It was a whirlwind of a week with early days and late nights, great food, meeting new people and paying tribute to some of my favorites.
It was a difficult adjustment on returning from Dallas, where I visited my newest little darling Addison and her spectacular brother Jonah with their cousin Blake. But the week got off to a wonderful start with dinner with my “WOW” friends. There is something special about having “girlfriends.” To have someone to talk to about family, friends and business is a combination that’s hard to duplicate.
The only sad part of our meeting is that I so desperately miss my beloved friend Gloria D’Amico. It’s so unreal to know she is no longer with us. Somehow I feel her presence almost every day. She was such a powerhouse that her spirit is not diminished. I feel that way about all the people I’ve loved so much but are not here physically. My cousin Judy, who I lost to lung cancer just over a month ago, is still with me too. Somehow it gives me strength to feel their presence.
Later in the week my son Josh organized a networking event at our newspaper printer Ken Akulin’s new bar, the Empty Mug in Bay Ridge, near our new offices on Third Avenue. We had partnered with the Bay Ridge Community Council, which brings together the multiple non-profit groups working for the betterment of this special community. Money raised at the powerful gathering also went to the Guild for Exceptional Children, a group providing quality services for people from preschool to old age who have developmental disabilities.
Bringing together people from the business, civic, political, religious, education and social worlds is what Josh and I believe to be part of our mission as community newspaper publishers. We look forward to bringing our signature events to Brooklyn beginning with our “Kings of Kings County Breakfast of Champions” on September 22. Mark your calendar and join us at the elegant El Caribe near Kings Plaza on Flatbush Avenue.
Later in the week I had dinner at a restaurant on the water in Whitestone. Due Ponti Ristorante Italiano sits on the site of the former Beechhurst Yacht Club overlooking the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges. Read about it in more detail in my restaurant profile. The delicious authentic Italian cuisine is not to be missed.
The next day I made an early-morning visit to Long Island City for a breakfast honoring Garden Works’ Sal Bacarella and Assistant Chief Diane Pizzuti, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens North, benefitting Queens Parks under the powerful direction of Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. Our parks have never looked so good, even during our fiscal crisis, thanks to her leadership.
From one good cause I went to another – a fundraiser by the Raj & Rajeshwari Foundation to raise money for my friend H. Singh’s father’s hospital in India. His dad Raj, a retired surgeon at Mercy Hospital, decided to use all his personal and physical resources to build a hospital in the town where he was born. Well that dream has come true and every year his son has a fundraiser at his Woodlands Mansion catering hall in Woodbury. Everything is donated so every penny goes to help the desperately poor. We were shown a film of the hospital and the work of Dr. Singh — it brought tears to my eyes. How blessed I am to be living in our great country, for no more generous people live on Earth than Americans.
I was blessed to end the week with my darling Blake and his beautiful sister, two-year-old Morgan, coming with Stu and me for lunch on Sunday. Morgan went home for her nap and I took Blake swimming. Little by little he’s learning how to make his way in the water. He wanted to go down the slide but I was too afraid until, at the very end, I relented. I was in the water, an arm’s length from the end of the slide, and as added insurance I asked one of the lifeguards to back me up. Brave Blake climbed the stairs and with a huge smile on his face he came sliding down into my arms. Was I relieved! It was a wonderful end to a picture perfect day.