also promote creative and analytical writing.

“Lessons like this are actually learned and taken into the student’s lives and classrooms,” said Quaglione.

For the competition, people filled the seats in the school cafeteria to hear 21 finalists (out of 500 submissions) recite their essays for a panel of judges including Parker; Debra Barreto, deputy director, customer relations at the city’s Department of Sanitation; Josephine Beckmann, district manager, Community Board 10; Doris Cruz, vice chair, CB 10; and Laurie Windsor, president of Community Education Council District 20.

One by one, students stood in front of the audience of over 150 people to read their essays and share their ideas on how to keep their communities clean. Some thought to make garbage cans brighter and better looking like the ones in amusement parks or to create school anti-litter teams that could compete with other schools. Some thought of catchy slogans to put on signs to go around the neighborhood or “adopt-a-block” programs and even garbage can basketball hoops.

The senator shared some words with the young writers and talked about the importance of the Go Green movement, stressing, “Fighting litter is a lifetime job.” Golden also shared facts about the impact of average trash items and how long it takes for them to break down. Then, he invited all finalists to come up and sign the new sign designed for the “Don’t Drop It” campaign which will hang in his office.

When it came time to name the winner, Golden reminded the students that they were all winners. In first place was Fiona Costello of St. Patrick’s Catholic Academy, who won a pizza party for her class and a $100 gift card. The second place winner, Diana Stoupakis of P.S. 186, won a $50 gift card and the third place winner, Agnes Keough of Visitation Academy, won a $25 gift card.

“A terrible beauty” — Irish independence celebrated as remembrance stone unveiled

Share this:

Bay Ridge residents now have a permanent monument to mark the struggle for Irish independence, with the unveiling of a commemoration stone at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, 9511 Fourth Avenue.

The stone — which marks the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising — was unveiled on Saturday, March 19, by the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Parade Committee in collaboration with the Consulate General of Ireland on the Church grounds.

The stone serves as a tribute to the Irish who gave their lives 100 years ago during and after the organized rebellion, which occurred during Easter week, to free Ireland from British rule.

“As the St. Patrick’s Day Committee associated with St. Patrick’s Church, we promote Irish Catholicism, Irish heritage and letting people know all the sacrifices people made for the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Parade Committee President Frankie Marra stated. People packed the sidewalk outside the St. Patrick’s Church courtyard on Saturday for the unveiling of the stone.

Along with other local representatives and Irish natives, State Senator Marty Golden spoke, “As an Irish-American I’m proud of our rich history and the struggles that we have endured,” he said. “These challenges have made the Irish resilient and strong. God Bless Ireland, God bless the United States of America and God bless each and every one of us in our community.”

Bay Ridge kicks off St. Patrick’s Day Parade with packed brunch

Share this:

Paradegoers gathered on Sunday, March 20 at Hunter’s Steakhouse, right across the street from St. Patrick’s Church, for a pre-parade brunch that had the entire restaurant packed to the brim for a day of Irish-style celebration.

Toasting the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade at the event were local celebrities such as State Senator Marty Golden, Assemblymember Pamela Harris and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who spoke in commemoration as well as honoring the parade grand marshal and deputy marshals.

Golden noted that the parade has been, “Tremendously successful over the last 23 years and a lot of that goes to Frankie Marra and Linda Gallagher-Lomanto and the committee.” Besides the many honorees of the parade, the late Larry Morrish — one of the founders of the parade — was also remembered.

“It’s a great kickoff to the parade and a wonderful celebration,” noted Marra. “On top of that, we were all happy the snow stayed away for the day.”

Free tax assistance available for eligible Brooklynites

Share this:

Tax season is upon us! April 15 will be here before many realize and a majority of New Yorkers have yet to file their returns.

To aid taxpayers, Jerry Boone, commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF) in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, are providing help. On March 8, they announced that there are five free federal and state tax e-filing assistance locations throughout Brooklyn for people to seek help and ask questions. Only Brooklyn residents that make less than $62,000 a year are eligible.

At these sites, located at different corners of the borough, taxpayers will be able to do their taxes using a user-friendly computer program which helps decrease errors and find tax breaks. All sites will feature volunteers from the NYSDTF who will answer questions, find relevant deductions and provide assistance with the computer program.

