Tag Archives: Juniper Park Civic Association

Free Juniper Valley Park concert series lineup announced


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Juniper Park Civic Association

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village will be rocking this summer with four free concerts as part of the 2015 Juniper Valley Park Summer Concert Series.

The concert series kicks off on July 14 with “Swing Night,” featuring music from the Gerard Carelli Orchestra (GCO). Gerard Carelli, a trombonist and vocalist, leads the GCO, which is one of New York’s most popular ensembles. The GCO has performed at many special events including the late actor Christopher Reeve’s 50th birthday; fundraisers hosted by former president Bill Clinton; and parties for celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and restaurateur Drew Nieporent of Tribeca Grill and Nobu.

Carelli has also toured the world with famous musicians such as Ray Charles, and has two CDs to his name.

The three other free concerts in the series will be: Italian Night on July 21, featuring music from Elio Scaccio and Tony Valente Trio; ’80s Tribute Night on July 28, featuring the White Wedding Band playing popular hits from the 1980s; and, on Aug. 4, the NYPD Night Out Against Crime, where the band Generations will be playing classic rock ‘n’ roll music.

The 2015 Juniper Valley Park Free Summer Concert Series is sponsored by NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA). Co-sponsors include the Juniper Valley Park Conservancy, Crifasi Real Estate, O’Neill’s Restaurant, Queensboro UNICO and Rep.Grace Meng.

All concerts are free to the public and begin at 7 p.m. Concertgoers are invited to bring their own lawn chairs to comfortably view each performance.

Concert schedule and acts subject to change. For latest concert information and weather updates, call 718-651-5865 or visit the JPCA website.

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In Middle Village, civic urged to help find CURES for rail waste woes


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Time/Photo by Anthony Giudice

They’re not giving up the fight.

The leader of a coalition aimed at changing the way waste is shipped by rail through Glendale and Middle Village urged residents at Thursday’s Juniper Park Civic Association meeting in Middle Village to join them in their cause.

Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), informed those in attendance at Our Lady of Hope School of the group’s efforts to convince state lawmakers to ensure that any train cars carrying waste through local rail lines are capped to prevent residents from being exposed to dust and foul odors.

“We have now been working very hard on this issue, asking our electeds to push back hard, and [on Wednesday] we got a new answer,” Parisen said. “And the answer is, I don’t think we need to convince the state anymore that it has to be done. They have come and said, ‘We are going to entertain some type of closure for these rail cars.’”

Parisen explained that One World Recycling, a partner company in Tunnel Hill Partners whose rail cars travel through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale and Middle Village, plans to ship bales of household waste in container cars topped with construction and demolition (C&D) debris. This combination of trash would then be considered municipal solid waste (MSW) and would be covered with a lid.

“If it’s just construction and demolition debris, which is what we see, there’s not going to be any sort of a seal,” Parisen said.

The community has until July 10 to comment on the One World Recycling permit while it is still in the draft stage.

Another partner in Tunnel Hill Partners, Coastal Distribution, wants to try three different options of covering their waste. They have a permit in the draft stage, which states that the options include using a synthetic tarp cover, a mineral spray or a flexible lid, according to Parisen.

“What they want to do is give them the permit, and then test this out, test each one of these options out and have our communities be the guinea pigs,” Parisen explained. “What CURES has been advocating from the very beginning is the total sealing of all rail cars containing any sort of waste. So this is totally unacceptable. We are not guinea pigs. None of this is going to seal odors, or dust, or prohibit vectors.”

Parisen urged the community to call and write letters to Joseph Martens, commissioner of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), informing him that they will not accept anything less than hard lid coverage on all types of waste traveling in rail cars.

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Addabbo talks homeless shelter at Middle Village meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

After reports surfaced of the emergency homeless shelter located at the former Pan American Hotel being infested with rats, members of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) continue to voice their concerns over the planned opening of a homeless shelter in Glendale.

