Tag Archives: Hollis

Democrats to nominate City Council District 23 candidate on Thursday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Democrats residing in much of northeast Queens will head to the polls tomorrow, Sept. 10, to choose a nominee to fill the 23rd City Council District seat that Mark Weprin vacated earlier this year.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the 23rd District’s confines, which includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village. The primary is open to only registered Democrats in the district.

Six Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to succeed Weprin: political aide Celia Dosamantes; civic activist Bob Friedrich; former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; former Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit member Rebecca Lynch; attorney Ali Najmi; businessman Satnam Singh Parhar.

The candidates, along with Republican nominee Joe Concannon, participated in a number of debates recently held around the district, including an Aug. 5 forum that The Courier and North Shore Towers co-sponsored.

Concannon gets a chance to relax tomorrow, as he does not face a primary challenger. He will, however, face the winner of the Democratic primary in the November general election for the right to occupy the 23rd Council seat for the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

To find a polling place or for more information, call 212-VOTE-NYC or visit the city Board of Elections website.


Star of Queens: Montell Moseley, paraprofessional, DOE

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Montell Moseley

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Montell Moseley attended the St. Pascal’s Catholic elementary school in Hollis, Queens, where she met members of the rap group Run DMC. She graduated from Bayside High School in 1986, received a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and finished her education with a master’s degree in New York Institute of Technology. She is the 10th of 12 children.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND CAREER: Moseley has worked for Department of Education as paraprofessional for more than 20 years with developmentally disabled and autistic elementary school children. Before that, she spent five years working for state group homes housing developmentally disabled people, and is currently in the process of creating a nonprofit youth agency for at-risk children and juvenile first offenders.

MOTIVATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY: She said she enjoys caring for other human beings who don’t have a job or the talents to help themselves, and wants to listen to and hear them.

“I had a passion to give back, it makes me feel happy,” Moseley said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Jump-starting her grassroots effort to run for City Council. Moseley needs 2,600 signatures to fulfill her dream of running for the City Council seat in the 24th District, and is meeting the community and knocking on doors to get the support she would need as a political contender.

“They may say no, or they may say yes,” Moseley said.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS: Being a single parent. Her son, 23, overcame cancer and is blind in one eye. Moseley said her daughter, 20, had a lot of trouble dealing with the emotional effects of their situation, but as the girl got older she began to understand how hard it was for her family to cope.


Pesticide spraying across many Queens neighborhoods set for Monday night

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Trucks will spray pesticide across nearly every corner in Queens this Monday night as part of the Health Department’s ongoing efforts to kill mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus.

Weather permitting, the spraying will begin at about 8:30 p.m. Monday and continue until 6 a.m. the next morning. In the event of inclement weather, the spraying will take place on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning at the same hours.

The spraying will occur in four clusters of Queens as follows:

  • Areas of Long Island City and Sunnyside generally bounded by 47th Avenue on the north; Dutch Kills on the west; Newtown Creek on south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 43rd Street on the east.
  • Parts of Astoria and Woodside generally bounded by 20th Avenue and 30th Street on the north; 28th Avenue, 43rd Street and Newtown Road on the west; Broadway and Northern Boulevard on the south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, 30th Avenue, 78th Street, Astoria Boulevard and 75th Street on the east.
The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

  • Areas of Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood and Oakland Gardens generally bounded by 73rd Avenue on the north; 188th Street on the west; Jamaica Avenue, 199th Street, Hillside Avenue, 212th Street and the Grand Central Parkway on the south; and Springfield Boulevard on the east.
  • Parts of Briarwood, Forest Hills, Glendale, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven generally bounded by the Grand Central and Jackie Robinson parkways, Groton Street, Yellowstone and Woodhaven boulevards and Eliot Avenue on the north; Lutheran Avenue, 71st Street, Metropolitan Avenue, All Faiths Cemetery, 76th Street, Cypress Hills Cemetery and Cypress Hills Street on the west; Jamaica and 89th avenues on the south; and 169th Street on the east.
The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

Though the pesticide used during these sprayings, Anvil 10+10, poses no significant health risks to humans, the Health Department advises residents in these areas — especially those with respiratory ailments — to stay indoors while spraying occurs. Windows should be kept closed; air conditioners may be used, but the vents should be closed to prevent possible indoor exposure to the pesticides.