The program will be held at the Jamaica Bay Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), 9727 Seaview Avenue and the Dekalb BPL, 790 Bushwick Avenue, on Mondays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. On Tuesdays, the assistance will be available at the Red Hook BPL, 7 Wolcott Street, from 1-6 p.m. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the program will be held at the Coney Island BPL, 1901 Mermaid Avenue, from 1-4 p.m. In addition, the Jamaica Bay BPL will host the program on Thursdays, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The Asian Community United Society, 6506 Bay Parkway, will also host the program on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Eligible Brooklynites who have yet to file their taxes are urged to attend one of these workshops, “Tax season can be challenging for those who lack the financial means to acquire the assistance of an expert who knows all of the relevant credits and deductions, which is why initiatives like these that educate and empower thousands of Brooklynites are so valuable,” said Adams.

According to Boone, this initiative is a great option for taxpayers to save potentially hundreds of dollars that might otherwise be spent on tax preparation services and software.

Go to or call 311 for more info. Details on the IRS’s volunteer tax assistance program is available at

GEC Eggs-travaganza was an eggs-cellent hit!

Share this:

Easter bonnets were on display at the Spring “Eggs”-Travaganza, a fundraising luncheon and gift auction held by the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) on Sunday, March 13.

The event took place at Gargiulo’s Restaurant, 2911 West 15th Street, and drew a crowd of 475 people who had been urged to don the holiday headgear, with Easter right around the corner.

A good time was had by hold said GEC Executive Director Paul Cassone, who noted that, compared to other GEC fundraisers, “This one is a little different in that it is driven specifically by Guild members. Parents who have children in day programs reach out to their family and friends. We have found it to be very successful.”

The GEC, is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 by a small yet dedicated group of parents advocating for their developmentally disabled children, which eventually opened the first group home in New York City in 1970. The GEC has grown into an organization which serves up to 1,000 daily while providing integral services for children and adults facing disabilities.

The event — “an effort by parents and members of the Guild to raise awareness of the work we do and help raise money to supplement out programs,” according to Cassone — was co-chaired by Margaret DeVincenzo, Mary Dory and Celeste Sena. At the event, those in attendance were able to buy raffles for hundreds of donated prizes, with the funds raised going to supplement Guild programs, Cassone said.

For more information on the Guild and its programs, visit

Additional reporting done by Helen Klein.

PHOTOS: Families hop over to Gravesend for Easter fun

Share this:

Children got to hang out with the Easter Bunny and hunt for brightly colored eggs during the annual Easter fair organized by Our Lady of Grace Church on the weekend of March 12 and 13.

The event, held at the church, 385 Avenue W, also included an Easter breakfast on Sunday, pictures with the Easter Bunny on Saturday and egg painting.

A total of 97 kids showed up for the egg hunt, sponsored by Imperial Tae Kwon Do, said Mary Ann De Luca, an organizer of the occasion, who added that 58 youngsters took photos with the big bunny.

In addition, there were also games such as a ring toss or basketball shoot for people to take part in, run by Joann Cassata and the Boy Scouts. Patricia Marotta, a parishioner, helped organize the Italian Café downstairs where breakfast, lunch and dinner were served all day. Vendors were also on hand selling Easter goodies.

Among those who contributed to the event were the church’s teen group, the Knights of Columbus, Boy and Girl Scouts and the Widowed Support Group.

Brooklynites go bald for a good cause at Park Slope watering hole

Share this:

Members of Kappa Sigma and the Knights of Pythias, and Pratt Institute alumni marked St. Baldrick’s Day on Saturday, March 5, joining forces to raise money in support of research for childhood cancer.

Family and friends showed up at Park Slope watering hole 200 Fifth Avenue in support of 35 participants who auctioned off their hair and lost it all.

Avery Marder of the Knights of Pythias is even rocking a bold new goatee following the event; he had not planned on auctioning off his beard but he helped raise over $700 alone.

Marder, part of a sub-group that raised $2,000 and helped coordinate the event, had taken part before and goes, “as often as possible to show support for the great cause,” he said, stressing, “Eighty five percent of funds go to cancer research.”

Daniel Ryan, a member of Kappa Sigma and a Pratt Institute alumnus, began with a St. Baldrick’s Day event 10 years ago in Chicago. His father, a cancer survivor, and friends helped out and, after their great success, they moved the event to New York, using their connections through Pratt Institute to gain ground. Now, a decade later, the total amount of money they have raised, after a $25,000 weekend, is nearing the $200,000 mark.

Ryan attributes their success to the undergrads and alumni of Pratt, primarily of Kappa Sigma, as well as the Brooklyn Bowl and Lagunitas Beer Co. whose family consists of Pratt alumni. In addition, many other businesses donate gifts for raffles which helps immensely for fundraising.

The top participants include Matt B., Brendan Maroney and Ryan who, in collaboration, raised almost $9,000, nearly half their goal for the day. Both Ryan and Marder also noted that many more donations are promised.

