Tag Archives: Little Neck

New building at former Little Neck Scobee Diner site making progress


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The new two-story commercial building that was planned for the former site of the popular Scobee Diner in Little Neck is nearing completion.

The frame of the first floor of the 5,612-square-foot building at 252-29 Northern Blvd. is mostly erect and workers are constructing the back and the second floor. But the new building was expected to be completed by September, according to the construction site poster.

A Citibank branch is expected to move in as a tenant on the first floor after the building is completed, according to past reports and designs by Nandinee Phookan Architects.

A medical office was also set for the second floor of the building.

A Schuckman Realty advertisement was posted about available space. Calls and emails to Schuckman Realty were not returned.

Construction poster

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals approved a variance for the new building at the former Scobee Diner site in January, allowing the new owner, Lion Bee Equities, to move the former restaurant’s parking lot to the back of the property.

There will be 17 parking spaces at the new lot, according to city records.

Scobee Diner closed in 2010 after the restaurant owners failed to reach an agreement on purchasing the site from the landowners.

Inside construction

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Man fatally hit on Cross Island after exiting moving vehicle, running across roadway: cops  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A 54-year-old man was killed on the Cross Island Parkway Tuesday night after he exited his moving car and was struck by a van as he tried to cross the roadway, according to authorities.

At about 5:40 p.m., the victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was driving eastbound in the left lane of the Grand Central Parkway near Little Neck when he got out of his Mercedes, police said.

His car then crashed into the center median and came to a stop.

After exiting the Mercedes, the man ran across the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway and attempted to cross the northbound lanes of the Cross Island Parkway, where he was struck by a Ford van, cops said.

The victim was taken to North Shore University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the van remained at the scene and the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the victim exited the car.

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Community-driven Astoria resident celebrates 100th birthday


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Being active, spending time with loved ones, and eating “very good Italian food” are the keys to a long and happy life, according to 100-year-old Frances Lopresto.

The Astoria resident celebrated a century of birthdays on Saturday together with longtime friends, local politicians and four generations of family members at Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck.

“It made me feel real young,” said Lopresto, who was dancing the night away in her wheelchair just a day shy of her 100th birthday, according to her family.

Along with being involved for more than 30 years in the real estate and insurance business with her husband of 50 years, Charles, who passed away in 1984, Lopresto was active in civic, religious, charitable and political organizations.

“I felt that reading the newspaper and meeting different people made me feel good and I continued to be better and bigger each time,” Lopresto said.

She held positions in parent-teacher associations of schools that her children attended and was a member of the Astoria Civic Association as well as the board of directors of the United Community Civic Association of Jackson Heights.

The mother of four was also a member of and helped raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Astoria/Long Island City and Saint Rita’s Roman Catholic Church’s Guidance for Unwed Mothers. She is still an active member of the LIC Lions Club.

Frances Lopresto with her four children while she celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 30. (Photo courtesy of Angela Lopresto)

Frances Lopresto with her children during her 100th birthday celebration. (Photo courtesy of Angela Lopresto)

“She juggled very well because it was things she loved to do, you have to like things to achieve and go forward,” said her daughter, Angela, who followed in her mother’s footsteps in real estate. “She achieved much and people recognize that and that’s what is nice about it. She had a very busy and active life.”

Lopresto was also vice-chairwoman of the Queens County Republican County Committee from 1974 to 1980.

Although she is currently physically limited from participating in many activities, Lopresto still enjoys remaining active by taking strolls down Ditmars Boulevard in her wheelchair and going out to eat with friends and family.

She has 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. One of her sons, John, is a former state assemblyman, her other son Thomas is an attorney, and her youngest son, Charles, is a sitting Supreme Court Justice working in the Queens County Criminal Court.

When asked what advice she gives others for living a long life, she said people should “keep working and eating well.”

“I came from good Sicilian blood,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed my life and I would do the same thing over again.”

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Health Department to treat parts of Queens against West Nile


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Health Department will treat parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will spray pesticide from trucks, will take place between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Aug. 20. during the same hours.