Any toys, clothes and outdoor equipment should be moved inside prior to spraying; anything left outside while spraying occurs should be thoroughly washed before reuse. Produce grown in backyards should be washed before being consumed or cooked.

Persons exposed to the pesticide should thoroughly wash their skin with soap and water.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s website or call 311.


Russell Simmons returns to Queens for his Keep the Peace initiative

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

Russell Simmons, a Hollis native and entrepreneur who co-founded the music label Def Jam and created the fashion line Phat Farm, came back to southeast Queens on Thursday as part of his Keep the Peace initiative.

Through his prepaid credit card company know as Rush Card, Simmons gave $25,000 to LIFE Camp, a Jamaica-based nonprofit organization that prepares youth and adults to become leaders in their community. The grants are specifically for organizations that have developed unique and successful models for reducing violence in their neighborhoods.

LIFE Camp is one of six nonprofit community organizations nationally that will receive a grant through Simmons’ program. As part of his announcement, the hip-hop mogul hosted a basketball game at I.S. 72 in Jamaica between employees at LIFE Camp and the 113th Precinct, and a public group meditation.

“I’m here because basketball is the perfect place to teach this because in basketball all of you who play ball have been in the zone,” Simmons said. “Everything is moving in slow motion and you can see the rim. That has to do with being present. For thousands of years people have meditated. I meditate with my children every morning before I take them to school and I want to teach you to meditate. We quiet the mind so we can be successful in life.”

Simmons led the gymnasium at I.S. 72 filled with summer campers in a 7-minute meditation. After the meditation, LIFE Camp employees and members of the NYPD played an intense game of basketball in front of the young crowd. New York’s Finest beat LIFE Camp 53 to 47 but the chance to meet officers face to face was the most important part of the day, according to Jahaun Atkins, a former adviser for LIFE Camp who participated in the game.

“I think it’s bringing back a good synergy,” Atkins said. “It’s getting people who didn’t know each other to communicate and have fun. Nowadays we don’t know the police. Back in the day we used to know their names.”

Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp, said that her organization has helped curb violence by providing a presence in the streets. Employees, also called Peace Keepers, wear orange shirts and engage the community in conversation. Many of these employees have been formerly incarcerated.

“If we look at the contradictions that exist in our community today, we have young people who are hurt and angry, we have people who work with young people who are hurt and angry, we have older people who are paid to keep people safe who are hurt and angry,” Ford said. “If we don’t help people to give them tools to reduce their anger and to help bring compassion…to your job, then there is no safety in our streets, there is no transformation.”

According to Ford, the organization has been successful in keeping its target area, which is in Jamaica around Sutphin and Guy R. Brewer boulevards, violence- and gun-free for 217 days.


Two struck and killed by LIRR train near Hollis station

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikipedia Commons/DanTD

A man and a woman in their 20s were fatally hit by a Long Island Rail Road train early Thursday morning just feet from the Hollis stop, an MTA spokeswoman said.

The victims, both 29, were trespassing along the tracks about 150 feet west of the station about 2:45 a.m. when a Penn Station-bound Ronkonkoma train struck the pair, according to a preliminary investigation. They were both pronounced at the scene.

There were about 100 to 200 passengers aboard at the time of the incident, the spokeswoman said. The train was close enough to the station that they were able to exit safely and transfer to another train.

There were delays on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Hempstead branches due to the investigation until about 8 a.m. Westbound service for the Queens Village and Hollis stops was also suspended.

The investigation is ongoing.


Bank employees partner with Habitat for Humanity to build home in Hollis

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

Employees from a local bank put on their hard hats on Friday to help build a home for a family in Hollis.

Partnering with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds affordable housing for low-income families, Amalgamated Bank is also giving its customers a chance to donate to the nonprofit with its “Donate the Change” campaign.

For every purchase using a bank-issued debit card that is $10 and over, the bank will donate 10 cents to Habitat for Humanity NYC. Keith Mestrich, the bank’s president and CEO, said Amalgamated Bank has a long history of providing affordable housing to New York City residents.