During the April 30 JPCA meeting in Middle Village, president Robert Holden asked state Senator Joseph Addabbo to write a letter to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, asking him not to sign any contracts with Samaritan Village. The nonprofit group operates the Pan American emergency shelter and has a pending contract to operate a shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

“Can you write us a letter and say, with all the problems with Samaritan Village, we need them to back off and don’t expand into other facilities?” Holden asked Addabbo, adding that there would be “rats and other things” at the proposed Cooper Avenue shelter — just like in the Pan Am shelter. “Certainly they don’t deserve to run any facility.”

Addabbo responded that he will have a personal conversation with Stringer about the proposed Glendale shelter.

“This is what my community needs, I don’t think you should sign it,” Addabbo said he would tell Stringer. “I think it’s a wrong road going down with Samaritan Village.”

Addabbo also mentioned a town hall meeting last May in which the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said no families would be put into the Pan Am Hotel location due to the fact that there were no kitchens in the rooms where they wanted families to live.

“And about four weeks later, what do you know, families are in there,” Addabbo said. “It just confirmed for me that you cannot trust Samaritan Village, you cannot trust Department of Homeless Services.”

Holden assured those in attendance that their fighting, largely conducted in partnership with the Glendale Middle Village Coalition, has not gone unheard. The opening of the shelter has been delayed due to their continuing fight.

“We’ve been winning rounds, by the way,” Holden said. “The reason this thing hasn’t gone forward is because the coalition has been battling; every time they put something in with the Department of Buildings, we challenge it.”

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Juniper Valley Park has second most playground injury claims in city: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village has cost taxpayers at least about $300,000 over the last decade due to personal injuries claims, according to a new report.

The green space tied for second place for playground-related personal injury claims filed against the city from 2005 to 2014, which cost more than $20.6 million citywide, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Stringer’s analysis also found that annual claims in the city rose 53 percent from just 45 incidents in 2005 to 69 last year.

Of the 577 park- and playground-related injury claims over the decade, 111 accidents occurred in Queens. Brooklyn led the city in playground injuries with 209 accidents occurring in the last decade.

Juniper Valley Park had six injury claims filed against the city over the decade for accidents related to missing matting, holes and defective swings. Five of those claims recorded a combined $297,500, according to Stringer’s analysis. The amount of one was not given in the report.

Local residents say Juniper has a numerous issues, including holes, defective equipment, cracks and other trip hazards, and that the Parks Department neglects to take action and fix the park, even though problems have been reported.

For example, Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, emphasized the need to fix netting at the park’s batting cages, where high school children play. The netting is used to protect balls from being hit outside the field area, but has been broken since Hurricane Sandy.

Holden has complained about it for years but still hasn’t seen a fix.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lawsuits were with somebody getting hit with a ball,” Holden said. “Perhaps if it were their own money, like let’s say it would come out of department leaders’ paychecks, they would fix it.”

The park is receiving $2.5 million, allocated by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, for improvements to the track, but Holden said the fixes have been long overdue.

Citywide, parks have recorded injury claims for a range of problems, include protruding nails, debris, defective park equipment and improper surfacing — including cracked grounds, holes and missing matting.

In an attempt to reduce the city’s bill over the next 10 years and protect children, Stringer sent a letter to the Parks Department asking to increase efforts to make certain that parks are safe.

“With claims at their highest point in a decade, it’s clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation must find ways to improve safety in our city’s playgrounds,” Stringer said. “We owe it to our kids to adopt best practices for safety and install state-of-the-art equipment in our playgrounds that reduces the potential for injuries.”

Click here to see a full map of all the claims.

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Group against proposed Glendale homeless shelter hosts first meeting


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Hundreds of residents came out Wednesday evening to the first meeting of the Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition, a group formed to combat a proposed homeless shelter in a former warehouse on Cooper Avenue.

The meeting at Christ the King High School was held to inform locals of the group’s plans for action against the shelter and to show them the ways they can help the cause, organizers said.

“We want to prevent the warehousing of the homeless,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said.  “We are asking residents for help.”

The Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition has raised more than $30,000, which it intends to use to challenge a declaration by the city that said a homeless shelter would have no adverse effect on the community.

“[The city] just went through the motions,” Chris Murray, the coalition’s lawyer, said. “If we win, the city will have to go back and do an Environmental Impact Statement. This could then take them up to three years to complete and will prolong the process.”