For this spraying, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil® 10+10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

LOCATIONS:

Parts of Corona, Forest Hills, Forest Hill Gardens, Flushing, Kew Gardens Hills, Queensboro Hill and Rego Park (Bordered  by Long Island Expressway, College Point Boulevard and Booth Memorial Avenue to the north; 99th Street, 67th Avenue and Austin Street to the west; Jackie Robinson Parkway and Grand Central Parkway to the south; and Main Street to the east)

Parts of Bellrose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Hollis Hills, Glen Oaks and Little Neck (Bordered by Long Island Expressway, Douglaston Parkway and Van Zandt Avenue to the north; Cloverdale Boulevard,73rd Avenue and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Hillside Avenue to the south; Little Neck Parkway, Leith Road, Hewlett Street and Langdale Street to the east.)

 

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Two women accused of abusing young exchange students at Little Neck tutoring academy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BENJAMIN FANG

They were supposed to care for the international exchange students, but instead were caught punishing them.

Two women, Sun Kyung Park, 33, and Min Kyung “Pamela” Chea, 34, have been charged with endangering the welfare of four Korean abroad students in a private tutoring academy in Little Neck, prosecutors said.

The women are accused of forcing the children, ages nine through 11, to do physically abusive activities. One student had to hold six to eight books above his head for extended periods of time and was struck repeatedly with a spiral notebook, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

They also allegedly withheld food and water and limited the boys’ usage of the bathroom.

The discipline was a result of the students misbehaving, getting a bad grade on a test or being too loud, according to Brown.

“The young victims in this case came to the United States from Korea without their parents who paid considerable sums of money to send their children abroad to learn English and obtain an education,” Brown said.  “The defendants had an obligation to provide a safe environment for the students and keep them from harm – which they are accused of failing to fulfill in this case by being unable to distinguish between acceptable discipline and physical and mental abuse.”

Chea is the students’ legal guardian while Park is an employee of the educational center, Crown Tutoring Academy, located at 248-12 Northern Blvd. Crown Tutoring is owned by Chea’s husband.

Park, from Oakland Gardens, is charged with assault and endangering the welfare, and could face up to seven years of prison if convicted, prosecutors said. Chea, a Little Neck resident, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and attempted assault, and may be looking at up to one year in jail.

Both women are currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.

 

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Young Queens residents represent borough in Rubik’s Cube competition


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Christopher Chi

BENJAMIN FANG

These cubers are quickly gaining speed.

Four Queens residents participated in the 10th annual National Rubik’s Cube Championship this past weekend at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J.

Brandon Lin, Eric Zhao, Christopher Chi and Samuel Fang competed with hundreds of the country’s fastest Rubik’s Cube solvers in almost 20 events.

Bayside teen Brandon Lin, 15, set the North American record for solving the Square-1 cube, a multi-shape puzzle with three layers that Lin described as “shape-shifting.” His average time was 12.83 seconds, outpacing his previous top score of 13.05.

In the 3×3 Rubik’s Cube portion, the most popular event, Lin finished in the second round with an average of 15.34 seconds. He set his best personal time in nine of 15 events.

“I felt very accomplished,” Lin said after his record-breaking performance over the weekend. “Becoming Square-1 National Champion was something I was really striving for the past few months.”

Brandon Lin

Lin, a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, has had plenty of practice with other students.

“At my school, I run a Rubik’s Cube club in which people give each other tips on how to solve it faster,” he said.

The club has hosted citywide competitions, inviting students from other schools to participate.

Lin said he has been training for four years. He began when he saw kids playing with it, so he gave it a shot. Frustrated, Lin decided to look up how to solve it. From then on, he said it was all about practice.

“The main secret is just to practice and dedication,” he said. “It’s not something where you need a high mathematical ability. Mostly it’s just memorizing sequences.”

Lin saw a familiar face this weekend in Eric Zhao, a 17-year-old Astoria resident who also attends Stuyvesant and is part of the school’s cubing club. Zhao solved his first cube in the sixth grade, improved in the seventh grade and entered his first competitive tournament in August 2010 at St. John’s University.