“Our bank for a long time has done a lot for affordable housing, really going back to the ’20s when the Parent Union, which owns our bank, probably built more affordable housing in the city than any other entity in the history of New York and so this is just part of our mission,” Mestrich said.

Habitat for Humanity NYC is working to build 12 single-family homes in Queens in neighborhoods including Hollis, Rosedale, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens and Queens Village and are working with the New York City Housing Authority to buy and repair another 15 houses in the borough.

“It’s a very unique program within New York City,” said Matthew Dunbar, vice president of government relations and advocacy for Habitat for Humanity NYC. “New York has a 32 percent homeownership rate which is extremely low. It’s about the exact opposite of the rest of the country. So our work is critical and there’s very few, if any folks currently building homeownership opportunities.”

Serina Sacasa, who lives in the Bronx with her three children, will soon become a homeowner in Laurelton. Sacasa applied to the program a year and a half ago and will be moving into her home in November.

“About a year and a half ago I decided it’s time for us to get a bigger place,” Sarcasa said. “New York City is a hard market for housing and my kids wanted a home, they wanted a backyard so I researched and found some things but they didn’t really work out. Then I found Habitat. They provide education courses so you’re not just going into the homeownership process completely blind and you also have to give a little sweat equity.”

According to Dunbar, homeowners accepted by the Habitat for Humanity program must spend 250 hours building their home and helping to build other homes purchased by Habitat for Humanity. They must also have a credit score of 650 or higher. Homeowners receive a low-interest mortgage and help with every step of the homeownership process.

The construction in Hollis will be completed sometime in the fall and another family will be able to call themselves homeowners.

“Habitat is great,” Sarcasa said. “I’m just glad that there are programs to combat the housing crisis.”


Retired NYPD captain to launch bid for open City Council seat as Republican

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

When he first campaigned for City Council two years ago, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon ran on the Reform Party line and was trounced at the polls on Election Day by the incumbent, Councilman Mark Weprin.

Now that Weprin is out of the City Council and in with the Cuomo administration, Concannon is going for the now-vacant 23rd Council District seat again, but this time as a Republican.

Concannon is scheduled to formally announce his campaign on Monday, alongside Queens GOP leaders and supporters in front of the 105th Precinct stationhouse in Queens Village.

“Over the past few weeks and months, my close friends and family have been encouraging me to take my zeal for public service and community activism to the next level,” Concannon said in a press release issued Thursday. “Many of my friends as well as the people I meet every day express their dismay with the current leadership in the City Council, our mayor and the direction this city is headed in as a whole.”

While five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination in the September primary, the Republicans appear to be unifying early around Concannon. Sources with the Queens GOP indicated earlier this week that he is the only Republican seeking the seat.

More evidence of GOP unity was noted in Concannon’s press release, which listed Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the lone Queens Republican in the city legislature — and Queens Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long as guests scheduled to attend the campaign launch.

In August 2013, Concannon launched a challenge to then-Councilman Weprin after the City Council passed into law the Community Safety Act, two bills bringing greater oversight to the NYPD and aiming to end “bias-based profiling.” Concannon opposed the act, claiming the regulations would impede police officers in their service, and received the support of numerous unions representing members of the NYPD.

Even so, Weprin was re-elected in November with 84 percent of the vote in the district covering all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Since then, Concannon has remained politically active in holding rallies calling for public support of the NYPD, most recently following the murders of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last December, and P.O. Brian Moore in Queens Village in May.

“Not since the violence and division this city faced decades ago have people felt so disconnected from their government,” Concannon said in Thursday’s press release. “I am running to restore some respect and common sense to our local government, the kind of common sense that is embarrassingly lacking in the NYC Council.”

Concannon added that he plans “to spend the next few weeks and months earning the right to be their voice and champion.”


Mark Weprin’s former City Council seat won’t be filled until November

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

Mark Weprin officially left the City Council on Sunday, June 14 — apparently three days too late for a non-partisan special election to fill his seat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed on Monday that the vacancy will be filled at the Nov. 3 general election, and that the political parties will nominate candidates for the election in the Sept. 10 primary.

According to a spokesperson for the city Board of Elections, a non-partisan special election cannot occur if the vacancy occurs between 60 and 90 days of the scheduled September primary. Had Weprin resigned before June 11, the mayor would have been obligated to call a non-partisan election.

