Tag Archives: Bayside

This Bayside resident could change the way Americans drink coffee 


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre and courtesy of Daniel Grosfeld 

One Bayside man’s hot idea may revolutionize the way people drink coffee in America.

After five years and more than $2 million, Daniel Grosfeld is hoping to launch his hot canned coffee product, aptly named the HotShot, this year and recently began a Kickstarter page to raise $100,000 to cover final costs.

Hot canned coffee is already a thriving multibillion dollar industry in Japan, where vending machines carry the product, but it hasn’t taken off in the United States yet. Although some beverage companies have tried to import the Japanese product, it turned out to be too small and not hot enough for Americans, Grosfeld said.

It took Grosfeld about two and a half years to perfect the formula for a few flavors of his HotShot. His formula comes from 100 percent Arabica beans grown in Indonesia, but the canned coffee is made in America.

Together with his coffee, Grosfeld is also going to launch the HotBox, essentially a hot fridge that always keeps the coffee at 140 degrees, which Grosfeld says is the perfect temperature for coffee. To protect consumers from the heated metal cans, his company also created an insulated label.

He hopes the products will resonate with Americans because the coffee is delivered instantly hot in the HotBox.

“It’s not some crazy new drink that I have to teach people about like coconut water,” Grosfeld said. “At the end of the day it’s just coffee. It’s just a new delivery mechanism.”

Grosfeld came up with the idea after he couldn’t find coffee one early morning in Japan in 2009. As a man who drinks anywhere from three to six cups of coffee a day, eventually he found a vending machine and figured cold coffee would have to suffice. But to his surprise the can came out hot and he instantly thought, “Why isn’t this in America?”

For $79, Kickstarter sponsors will be able to get a HotBox that holds nine cans, along with 12 HotShot cans in multiple flavors: espresso, French vanilla, caramel and hot chocolate. For more money they can get more HotShot cans or more HotBoxes. So far Grosfeld has already raised more than $8,000 in two weeks on Kickstarter.

The HotBox comes in a range of sizes, including the nine-can HotBox for home use and larger machines that hold 36, 72 and 108 cans. Grosfeld envisions selling the larger machines to grocery and department stores, stadiums and movie theaters, so they can sell the cans.

Although he couldn’t say which yet, he is already in negotiation with major companies that want to put the HotShot in their stores and could do so by September when it launches. Grosfeld said he can’t wait until everyone gets to drink the product.

“I’ve been dreaming about that day for a long time,” he said. “My dream is to see it everywhere. To see it in stores, and to see people enjoy it.”

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Bayside boxer brings home Golden Gloves


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of JP Yim

One young boxer from Bayside has earned one of boxing’s most prestigious amateur awards, the Daily News Golden Gloves.

Stylianos Kalamaras, 25, defeated five competitors over the eight-week event to capture his first Light Heavyweight Golden Gloves championship during the 88th annual tournament.

“I had one of the most impressive records in the tournament,” Kalamaras said. “I had two TKOs [technical knockouts], there was only one other guy to have that. In the finals, I was the only guy to knock somebody down to the canvas in this tournament.”

In the finals on April 2, Kalamaras faced off against Franklin Johnson in the 178-pound novice division at the Barclays Center.

“I felt confident I would take the tournament,” Kalamaras said.

This wasn’t Kalamaras’ first time at the Golden Gloves, having competed back in 2011, where he lost by decision in the semifinals.

“I feel should have won that fight. I knocked that guy down, too,” Kalamaras said. “I hurt him and they gave him the decision.”

In 2013, Kalamaras won the New York Metro Championship and was victorious in the 31st annual Battle of the Badges charity event that was held in Madison Square Garden. Kalamaras fought for the FDNY and defeated the NYPD’s representative to win the title belt.

“I think that was my best fight to date,” Kalamaras said of the Battle of the Badges fight. “I knocked the guy out. It was exciting, especially since it was my first time really fighting in front of a lot of people like that in boxing at Madison Square Garden.”

Kalamaras has been boxing since the age of 16, “but now in the past two years I’ve been taking it seriously,” he said. Prior to boxing, he earned awards in judo.

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

“My father put me in judo when I was 8 years old and I was really good in judo,” Kalamaras said. “I was a three-time junior Olympic gold medalist, five-time national champion, six-time international champion. I’ve been all over the world.”