But to continue the legal action the coalition asked locals to kick in money and for at least one resident on each block to become a “block captain,” who would keep neighbors informed and collect donation pledges.

By the end of the night, more than 70 people signed up to become block captains and more than 50 checks were collected, organizers said.

The coalition estimated that it will need about $100,000 more to fight the proposed shelter effectively.

Sal Cafasi, one of the originators of the coalition, said the group will continue to hold meetings and update residents.

The coalition has asked for the community’s continuing support throughout the process.

“This is a battle and we will win it,” Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said. “The neighborhood is united against this. We need [residents] to spread the word.”

The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Star of Queens: Lorraine Sciulli, first vice president, Juniper Park Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

LoriChristmas2012

 HARVIND JAPRA

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Lorraine Sciulli is the first vice president of the volunteer group Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) and a member of Queens Community Board 5. Sciulli is also the editor of Juniper Berry, a quarterly all-volunteer magazine of the JPCA that focuses on the history of Middle Village, Maspeth and Elmhurst and other pertinent information about the community.

BACKGROUND: “At Juniper Park Civic Association we do everything, literally everything. People come to us with problems and we help anyone we can. We have over 1500 members and we’re in charge of all of Middle Village and Maspeth.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory goes way back to the late 70s when there was a problem with a parking lot. There was prostitution going on down there and Arthur Catsman was the council member at the time, and he helped me with the petition for closing down the parking lot. It was the first spark and the first beginning to when it pulled me into the whole system, where I just wanted to keep doing it.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The biggest challenge I had to face was in the early turn of the century. We wanted to include the area of the Elmhurst into Middle Village, because it was right across the road and it would make it easier for the people of Elmhurst to identify themselves. We wanted to include the area into the 11379 zip code and it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work and patience, but we did it.”

INSPIRATION: “I’ve never looked at anything hopelessly. Anything is possible; if you have a goal and you set out to get it you will win, and even if you don’t win, you’ll win enough to want to stay working at it. That’s what happens when people come to us at JPC — they come to us with a problem and we find tangible results. They like making a difference, and they end up staying active with us.”

 

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Contentious Maspeth Knockdown Center faces opposition in liquor license application


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/ Ariana Page Russell

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

In round one in the fight for The Knockdown Center to obtain a liquor license, it seems the local community board won’t be in their corner.

The center recently applied for a cabaret liquor license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA), according to Community Board 5, despite heavy opposition from residents and elected officials. The cabaret class license will allow the center to serve liquor at events, which have “musical entertainment,” for 600 or more people.

The community board wrote a letter to SLA opposing the license, outlining fears of negative impacts the center could have on the neighborhood.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Bob Holden, a member of the board and president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This is a blue print for disaster right here.”

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition, and most recently a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes and large exhibits in the future.

In the letter, the board cited various reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor licenses, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to the immediate residences.

“All too typical with young people partying at raves and other events, which this could certainly house there is extensive alcohol abuse, but also abuse of prescription drugs and drugs like molly and ecstasy,” the letter stated. “There is a residential community very nearby, just on the opposite side of Flushing Avenue from the site in question. Problems with intoxication, fights, calls for ambulances and noise from loud music will hurt the residential community.”

Members are also worried that the center is taking away the opportunity for industrial jobs, as the site is zoned for manufacturing.

Recently it was revealed that Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in his preliminary budget for the Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) program, which were created to save and foster manufacturing jobs in the city. There are two IBZs in the board, one in Masepth, and the newly approved zone in Ridgewood.

“We should start talking about how we could protect our manufacturing zones,” said John Maier, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee. “How we can go and address our elected (officials) and the city government to help ensure that these facilities don’t [effect] on our IBZs (Industrial Business Zones)?”

The center has been working on obtaining its Place of Assembly and Certificate of Occupancy, and has maintained it will not harm the community.

“We are excited that the community is getting involved and expressing their concerns,” said Tyler Myers, manager of the Knockdown Center. “We know that our direct neighbors are excited about it. The concerns of the larger community weren’t true last summer, and won’t be true [in the future].”