Weprin had announced in May he would step down from the City Council to join the Cuomo administration as deputy secretary for legislative affairs. At the time, he said he would leave within two weeks, but ultimately delayed his departure.

Following the traditional election format now leads to a competitive Democratic primary among previously announced candidates including former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; Rebecca Lynch, former assistant commissioner with the New York City Community Affairs Unit; Celia Dosamantes, former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin and Rep. Grace Meng; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Sources close to the Queens County GOP identified retired NYPD Capt. Joe Concannon as a probable candidate.

Once the general election winner is certified, he or she will be sworn into office immediately and will fill out the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

Regardless of the outcome, the 23rd Council District — which includes Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village — will be without a voice in the City Council through November. Constituent services are continuing to function from the district office, and staff members are forwarding and following up on any complaints or service requests received.


Councilman Weprin to leave seat for Cuomo administration

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 12:35 p.m.

Councilman Mark Weprin gave his two weeks’ notice to the people of his district Monday, as he announced his departure from the City Council to take a job with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Weprin, 53, who has served in the 23rd Council District seat since 2010, is poised to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. He didn’t set a specific date when he would leave office, but in a statement, Weprin indicated his resignation would take effect “within the next two weeks.”

Prior to his City Council election, Weprin served for 15 years in the state Assembly, holding the seat previously held by his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Mark Weprin was elected to the City Council seat in 2009 to succeed his brother, David, who made an unsuccessful run for City Comptroller.

David Weprin then won a special election in 2010 for his brother’s and father’s former Assembly seat.

“It has been an honor to represent eastern Queens as an elected official for 21 years,” Mark Weprin said in a statement Monday morning. “It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood. I am proud to have helped the communities I have represented to continue to be wonderful places to live, work and raise a family.”

At the start of his second City Council term, Mark Weprin was elected in January 2014 as chair of the City Council’s Queens delegation. He was also named chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and serves on the Land Use, Education, Economic Development, Oversight and Investigations, and Technology committees.

As deputy secretary for legislative affairs, Mark Weprin will reportedly serve as a liaison between Cuomo and leaders of the Assembly and state Senate on various matters.

“I have known Governor Cuomo for most of my life, and he is a leader of incredible talent,” Weprin added. “I look forward to this next step in my public career.”

Once the councilman’s resignation takes effect, the mayor must call for a non-partisan special election to be held within 60 days. Each candidate must secure their own party line; the established political parties cannot nominate a candidate of their own, but they may make an endorsement.

The 23rd Council District includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

As for who may replace Weprin in the City Council, one contender has already emerged — former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik. He confirmed his interest in running for the seat in a phone interview with The Courier on Tuesday.

Other potential contenders, as reported in the New York Observer, include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; local attorney Ali Najmi; civic activist and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich; and former City Council and Assembly candidate Steve Behar.


Video released of suspects in deadly Hollis stabbing

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police have released video footage of two suspects in connection to the murder of a 39-year-old man who they say was stabbed to death on a Hollis street corner during a dispute over the weekend.

Officers found Otto Emilio Ajpacaja-Cua at 184th Street and Jamaica Avenue just before 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to authorities.

He had been stabbed in the chest and thigh after an argument had turned violent outside a restaurant on the corner, reports said. It wasn’t clear what sparked the confrontation.

EMS took Ajpacaja-Cua to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Police looking for pair in Hollis barbershop stickup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Two armed robbers busted into a Hollis barbershop earlier this month, firing a gun before taking $1,600, gold jewelry and cellphones, according to police.

The holdup, which was captured on surveillance video, took place at the Strickly Skillz Barbershop just before 2 a.m. on April 12 on Hollis Avenue, near 191st Street, law enforcement sources said.

The duo reportedly entered the business while pointing their guns at three men inside — a 33-year-old, a 29-year-old and a 23-year-old. The suspects then rifled through the victims’ pockets and took $1,600, three cellphones, gold chains and a driver’s license. While searching the victims, one of the suspects fired off his weapon but did not injure them.

After grabbing the victims’ property, the suspects then fled southbound on Hollis Avenue, according to authorities.