The amateur boxer is also a full-time student at Queens College where he is studying exercise science and nutrition, in hopes of getting into a program in the field of physical therapy. Kalamaras hopes to start a career in training and help other athletes as a physical therapist.

He is a Navy reservist as well, having enlisted in 2010 in the Navy’s construction unit as an engineer and is currently a Second Class Petty Officer.

Kalamaras is now looking to earn a national ranking in boxing and eventually try out for either the American or Greek teams in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Once he gains more experience and exposure, the young, amateur boxer wants to turn professional.

“My goal is to … get sponsored so I could really focus on doing this full time,” Kalamaras said. “I don’t want to drop school either because school is always important, too.”

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Bayside actor muscles in on Hollywood


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Peter Gaudio

Bayside actor Peter Gaudio is keeping himself quite busy these days both on and off the screen.

Gaudio has a starring role in the upcoming Steve Rahaman film “Snitches,” which according to IMDb is scheduled to premiere in 2016. Starring Chris Victor and Daniel O’Shea, the movie tells the story of a New York City crime boss undermined by an associate working with corrupt police officers to bring the syndicate down.

The Bayside resident and Corona native was most recently featured in the boxing film “Back in the Day,” starring Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Michael Madsen. He’s also part of “Take it Back,” a mob TV drama currently in production.

But away from the production sets, Gaudio showcases his comedic and singing talents during the “Wiseguys and Women of Comedy” act playing weekly at Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck.

An active bodybuilder and former Mr. New York City, Gaudio got his first break on the screen in the 1992 film “A Bronx Tale” starring Chazz Palmentieri and Robert DeNiro, who also directed. Gaudio said DeNiro selected him in an open audition for one of many background roles in the film shot on location in Astoria.

Over the years, he worked to refine his acting craft, studying with many renowned acting coaches in New York City including the late actor William Hickey and Alice Spivak.

Those lessons paid off for Gaudio, as he’s worked in dozens of films and television shows based in New York and had a recurring role in the off-Broadway murder-mystery show “Murdered by the Mob.” Even so, there’s only one role more important in his life.

“Working with talented artists is living a dream, but the best role I play each and every day is being the greatest father I can be to my 10-year-old daughter Petrina,” he said.

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64-year-old man dies in LIE car crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507_L_300_C_Y-624x4161

A 64-year-old man was killed on the Long Island Expressway Thursday afternoon when his car slammed into an exit ramp divider before crashing into another vehicle, police said.

The incident happened just after 1 p.m. on the eastbound side of the roadway at the exit for the Douglaston Parkway near Oakland Gardens.

As the driver approached the exit, his Hyundai Sonata veered to the right and struck a barrier, authorities said. His car then veered back onto the expressway where it hit a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

EMS took the Hyundai’s driver, who wasn’t immediately identified by police, to North Shore University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Jeep was uninjured.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Bayside students put their creative problem-solving skills to the test


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo Anthony Giudice

Two Bayside schools are each sending two teams to the New York State Odyssey of the Mind Association State Tournament for a chance to advance to the world finals in Michigan later this year.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Students use their creativity to solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting their interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competitions on local, state and world levels. Thousands of teams from all around the U.S. and from 25 countries participate in the program.

The teams vying for a spot in the finals are the fourth- and fifth-grade teams from P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens and the sixth- and seventh-grade teams from Nathaniel Hawthorne M.S. 74. All four teams finished in either first or second place in their divisions during the Regional Tournament, which was held on March 7 in Wantagh, Long Island, to make it to the state level.

On Thursday, the students showed their creative problem-solving skills in front of faculty, family members and classmates in P.S. 203’s auditorium ahead of the state tournament.

The fourth- and seventh-grade teams took on the challenge of “Pandora’s Box,” where they had to put a “video game spin” on the Greek myth. Students were required to include a prologue that depicts the original story of Pandora’s Box; three characters that represent different evils that escaped the box; and a power meter representing the gamer’s health bar.

The fifth- and sixth-grade teams each chose the “Silent Movie” problem. In this scenario, the students had to create and present their very own silent film. There had to be a director character, a film critic and a humorous villain character that commits three silly acts of villainy. The characters in the film were not allowed to speak; instead, they used creatively displayed subtitles, much like classic silent movies.

Each team came up with their original idea, created the sets and costumes for the performance and put on the show all on their own, as per the rules of the competition.