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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Police arrest a Queens Parks Department manager for sexual abuse of a minor


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rene Herrera

A Woodhaven resident and long-time Parks Department employee was arrested on Sunday and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of an underage family member, stemming from his alleged actions five years ago.

Rene Herrera, 57, who oversees such green spaces as Juniper Valley Park, sexually abused an 11-year-old female relative on three separate occasions in 2008, cops said.

The mother of the girl, who is now 16, reported the incidents to the police on Saturday, December 28. Police have not released specific details of the alleged abuse.

Herrera has worked with the Parks Department for about 25 years, according to the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA), and became a regional manager in 2002. He is married and has three children.

People that worked with Herrera said that he is a good person.

“I’ve worked with him on many projects. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a team player,” said Simcha Waisman, vice president of the Richmond Hill Block Association. “From 2008 to now? Something is wrong with that.”

And Herrera has been very helpful and reliable in managing the parks in his districts, according to JPCA.

“He has been efficient and responsive to any issues we may have, always attempting to solve any problems that are reported to him,” said Lorraine Sciulli of JPCA. “He is readily available by phone if we have the need to get in touch with him quickly. He has always been cooperative and helpful to the JPCA.”

Herrera has been suspended without pay, according to a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

Follow on Twitter @liamlaguerre 

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Middle Village man has contentious plan to fix community parking issues


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One Middle Village resident is proposing a divisive plan to relieve parking problems in the community.

Matthew Crafa will meet with Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee to present his idea, which involves changing the parking signs around the perimeter of Juniper Valley Park to open up new overnight spots.

Parking is not allowed around most of the perimeter of the park from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. except for a tiny stretch on 71st Street. To avoid receiving tickets, residents in the neighborhood do not park their cars there overnight, leading to a scramble to find parking, Crafa said.

“We don’t live in Manhattan,” said Crafa, who moved into the neighborhood about a year ago. “There’s plenty of parking here. This is nonsense.”

Crafa and his neighbors on 75th Place have recently paved over the grassy areas in front of their homes to create extra parking spots.

Crafa said people constantly block his driveway and the fire hydrant on his street because of the limited parking.

Crafa believes that vehicle usage has increased in the area over time, due in part to the lack of public transportation in the community, which has no subway line. Opening up the parking around the nearly 56-acre park would alleviate the issue for residents in the area by instantly creating hundreds of parking spaces, he said.

However, Crafa’s plan has already met some opposition.

“We’re willing to look at ideas, but it was something that was done because kids were getting out there anytime of the night,” Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden said. “This was an idea from the 104th Precinct, that the only way we could have any effect on anybody who hangs out over there would be with parking restrictions.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Holden said the restrictions were enacted in the late 1980s to prevent youngsters from gathering with dozens of cars at the park after closing to drink and play loud music.

He believes that opening up overnight parking around Juniper again will encourage people to congregate at late hours.

Photo courtesy Bob Holden 

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Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown Center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition, since last year.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”

 

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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Glendale rallies against proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A senior center, a school, maybe even a park is fine, but residents in Glendale want to shut the door on a proposed homeless shelter.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. led a protest on Friday in front a defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Avenue, which nonprofit Samaritan Village plans to transform into transitional housing if its proposal is approved by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

“We are against a 125-unit homeless shelter that the city is planning to ram down this community’s throat,” said Vallone, who is running to be the next borough president. “This is the wrong location and it’s the wrong size.”

The community has been against this proposal since last year when rumors started. But recently Samaritan Village negotiated with Michael Wilner, the owner of the property, and submitted a proposal to the DHS. The nonprofit also sent a letter to Community Board 5 and local leaders to officially notify them of the plans.

Wilner could not be reached for comment as of press time. And when The Courier contacted Samaritan Village, which operates multiple shelters around the city, the group said that it would not comment as the proposal is still being reviewed.

The nonprofit said it plans to insert 125 families in the building and it will have security.

Community members are worried that adding that number of people in the neighborhood would inundate already overcrowded schools.

Residents also believe that Glendale isn’t a good fit for the shelter, because transportation is limited since there are no subway lines.

