A week of celebrations

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What better way to begin the year than to have celebrations? Each year Josh and I pay tribute to our staff with a party to thank them, and January 14 is my beloved Stu’s birthday. So it’s another reason to gather the family and enjoy the occasion.

This year our staff party was hosted by the Douglaston Manor, the beautiful, elegant, old world converted mansion catering hall sitting grandly on a hill overlooking the golf course in Douglaston. As the DJ played the hits, I found out who are the energetic dancers on our staff. The winners were definitely the members of the classified department. I loved their style and energy, led by Smith, one of interns from South Korea.

For the last few years we have hosted college students from South Korea as interns. The students compete for the internship in their junior year. The goal is to perfect their English and learn the ways of American businesses. I feel blessed to have had each one share in my life.

This year we honored various people from both our Queens and Brooklyn publications.

Maria Gallo was named employee of the year for Queens, and in Brooklyn, Valarie Hennessy.

Maria has been with us for over 14 years, filling many roles in the company. But what has been constant is her calm, caring, intelligent presence every day. She has the courage to say good night every day that I am in the office, not afraid that I might ask her to do one more thing.

And Val has excelled at every important job we needed done in our newly-purchased newspapers in Brooklyn. She’s our “Rock of Gibraltar” in our Bay Ridge offices.

Of course our top salespeople were recognized, as well as our great event manager Maria Romero. And our editorial staffs were honored too, with special achievement awards going to Terence M. Cullen in Queens and Denise Romano and Heather J. Chin in Brooklyn.

To keep our books balanced, and the one person besides our editor, Tonia N. Cimino, that I get idea emails from 24/7, Maria Valencia was also recognized. Coming back to us, and now with a decade of design excellence, Cheryl Gallagher also received an award of achievement, as did Gary Nilsen.

Then, on Sunday, Stu got a treat to have two of his four children, daughters Mimi and Eve, help him celebrate his birthday after a challenging year. During brunch we watched the University of Michigan basketball team, ranked No. 2 in the country, play their Big Ten rival Ohio State. Sadly, after a heartbreaking three point loss there was much disappointment around the table.

So here’s to a year with many more celebrations…