“We are not allowed to help them at all, we just guide them,” said Katerina Stravropoulos, a teacher for the fifth-grade team at P.S. 203. “Through probing we get them to solve the problems.”

This year’s state tournament will be held on April 11 at Binghamton University.

“I’m very optimistic for my team,” Stravropoulos said of her team’s chances in the state tournament. “The competition is tough, but we will do our best.”

Jarett Glickman, a member of the M.S. 74 seventh-grade team, and former member of P.S. 203’s team that went to the World Finals in 2013, said, “The world finals was really fun. I hope we can make it again this year.”

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Bayside Historical Society looking to bring agriculture program to Fort Totten


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Bayside Historical Society (BHS) is looking for a few good families to join its upstart community-supported agriculture (CSA) program based at the Castle at Fort Totten.

According to Frannie Budynek, a BHS trustee, the society seeks at least 50 shareholders to register with the CSA by no later than Wednesday, April 15, in order to get the program off the ground for the growing season.

In a CSA, families and individuals purchase shares in a farm within 250 miles of the community. Many of the CSAs in New York City are aligned with farms based on Long Island’s North Fork.

Farmers use the money collected to grow produce and, from June through late November, deliver their harvest to the shareholders. The produce includes leafy greens and radishes in the spring; tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in the summer; and various types of squash in the fall.

CSA shares typically run about $30 per week per family, but Budynek said each shareholder gets more than their money’s worth in produce. Shares can also be divided among two families to help allay the costs and share the food wealth.

“The farmers are very eclectic. They try to grow a very diverse number of products,” Budynek said. “It’s like you have your own personal farmer.”

She added that the CSA program is environmentally friendly, as each farm grows its produce organically with limited pesticide use, and helps keep the farming industry in New York State economically viable.

“It helps to support local farmers and protect farmland,” Budynek said. “It keeps them farms instead of turning them into subdivisions so people can make a living through agriculture.”

She hopes to hold cooking demonstrations and recipe exchanges during weekly produce distribution at the Castle at Fort Totten. The BHS is also seeking volunteers to help coordinate one pick-up shift each month for about three to four hours.

To join the CSA or for more information, call 718-352-1548 or email info@baysidehistorical.org.

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Volunteers wanted for Relay for Life events in Queens this spring


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File Photo

Those looking to put their best feet forward in the fight against cancer are encouraged to join Relay for Life events scheduled across Queens in May and June.

The relays benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) and include teams of volunteers from families, businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, civic associations and other groups walking or running laps around a course to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.

New York City played host to 27 Relay for Life events last year, raising more than $1.4 million combined, a goal the ACS hopes to eclipse in this year’s relay events.

“The Relay for Life movement unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action to finish the fight once and for all,” ACS Relay for Life Senior Manager Ben Messner said. “Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. Each new team that registers brings us one step closer to saving more lives.”

Each Relay for Life kicks off with the “Survivors’ Lap,” as local cancer survivors take the first steps on the course, symbolizing their resiliency and strength. Once the survivors complete their circuit, the fundraising teams take the track; at least one member of each team must be on the track for the relay’s duration, into the night and following morning.

Team members camp out trackside and, when not on the course, get to rest and enjoy games, music and entertainment.

After nightfall, volunteers hold a luminaria lighting ceremony, when candles lining the course are lit in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who died of its complications.

The Relay for Life for the communities of Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways takes place on Saturday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning at the Broad Channel Athletic Club, located at 125 Cross Bay Blvd. For more information, contact Carol Palacio at 631-379-4924 or carol.palacio@cancer.org.

Bayside will hold its Relay for Life on Saturday, June 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning in Alley Pond Park. Those interested in participating can contact Marlene Medina at 646-318-7636 or marlene.medina@cancer.org for additional information.

One week later, the Howard Beach Relay for Life will kick off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, located on 165th Avenue near 83rd Street. To learn more, contact Meghan Neary at 631-300-3458 or meaghan.neary@cancer.org.

Lastly, the Middle Village Relay for Life will take place two weeks later on Saturday, June 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning at Juniper Valley Park’s Brennan Field, located off the corner of 71st Street and Lutheran Avenue. Contact Marlene Medina as the previously listed email and phone number.

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More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.