Eric Zhao

Now a four-year veteran, Zhao said there is no secret to solving the Rubik’s Cube.

“All the information is online and available to everyone,” he said. “You just have to want to learn it.”

Zhao placed 112th place in the tournament with a second-round average of 14.85 seconds, the best finish among his fellow Queens competitors.

In February 2010, Zhao founded CubeDepot, an online shop that sells speedcubing products. He said he started the store because he wanted new Rubik’s Cubes but not pay for them.

“I figured if I bought around ten of each, and then sold nine, I could keep one for essentially free,” Zhao said. He said in 2011, the company made about $60,000 in profit.

For Christopher Chi, 11, the national tournament was his first taste of competition. Now a seventh grade student at Bell Academy, Chi said he started cubing when he was 8, and has been learning to speed up for three years.

Chi said there is no secret to success. He said you just have to learn all the algorithms, which are a series of moves that help you solve the cube.

Chi only participated in the 3×3 and 2×2 events, placing 381st and 286th, respectively.

“It was a good experience for me, since it was my first competition,” he said. “I hope I can do better next year.”

Samuel Fang

Like Chi, Samuel Fang, 12, is new to the contest. The tournament was just his second, but he improved in all six of his events.

The seventh grader at M.S. 67 in Little Neck solved his first Rubik’s Cube just over a year ago, and began competing this year.

Fang said he was nervous with the large audience, but relished the opportunity to watch fellow cubers work at breakneck speed.

“I did see a few world records broken there,” Fang said. “It was pretty cool to see that.”

He finished 57th overall in the 2×2 event with an average of 4.46 seconds.

The tournament took place while the center displayed its Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibition, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the cube’s creation.

 

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Health Department to treat areas of Queens against West Nile this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 6 there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 7 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (Bordered by Long Island Rail Road Track to the north; 219th Street and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south and Douglaston Parkway to the east)

Parts of Blissville, Sunnyside and west Maspeth (Bordered by Green Point Avenue and 48th Avenue to the north; Van Dam Street to the west; Newtown Creek (Queens-King County Boundary) to the South; 49th Street, 56th Road, 50th Street, Queens Midtown Expressway and 49th Street to the East

Parts of Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Jamaica (Bordered by Grand Central Parkway and Jackie Robinson Parkway to north; Metropolitan Avenue and 118th Street to the west; Long Island Rail Road and Archer Avenue to the south; 14th Place, Jamaica Avenue, 144th Street, 87th Avenue and 150th Street to the east)

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

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Little Neck actor finds business success in Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Johnny Solo


Actor Johnny Solo is starring in many different roles in Astoria.

The 39-year-old Little Neck resident is the co-owner of three establishments in the western Queens neighborhood, two of which opened in the past few months.

The first of the trio, Grand Café located at 37-01 30th Ave., was started eight years ago and opened for brunch because “there weren’t that many options [on 30th Avenue] back then.”

The corner café has since attracted guests wanting indoor or outdoor seating for all meals of the day.

Then an idea for a new establishment came after an unfortunate circumstance of a partner’s wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, causing the team to change their lifestyles and eating habits to all-organic. She has since recovered.

“It started to slowly go into our lifestyle,” Solo said. “Once you get into the lifestyle, you don’t feel like you’re missing anything. We said that we are enjoying this so much, why don’t we build it in the back room of Grand Café.”

Two months ago organic juice and smoothie shop Ginger opened its door in what used to be Grand Café’s private events back room. Ginger offers all-organic smoothies and cold-pressed juices bottled on site, salads, kale chips and much more.

“The idea was to make the most flavorful, all-organic natural juices and smoothies, but also similar to what Starbucks did, make it the most comfortable, coolest place,” Solo said about the interior design of the shop, which features a large cushioned seating area, benches, antique decorations and walls made up of recycled wood.

Ginger also offers organic liquors, wines and champagnes. The shop provides customers with juicing programs, ranging from one- to three-day options. Juices come packaged in recycled cardboard six-pack beer containers.

