A trip through time to now

| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

Queens Courier/Corazon Aguirre
Queens Courier/Corazon Aguirre

Dignitaries cutting the ribbon at the Cathay Bank in Bensonhurst.

It was a trip down Memory Lane last week when Veronica Tsang, a dear friend and one of my Top Women in Business, invited me to attend her bank’s branch opening in Bensonhurst, and then I had an appointment with the new director of the New York Community Hospital on Kings Highway. The drive from one neighborhood to the other was a trip through time.

The Cathay Bank opening literally began with a boom! Firecrackers and lion dancers and musicians turned 18th Avenue into a theatre stage. It was a joyous time as the golden scissors in the dignitaries’ hands helped cut the ribbon to officially open the bank to the community. Our local political leaders joined the festivities.

Veronica’s warmth, professionalism and cheer made me and the large group feel like we were part of her family.

From Bensonhurst, I made my way to the beautiful and elegant Dyker Heights Golf Club where our Brooklyn newspapers, The Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator, held a financial and health expo.

The large and engaged crowd of avid listeners seemed spellbound by the informative speakers. As a former teacher, I’m delighted our newspapers can offer valuable information in this complicated world of health care and financial planning. I appreciated seeing our own columnist Ted General bring out his troops of AARP members and L & M Tours lend us buses to bring senior citizen center members to us.

It’s not easy to please so many people so many times but my event team does it!

From Bay Ridge, I was off to Kings Highway in Midwood. To get to New York Community Hospital, I drove through streets I knew from my childhood. It felt so strange to pass Bedford Avenue where my high school, James Madison, still sits so grandly in a neighborhood that seemed unchanged in half a century! Remarkable!

I’m sentimental and I remember New York Community Hospital as a place my mom went to whenever she was ill. It was our neighborhood hospital— small, intimate and friendly. 50 years later it’s got the same feeling and most of all, to my amazement, it has survived and is flourishing under an affiliation with Cornell Medical Center, a part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and the leadership of newly appointed CEO Barry Stern. He lives in the community and I saw his knowledge and sensitivity toward the people he is now serving.

His first project is building an expanded emergency room. He proudly showed me the plans and then took me to see where the expansion will be. It’s interesting how our communities are seeing an explosion of urgent care centers, and Mr. Stern believes his expanded emergency room will serve this purpose particularly because the hospital is surrounded by a neighborhood of private homes. With all the hospital closings, it’s remarkable that this one is offering “bread and butter” services and operating in the black.

Hopefully it will continue to thrive as the neighborhoods it serves have.

CEO Barry Stern (fourth from right) along with doctors and dignitaries at the opening of the new ICU at New York Community Hospital.


Proud Howard Beach Kiwanis members honor their own

My WOW friend Audrey Pheffer was honored for her years of service to the community by her colleagues at the Howard Beach Kiwanis club. The club supports many community organizations, as it has done for 52 years. Congratulations and appreciation went to their immediate past president, Ed Tudisco.

At their annual dinner dance on Saturday, the group also proudly recalled and recognized their members who had helped people in need after Superstorm Sandy. Also being recognized that festive evening at Roma View was a homegrown success story, Frank Sciame, who built a hugely respected construction business.

It was a joyous night seeing old friend Marie Gentile and retired judge Joe Golia and many leaders of the political and business communities, who came together to recognize these special people, and I was happy to be there to cheer for my friend.

Standing, left to right, Denise Rosenblatt; Audrey Pheffer; Ed Spaleta. Front row, Jo Ann Shapiro; Marie Gentile and Ruth Deutch.

At the Howard Beach Kiwanis Club awards dinner, from left to right, Robert LoCascio, the event’s MC; state Supreme Court Justice Augustus Agate; Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder; Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, the honoree; and Audrey’s partner, Glenn Riddell.