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Bayside Village BID to hold April 14 hearing on local parking woes


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Those having a hard time finding parking near Bayside’s Bell Boulevard can vent their frustrations at a special public hearing the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) will hold on the topic on Tuesday, April 14.

Residents, drivers and merchants alike are invited to attend the session scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at Bayside United Methodist Church, located at 38-20 Bell Blvd.

The Bayside Village BID, with the assistance of Councilman Paul Vallone, recently hired an engineering firm to examine parking problems in the area around Bell Boulevard and form potential short- and long-term solutions. It is reportedly part of a revived attempt to fix parking problems in the area launched more than a decade ago.

In a letter, Bayside Village BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair said that attendees will learn information on some of the “best practices from across the region.” BID members and residents can also share their ideas and input on how to ease the pain for all drivers.

Meanwhile, Sclair urged local businesses to sign a pledge that they would keep spots in front of their shops free as much as possible.

“Many of the business owners signed a pledge that they and their workers would not park on Bell Boulevard in the metered spots that are designed for customers,” Sclair wrote. “We understand that you may need to use the parking in front of your business for pickups and deliveries. The pledge is not meant to discourage you from using the space in front of your store for business operations, but once you are done, please move your car to the surrounding side streets.”

BID members who cannot attend the April 14 meeting may schedule one-on-one consultations regarding the plan earlier that day from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the BID’s office located at 213-39 39th Ave., Suite 310.

For more information, click here or call 718-423-2434.

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Bayside students stay fit to help feed children in Africa


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Bayside elementary school are staying fit while also helping to save lives.

Since the beginning of March, 268 students, 40 teachers and other faculty members at P.S. 41, located at 214-43 35th Ave., have been taking part in UNICEF’s Kid Power program which encourages students to be more active, while also feeding children in Africa.

During the program, the students wear Kid Power Bands, which measure their steps and unlock Kid Power Points, which are later converted to funds that go toward food packets.

At P.S. 41, which is one of 16 New York City schools participating in the program, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students take part in the challenge and have been racking up points.

“The essence of it is that the more that they exercise and the more that they’re active, the more packets are being sent to children to eat,” said Sari Latto, principal at P.S. 41. “It’s a win-win. We get healthier children, and those [other] children can live because they are being fed. So the kids are very excited about it.”

Before receiving their blue power bands, the students learned about the program. They received lessons on poverty conditions in other countries, saw a video of malnourished children and the conditions they live in, and were told the importance of them receiving the food.

Each student was then given a band to wear on his or her wrist, and teachers were provided with tablets that sync with the bands to tally up points for the classes.

“It’s extraordinary. The children are excited about moving more and being healthy, they recognize the value of that, they feel better, they like it,” Latto said. “They are realizing that, as young as they are, they are able to do something for other children in the world so that they can live. And that’s a very empowering feeling for a child.”

Out of the classes participating from P.S. 41, one third-grade class has stood out with a total of 4,503,745 steps, equaling 769 food packets, as of Monday.

With their numbers, Class 3205, taught by Cindy Wong and Helen Kim, reached the highest points in all of the city schools and won a trip to see the New York Knicks practice later in April.

“It’s wonderful and very exciting for us and it’s great that we’re able, through this organization, to teach them how to do good now and in the future,” Wong said. “It’s motivating a lot of them to keep active.”

To get the points, the students have done sports such as soccer and basketball, danced in Zumba classes, and also taken part in gym activities.

For the third-grade students participating in the program, it is more than just taking home the grand prize; they also want to make a difference.

“It’s not just about winning in the city, it’s actually about helping more kids,” said 8-year-old Oliver.

His classmate, 9-year-old Cian, also said that even though it’s great that the class was the top in the city and will be able to see the Knicks, the important part was knowing they helped feed the children in Africa.

“It’s really good just to help out children,” he said.

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City begins $2.1 million storm sewer installation in Glen Oaks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Department of Environmental Protection/Flickr 

To alleviate issues with flooding in Glen Oaks, the city has begun working on a $2.1 million project to install nearly a half-mile of new storm sewers in the area.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is funding the project, which in addition to the storm sewers, includes the installation of 31 street-level catch basins and 19 manholes.

The DEP will also replace nearly a half-mile of distribution water mains so the community will be able to receive high-quality drinking water for years to come. The entire project is expected to be completed by the summer.