The shop’s items will soon be fully available on the Grand Café’s menu as Solo looks to give customers “healthier options.”

“We feel the way we changed the landscape with Grand Café, we feel now a decade later we will change the landscape again,” Solo said. “Part of our job now is reaching out and make [customers] understand. I don’t feel you’re really juicing if you aren’t going organic.”

Together with working on his acting career, during which he has starred in movies and television series such as Law & Order, and this September will debut a film he produced, Solo also co-owns Republic located at 33-29 Astoria Blvd.

The bar, which opened in April, is located at the site of a former wholesale meat packing warehouse and its menu features a Nutella calzone, salads, cocktails and “fun” pizza with names such as “The Queen,” Cherry Jackson!” and “Killa Kale.”

Opened Tuesdays through Sundays starting at 6 p.m., Republic offers music from DJs, screenings of artistic documentaries and the excitement even stretches to the unisex bathroom where patrons can pick up a piece of chalk and write all over the walls.

The exterior and interior of the bar also feature artwork from Brooklyn graffiti artist B.D. White.

“The locals were very happy because nothing was here,” Solo said. “[Republic] is building slowly.”

 

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Star of Queens: Lauren Elizabeth Cornea, Clinton Club of Northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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JANAE HUNTER

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Lauren Cornea has been a Young Democrat with the Clinton Club of Northeast Queens, which serves the neighborhoods of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck and Whitestone, since 2010. The club keeps the community updated on local events and politics in the neighborhood. She is also a member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and does community and volunteer work for the community through the chapter. When she is not doing work for these organizations or volunteering for attorney Paul Vallone, she is a Learning Leader volunteer, where she tutors students at P.S. 21Q in reading, writing and math.

BACKGROUND: Cornea was born and raised in Flushing. After graduating from the Harvey School, Cornea spent some time traveling in Europe. Now, she is back in Queens and works as a realtor at Amorelli Realty in Astoria, and is the single mother of two children, Dominic John, 8, and Violeta-Rose, 6.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I have faced is being a single mother juggling career and family life,” Cornea said. Raising two young children and balancing a job can be hard, but she makes it work. As for her career, being a female commercial realtor is tough when there are so many men doing the job. “This is a man’s world, and I have had to work extra to live in it. I work extra hard for people to take me seriously and value what I have to say. I have worked very hard to be seen as a woman who is knowledgeable and hard working and not just seen as a pretty face.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I have so many achievements that I’m proud of that it’s hard to choose,” said Cornea. “One of my top achievements has been closing the deal on Steinway Mansion. That deal took 18 months and when we finally closed the deal it went for $2.6 million.” But, she added, raising her children, successfully bouncing back from the divorce, having the opportunity to give back by teaching children to learn to read, write and do basic arithmetic, and being a successful woman in a male-dominated profession are also some of Cornea’s greatest achievements.

INSPIRATION: “This may sound corny, but my biggest inspiration is definitely my kids,” said Cornea. “They rely on me for everything. On days when I do not feel like getting up, all I have to do is think about my two children who need me to be a success in order for them to have a better future.” Cornea said she is also inspired by her natural competitiveness that makes her try and be the best at whatever she does.

 

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Little Neck school first in the US to offer Essential Accessibility app


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

JANAE HUNTER 

A Little Neck elementary school is paving the way for people with disabilities.

P.S. 811Q on Marathon Parkway is the first school in the nation to partner with Canadian company Essential Accessibility and offer its app, which is designed to help people who can’t browse the web through conventional methods.

Through the app, students, parents, faculty and volunteers can navigate the web completely hands free through motion technology and voice activation. The app is most suitable for those who have dexterity challenges or reading difficulties brought on by conditions such as dyslexia, cerebral palsy, arthritis and paralysis, according to the company’s website.

“We are extremely proud to be the first school in the country to provide this groundbreaking app on our website,” said Penny Ryan, principal of P.S. 811Q.
Ryan hopes that this new app will allow those at the school with disabilities to access to school’s website for vital information, such as events and educational resources.