The factory, which used to manufacture plane parts, is contaminated, according to multiple sources, and the building would need millions in tax dollars to repair.

So instead of a homeless shelter, residents said they would prefer to see a school, a park for local kids or a senior center for the many elderly in the area.

“Right now I’m looking for someplace for my mother,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“I’m looking for something that I’d feel is appropriate, but I have to look upstate. So we need something in our neighborhood.”

They aren’t completely sure what the site should become, but there is a unified belief that a homeless shelter will damage the community so they don’t want it.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Augie Trinchese. “I’ve lived here for 41 years and I don’t want to see my property value go down.”

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Star of Queens: Len Santoro, American Cancer Society, Juniper Park Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Len Santoro started working with the American Cancer Society three years ago. It was his first time volunteering for such a group. Since then, Santoro has worked on several fundraising projects for the society. He also helped work with financial services company Standard & Poor’s to organize a volunteer day.

Around the same time, Santoro started working with the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) after seeing all the work that it does for the community. With the JPCA, he organized neighborhood cleanups, tree plantings and much more. He also helped revive and expand its youth organization. With Santoro’s help, the JPCA has worked alongside the Maspeth High School Green Club, Stop & Shop, the 104th Precinct and others.

BACKGROUND: Santoro was born in Brooklyn, where he lived until he was eight years old. After moving to Ridgewood in 1978, he stayed there for 13 years before moving to Middle Village and then Forest Hills. In addition to his community service, Santoro also works for the IT Department of Standard & Poor’s.

“That job is interesting,” he said. “But it’s the community service that’s really important to me. Society has really opened up my eyes to volunteering, and after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I found that it was through volunteer work that I was able to feel as though I was doing something to help her and others. It empowers you to make you feel that you can make a difference.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory is probably when I was looking for my first apartment, when I was moving from Middle Village to Forest Hills. At that time, I was becoming more independent. My stepfather taught me a lot about how to negotiate in a way that let me know that I have a voice. He showed me that I’m the buyer in that situation, and if there’s something I want to go my way, I have to say something. That relates to my community service because that period was definitely a period of growth for me.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “I think my biggest challenge is getting volunteers during the summer, especially for the Relay for Life. The challenge there is always getting donations and awareness out on what we do. The biggest advantage that the American Cancer Society has over other organizations is that it offers patient services, does research and doesn’t just focus on one particular cancer.”

INSPIRATION: “I think a lot of my inspiration comes from my mother. I have two older siblings, and even though my parents divorced when I was eight years old, my mother took care of us all by herself. She always put our needs ahead of her own, and that’s what community service is all about, being able to give up your time, but doing it because it makes you feel good. When people appreciate the work that’s being done, that’s a feeling that you can’t describe and can’t replace. My other inspiration is my wife, who was working with the American Cancer Society and encouraged me to become a part of it, and that helped kick off some of the other volunteer work I’ve done since then.”

JOHANN HAMILTON

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 95. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series – Italian Night

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association presents the Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series.Playing tonight are Tony Valenti and Chris Macchio. Starts at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teachers: African-American faculty was targeted for firing at Queens School

Teachers and activists protested at the New York City Department of Education Headquarters on Monday, amid claims that a principal at a Queens school used insensitive language toward African-American teachers as she fired them. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD, Brookhaven to release harmless gases in subway for chemical weapon study

The NYPD will release harmless gases into the subway system during the morning rush beginning Tuesday to study how chemical weapons could be dispersed through the air. Read more: NBC New York 

Queens borough president hopeful Melinda Katz nabs endorsement of Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Grace Meng is backing Democrat Melinda Katz in her bid to become the next Queens borough president, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News 

Two firefighters save five from sinking fishing boat 

Two city firefighters are being hailed as heroes for rescuing five people from a sinking boat in the waters off Queens. Read more: NY1

Restaurant owners hope inspection changes mean lower fines

Reform is on the menu for the controversial New York City restaurant inspection system. Read more: CBS New York

Women in Ohio kidnap case thank public for support 

Three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade issued a YouTube video Monday night in which they thanked the public for the encouragement and financial support that is allowing them to restart their lives. Read more: AP