“Every day, my district office receives complaints about ponding and flooding on our city streets, causing a multitude of problems for motorists, pedestrians and homeowners,” state Sen. Tony Avella said. “By investing in new storm sewers, catch basins and water mains, we can reduce flooding and improve the quality of drinking water for Glen Oaks residents.”

The storm sewer installation work is taking place along Elkmont Avenue from 250th Street to 252nd Street and on 251st Street from Elkmont Avenue to Union Turnpike. Water collected in the newly installed infrastructure will drain into an existing 72-inch storm sewer on Union Turnpike.

The DEP is also working on a much larger project to upgrade sewers and water mains in Bayside.

This project, which costs $20 million and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016, will add nearly 4.3 miles of water mains to the area’s distribution system.

The city agency hopes this move will ensure a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water for the northeast Queens neighborhood.

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Nick Cannon presents new children’s book at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

“Neon Aliens” may not have really eaten Nick Cannon’s homework when he was younger but that didn’t stop him from using it as an excuse for one of his teachers. And just as stories like that inspired him to release his new children’s poetry book, so did his experience with the youngsters at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside.

So much so that he even released the novel at the hospital on Monday to some of those who were an inspiration to him.

The book, “Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems,” was inspired by Cannon’s desire to combine the worlds of poetry and hip-hop and his previous visit to the medical facility. He has become so inspired by the kids that he is also a member of the hospital’s board.

“I visited a few years ago and hanging out with the kids really touched me,” he said, speaking at St. Mary’s back in October of 2014. “Now I’m officially Dr. Cannon on the board.”

Cannon greeted the crowd of children at the hospital on Monday and told them how inspired he was by each and every one of them. He read excerpts from his new book and gave each child in attendance a free copy.

NICK_CANNON4

Danielle Monaro, a co-host on Z-100’s “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” was there to introduce Cannon. She even helped the children play a game with him by having them shout out words which Cannon then had to freestyle to.

The poems cover a range of kid-friendly topics and even have a number of illustrations created by Cannon himself. He mentioned that several of the poems he wrote were inspired by the “courageous young patients,” at the hospital.

At the end of the release, Cannon accepted from St. Mary’s a plaque inscribed with one of its patients’ poems.

DANIELLE_MANERO

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Award-winning Queens author Paul Volponi teaches Cardozo students, releases new book


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Freshman students in a Benjamin Cardozo High School English class got a special visit from an author who they may not be able to write off from their memories.

Award-winning Queens author Paul Volponi, who is known for his novel “Black and White” about the racial disparities of the city’s justice system, taught the class for three sessions on March 9, 11 and 13.

The appearances coincided with the release of Volponi’s newest novel this week, called “Game Seven,” which is based on the story of a young Cuban baseball player’s dream to play in the MLB.

In his three-day residency at Cardozo, Volponi taught students writing skills through fun activities, such as using popular names like Peter Parker and Fred Flintstone to show how alliteration makes names more memorable. He also showed the youngsters how to add color and characterization to make dialogue more exciting.

“He is the first author that I have met, and I like him,” said freshman Mustak Azad. “He seemed pretty interesting and he made a really great impression on me.”

Volponi 3

Volponi’s novel “Black and White” was the International Reading Association’s 2006 Young Adult Novel of the Year. He grew up in Queens and is a product of the public school system as a graduate of Aviation High School in Long Island City.

He has taught students for years, but mostly outside of New York, because the Department of Education (DOE) doesn’t “prioritize” bringing authors to teach kids in its budget as much as other states do, he said.

“I connect with kids all over the country and unfortunately I do more kids in Missouri, Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio than I do in New York City,” Volponi said.

The program to have Volponi teach was funded through a grant that classroom veteran teacher Nancy Orens wrote and received from the DOE.

Volponi 2

Besides writing tips, Volponi also taught the children how to go about starting their first books and writing letters to publishers to pitch their ideas. Volponi also signed and gave away copies of some of his old books, as well as a copy of “Game Seven.”

Orens believes overall the experience will be a good memory for the students.

“Getting feedback from a professional author, and participating in a workshop, which they know their other friends didn’t have an opportunity to do, they now have a memory that they can carry with them through high school,” Orens said.

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Bayside BID tackles area’s parking problem


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

There’s a lack of parking on Bell Boulevard and one group is trying to solve that problem.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID), which supports hundreds of businesses along Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue, is launching a major project that will take at least half a decade to complete and require participation from various city organizations and local community members.