At every St. Baldrick’s event, local children are honored for their bravery in their battle with cancer. Nicholas M., 10 and Joseph M., 8, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and now in remission, were the honorees on Saturday. To read their stories, visit the event page at

For more info, go to to find out more about the mission, events, honorees and ways to donate.

Ringling Brothers visit Brooklyn Hospital and bring more than just smiles

Share this:

The Greatest Show on Earth brought circus fun to young patients at Brooklyn Hospital, on Wednesday, February 24, as the ringmaster of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, joined by a troupe of acrobats, clowns and dancers, showed up to perform for current and former patients of the hospital’s pediatric hematology and oncology departments.

In addition, the circus donated $10,000 to the hospital, as well as 150 tickets for the Barclays Center show, and chose a four-year-old to receive the check at the show. The staff at the hospital was excited to go to the show and thankful for the foundation’s donation.

Brooklyn Hospital will use the sizeable donation to aid local pediatric cancer and hematology patients.

But, the circus’s commitment to the cause goes beyond the single event and donation. Ringling Brothers is performing a cancer research tour at hospitals around the country in order to raise awareness of the issue. Dr. Joshua Schiffman of the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics and the Huntsman Cancer Institute is working in association with Ringling Brothers and the Feld Foundation to study the effects of cancer on elephants and their natural resistance to it, in hopes of leading to breakthroughs to aid people around the world.

In early May, Ringling Brothers will retire its elephants ranging in age from five to 47, which will live on a 200-acre plantation, where they will mostly be used for reproductive purposes, but also to aid Schiffman’s research.

Purim events and activities in no short supply

Share this:

Purim, among the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar, has been celebrated for 2,500 years and shows no signs of slowing down here in Brooklyn where a wide range of venues are throwing Purim bashes for all ages to enjoy.

In Flatbush, Temple Beth Emeth, 83 Marlborough Road, will hold its Purim Carnival on Saturday, March 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. Families can enjoy a costume parade, games and prizes, hamantaschen and a pizza party for $10 per person; $30 maximum per family. Children under two are free. For more information, call 718-282-1596 or e-mail [email protected]

Those looking for educational events can go to the Brooklyn Children Museum’s Purim celebration, March 19 and 20 where families can share the fun and traditions that go hand in hand with the holiday. Families with children 3+ can make Purim masks on the 20th. The museum is located at 145 Brooklyn Avenue. For more information, call 718-735-4400.

The same day, at 12 p.m., the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, 7802 Bay Parkway, will be holding “The Purim Quest: The Search for Haman’s Plans.” Patrons can be part of a live drum circle and see a concert by the JCH School of Music and Dance. A children’s costume contest will follow all of the festivities so make sure to come prepared! For more information, call 718-943-6396.

Also on Sunday, the Kings Bay Y, located at 3495 Nostrand Avenue, will be holding its annual Purim Carnival on March 20 with activities for all ages including rides, sand art, face painting, Purim themed arts and crafts, carnival games and a costume contest. For more information, call 718-648-7703.

Later in the week, the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, 405 81st Street, will hold its Purim celebration at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. With a $10 suggested donation, the event will include a costume parade, crafting, hamantaschen, singing, music and a multimedia presentation. The following day, BRJC will hold a “Megillah, Mimosas and Brunch” at 10 a.m. The event is $5 for members and $7 for non-members. For more information, call 718-836-3103.

Also in Bay Ridge, the Chabad of Bay Ridge, 373 Bay Ridge Avenue, will hold a “Purim in the Lab” event at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, which will feature a scientific Purim experience including a show and activities and a multimedia Megillah followed by a festive meal. Attendees are urged to come in costume. Cost is $15 for adults, $8 for children. For more information, visit or call 718-974-6366.

Other organizations such as the Chabad of Sheepshead Bay, the Chabad of Sea-Gate, the Chabad Jewish Center in Prospect Heights West and the Yeshivah Ohel Sarah of Flatbush will be having their own Purim festivities. For more information, visit

For those looking for a more extravagant Purim party, the Walt Whitman Theatre located at Brooklyn College, will be the scene of a “Mega Unity Purim Concert” on March 20 at 7 p.m. The concert will feature Gad Elbaz, Lips Schmeltzer, Nissim and Matt Dubb. Tickets range from $25-$150. For more information, call 718-951-4500.

Finally, the Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, will host a Purim concert with the “Neo-Hasidic Hipster” instrumental group Zusha on March 23 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 the day of the show. You must be 21 years to attend. For more information, call 718-963-3369 or visit