When I got the call from Brooklyn Borough Preside-elect Eric Adams to join his Transition Team as co-chair of the small business committee I was thrilled to be asked to serve. Being in a small business these past 28 years has taught me much and I am delighted to share my journey with others.
We had our first meeting at the majestic Brooklyn Public Library’s Grand Army Plaza branch. Having grown up in Brooklyn I always saw the building as intimidating, and have no memory of ever being inside. But up those impressive steps I went and as I walked through the very busy library hallways I saw many children engaged in different activities. Even with the library open until 9 p.m., I was impressed that it was abuzz at 5:30. I forget that, like our Queens Public Libraries, the facility does more than just lend books. The after-school programs enrich the community in so many ways. But back to the transition team meeting.
I was impressed with Eric Adams’ passionate talk about his dreams and hopes for the borough.
As he spoke, I looked around the room at the 50 or so people and was delighted to see some of my favorites.
There was my dear friend Denise Arbesu, who works for Citibank but has taken on the chairmanship of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. She is the first woman to hold this position in the Chamber’s 99-year history and the first Latino. Her husband, TD Bank’s president Peter Meyer, was also selected to serve on the transition team.
Sitting next to me was Carlo Scissura, who works for Denise as the president and CEO of the Chamber. My hero at CUNY, Jay Hershenson, was also there. Everyone admires Jay for his extraordinary hard work and knowledge of the CUNY system.
I was also delighted to see old friend Bob Hettenbach, now the head of PSCH, a large provider of services for people with disabilities. Then there was Andrew Kimball, who was enormously successful in spearheading the development of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was one of our Rising Stars. He is the CEO of Industry City in Sunset Park. And there was the leader of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the handsome Tucker Reed. He stole away the talented Laurel Brown, who recently joined his staff. She had successfully run the BID in Jamaica.
There were also many people sitting in the room whose lives have touched mine and are leaders in their fields. It is a top-tier team of advisors for a man whose destiny will affect all of ours. We wish him the greatest success and I for one will be his biggest cheerleader!
LIC Flea reopens
My son Josh and daughter Elizabeth have been working feverishly to reopen the LIC Flea as an indoor shopping and dining experience for the community. And it was an enormous success! After a launch party shared with the LIC Partnership, the market opened this weekend — and the crowds came!
The many remarkable vendors had smiles on their faces as I walked around the market perusing their wares.
They were doing business and some actually sold out! The food vendors had people lined up and the exceptional band and singer delighted everyone in the former warehouse.
Then there was the sweetest Santa, who, over the course of the Market’s three weeks, will be taking photos with the youngsters who come to visit. My grandson, four-year-old Jonah, ran to sit on his lap, but his little sister Addison ran away in tears!
Their mom, Elizabeth, had been working from 8 a.m. and so I had the joy on Sunday of watching over them. I don’t know who had more fun, me or them!
We went to Chuck E. Cheese in Long Island City before going to the market. What pure delight they experienced. I hadn’t been to one since Blake’s birthday years ago. Jonah and Addie never lost the smile on their faces. What more can a grandma want?!
The whole family went to the LIC Flea Holiday Market: my daughters Samantha and Elizabeth, daughter-in-law Tracey, and Addison, Hudson, Morgan and Jonah
El Correo celebrates 10 years
It was after the Census figures came out more than 10 years ago that I asked a focus group of friends from all over Latin America and Spain to come to my office.
I had recognized the stunning results of the Census showed that that community had become the second largest demographic in our city.
Although many people think the Asian community is largest in Queens, the facts show that the Caucasians are the largest, followed by the Hispanics who are the fastest growing group.
I asked the people assembled around my conference table if they felt their community could benefit from a newspaper that would bring them news of Queens in Spanish. They all agreed that their community needed and wanted to have the information and so we created El Correo, which has successfully grown over these 10 years.
We celebrated its growth with a wonderful, powerful, fun-filled evening celebration hosted by Steve Poliseno at his new penthouse ballroom, inside the Astoria Sports Club. There was dancing for hours and I am so grateful to my El Correo team, led by Maria Romero and editor Karmina Lopez, for making the event a smashing success. I am so proud of what they have accomplished. To many more years of service to the dynamic Hispanic communities in Brooklyn and Queens!
Eduardo Cerchiara, Robinson Velasco, Maria Romero, Karmina Lopez, Pablo Romano and the owner of Astoria Complex Catering Hall, Steve Poliseno