The main focus will be on alleviating the high demand for parking on Bell Boulevard, Bayside’s commercial area. The project is something that Lyle Sclair, the BID’s executive director, has wanted to start since at least last year.

“We’re kicking the project into high gear,” he said. “Parking has always been an issue on Bell. It’s a desirable destination to come to.”

With community support, the long-term goal will be the conversion of a city-owned lot on the corner of 41st Avenue and 214th Place into a multilevel parking garage. City Councilman Paul Vallone provided $20,000 last year for the conversion and since then Sclair has expanded the project’s goals.

The first phase of the project will begin this Thursday when Sclair will send people out on the streets to count the amount of parking spots available along the boulevard and to identify areas that have the most congestion.

“Bayside has both commuter and residential parking, and we want to see how they interact with each other to make parking a problem in the neighborhood,” Sclair said.

For now, the initiative is being funded through a $20,000 grant provided by Vallone, but Sclair plans to eventually get the city to fund a major project that will increase the supply of parking. And a firm, VHB, has been hired to put plans together.

The firm will look at other communities in Long Island that have solved their parking problems, since the layout of those areas resembles that of Bayside more than most New York City neighborhoods that have access to trains.

“It is no secret that the popularity of this commercial hub makes parking difficult for those commuting via the Long Island Rail Road and customers frequenting stores,” Vallone said last year. “Potentially expanding the municipal parking lot on 41st Avenue could greatly alleviate parking concerns and ensure continued success for the businesses that call Bell Boulevard home.”

Sclair believes that they will ultimately implement several solutions from short-term tinkering, such as free valet services on parts of Bell Boulevard, to more long-term goals like building a parking garage.

“There’s only so much you can do with tweaking around the edges,” Sclair said. “The big thing is increasing the supply.”

But Sclair doesn’t want the city to dictate the terms. On April 14, the BID is holding a community meeting at the Bayside Methodist Church at 7 p.m. to gauge the public’s interests and concerns.

“We’re here to understand these localized issues and work with the city to come up with solutions,” Sclair said. “We have everybody on board and we want to have everyone in the conversation as early as possible.”

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Inclusive Queens soccer program teaches kids skills beyond the field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Soccer Kids NYC

BY ANGELA MATUA

A new soccer program for children in Queens hopes to have kids setting goals on and off the field.

Soccer Kids NYC was created by Noe Canales in September 2014 after he noticed that other programs did not focus on teaching lessons that could translate to all aspects of a child’s life.

Canales said that Soccer Kids NYC strives to teach not only the fundamentals of soccer but also skills that children can utilize off the field like teamwork, respect and perseverance.

Soccer Kids NYC differs from other programs in several ways. Canales, who is a certified special education teacher, integrates children with special needs into all classes. He hopes to remove the stigma that families of special needs children typically deal with.

“Soccer Kids NYC wants to help in getting rid of that pervasive thinking,” Canales said of the three-month course that costs $179. “Our mission cuts across all lines; our program is for children with special needs and typically developing children. We don’t believe in labels except for our kids’ names.”

He believes this inclusiveness contributes to the program’s 99 percent retention rate. The coaches at Soccer Kids NYC also strive to make their classes affordable for everyone, he said. Though children typically attend classes once a week, students are encouraged to join other classes if there is available space at no extra cost. They also provide a refund to all families who are not satisfied with the program.

Scouting the right coaches is important for Canales, who is also a teacher at TheraCare Preschool Services, a preschool in Rego Park that accommodates children with and without special needs. Coaches are trained extensively until they are ready to lead a class. This approach is the reason he can provide a quality program, he said.

“My experience with larger programs has been that they will first find a location to expand and then work on hiring and staffing those classes with a coach,” Canales said. “This approach hinders the quality of a program as many times these coaches are not fully trained to lead a class and consequently, our kids get the short end of the stick.”

Every season, parents are encouraged to leave feedback for the coaches. Canales said they have not received any negative feedback yet, but the coaches still come together to reflect on ways to make the program better.

The feedback has been all amazing,” Canales said. “This is something that we feel extremely proud of.”

Classes are taught in Bayside, Woodhaven, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Flushing, Kew Gardens and other parts of Queens. Canales said they are not in a rush to expand but would like to eventually teach classes in other parts of Queens and New York.

 

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