Police describe both suspects as black men in their 30s. One of the men was last seen wearing black pants, a black jacket and a black hat with a white symbol on the front. The second perpetrator was last seen wearing a ski mask with gloves and had long dreadlocks tied in a bunch.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Man found stabbed to death on Hollis street corner

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Police are investigating the murder of a 39-year-old man who was found stabbed on a Hollis street corner early Sunday morning.

Officers discovered Jamaica resident Otto Emilio Ajpacaja-Cua at 184th Street and Jamaica Avenue just before 4:30 a.m. after he had been stabbed in the chest and thigh, authorities said.

EMS rushed Ajpacaja-Cua to Jamaica Hospital, but he did not survive.

According to police, an argument led to the stabbing. There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.


Jamaica man convicted in shooting death of newlywed during 2011 robbery

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A 23-year-old Jamaica man was found guilty this week for his role in the deadly shooting and robbery of a young woman as she was walking home with her new husband in Hollis four years ago, prosecutors said.

Rohan R. Hankerson was convicted Wednesday of one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree robbery, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and eight counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

According to trial testimony, Rabia Mohammed, 23, and her husband of five months were walking on 204th Street near 93rd Avenue just after 8:30 p.m. on March 13, 2011, when Hankerson’s alleged accomplices — Ian R. Green, Tiyquon Hodges and Corey Brown — came up behind the couple.

Two of those men allegedly threw Mohammed’s husband to the ground and one said to her, “Give me the bag.” Brown struggled with the woman for her purse, and when she screamed Green pulled out a gun and fatally shot her in the chest. Hankerson was the getaway driver for the group, according to prosecutors.

In May 2013, Green, 21, of Queens, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter, four counts of first-degree robbery (for his involvement in four other robberies that occurred between March 4, 2011, and March 17, 2011) and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree manslaughter, according to the district attorney’s office. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Brown, 21, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in March 2014 and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Hodges, 20, of Jamaica, is currently awaiting trial on second-degree murder and other charges for his alleged involvement in the shooting incident.

Hankerson’s sentencing is set for May 6. He faces up to 49 years to life in prison.

“His actions have caused a great deal of pain and inconsolable loss to the victim’s husband and family,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “ As such, the imposition of a lengthy prison sentence is more than warranted.”


Man gets 25 years in deadly 2012 Hollis shooting

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A Hollis man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for shooting and killing a Queens Village resident in broad daylight three years ago, prosecutors announced Monday.

Paul Boatwright, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter earlier this month in the shooting death of Jerry Lodvill before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder, who imposed the determinate sentence of 25 years in prison.

According to court records and published reports, Boatwright fatally shot 30-year-old Lodvill in the head and torso in February 2012 on Hollis Avenue near 205th Street across from a playground in Hollis as the victim was walking home.

“The defendant has admitted to gunning down a man in broad daylight and will now serve a lengthy sentence in prison for this senseless shooting. Gun violence in our neighborhoods will not be tolerated,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.


New York City’s first lady joins students at Hollis school for MLK Day activities

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Dozens of determined kids and the first lady of New York City spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day making peace quilts and writing letters to American soldiers overseas.

Chirlane McCray dropped into workshops being held in the junior high school, Susan B. Anthony Academy, mingling with pre-teens and discussing King’s emphasis on education.

“We pray that you are safe on this day,” McCray read aloud from the letter she had written to  American soldiers. “As Martin Luther King said, ‘When it is darkest, that is when we see the stars.’”

In honor of King, Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation hosted workshops for schoolchildren across New York City to create peace quilts and participate in other activities. On a day when most students relaxed at home, dozens of 11-,12- and 13-year-olds came to their school in Hollis on Monday.

“I wanted to come here today instead of just sitting at home doing nothing,” said Manuel Moreno, a seventh-grader who has been with the foundation program for a year to get help with math. “I’m getting more knowledge here and they teach us how to control ourselves.”

The foundation holds after-school workshops for students, who spend their time working on homework and subjects that they have difficulty with. With school out of session on Monday, the students spent the day on activities meant to reflect King’s ideals.

McCray spoke with children as they wrote letters to soldiers, among other activities. One student asked McCray if she liked her job.

“When I get to spend my day with kids like you, it’s the best,” she said.