“By offering this app, we are able to better reach and involve all members of the P.S. 811Q community and empower them to become active participants in providing the brightest possible future for all students.”

The app is free and can be downloaded by clicking the blue wheelchair and keyboard icon on the upper right corner on the school’s website. Once downloaded, users will be able to access the app on any website.

 

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E. Gluck Corp. to lower giant Little Neck wall following protest


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Watch-maker E. Gluck Corporation will lower a newly-built, giant 36-foot wall, which surprised and disturbed residents near the company’s new location, Little Neck politicians announced.

Under the new design, which has been approved by the Buildings Department, the wall will be scaled down 14 feet to 22 feet, the company said Monday. In addition, E. Gluck will include 20 flowering pear trees and 75 white pine trees around the property at 60-15 Little Neck Pkwy.

“We are pleased to reach a solution that addresses the public’s concerns,” said Murray Stimler, senior vice president at E. Gluck. “Our goal is to be a good neighbor in Little Neck and a beneficial part of the community for many years to come.”

Last month, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, Councilman Mark Weprin and state Sen. Tony Avella protested the wall with more than 100 residents. The current height blocks sunlight after certain hours and residents were afraid that it would hurt property values.

E. Gluck is moving this year into the lot, which is being developed by Steel Tribune LLC, and is the former site of electrical wiring company Leviton.

Initially, E. Gluck promised to put a one-story warehouse on the site, according to politicians. But residents woke up one day to find the towering dark gray wall, which sits on a hill that is about 10 feet high off the curb and extends nearly halfway through the block. The solution to lower the wall was welcome news for the elected officials.

“I appreciate that E. Gluck is making changes to its building plans to address some of the concerns raised by their neighbors and elected officials,” Braunstein said. “I am hopeful that moving forward the company will continue to make efforts to ensure that its operations do not negatively impact the surrounding community.”

 

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Little Neck wants monstrous wall to come down


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

 

Little Neck residents say they can see the writing on the wall for their neighborhood, if a Long Island City-based company moving in has its way.

More than 100 residents backed by local politicians protested on April 22 against watch manufacturer E. Gluck Corporation’s construction of a 35-foot wall, which is so high some said it blocks sunlight after certain hours. Community members fear it will hurt property values and their quality of life.

“It looks like the cross between a concentration camp and ‘The Wall’ from ‘Game of Thrones,’” said Joan Arnowitz, a resident who lives down the block from the wall. “I have an $800,000 house that’s now going to go down in value.”

E. Gluck is moving this year into the empty lot at 60-15 Little Neck Parkway, the former site of electrical wiring company Leviton. Residents and politicians were initially in support of the move, believing that E. Gluck, like Leviton, would be a quiet neighbor based on the wares it manufactures.

The company promised to put a one-story warehouse on the site, according to politicians. But residents woke up recently to find the towering dark gray wall, which sits on a hill that is about 10 feet high off the curb, extending nearly halfway through the block. It appears to be the outside wall of the warehouse under construction.

“We want to be a good, respectful neighbor, and we believe our use of the property is preferable to alternative uses allowed for this site, such as a distribution center that would significantly increase truck traffic on local streets,” the company said in a statement. “We have heard the concerns expressed by elected officials and members of the public, and we are currently evaluating our options based on their feedback.”

State Sen. Tony Avella asked the Department of Buildings (DOB) for a Stop Work Order for the property. He and other elected officials also hope to take away about $13 million in tax breaks that the company was granted from the city for the next 25 years.

“They lied to us. They told us that this would be a small project,” Avella said. “They made us an enemy. They didn’t have to do this, but they made an enemy out of us and we are going to fight for the community. This has to come down.”

 

 

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Star of Queens: Jade Reid, volunteer, Brandywine Senior Living


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

Community Service: For the past four years, 15-year-old Jade Reid has been volunteering her time at the Brandywine Senior Living at The Savoy in Little Neck. During that time she has helped out with recreational activities and office work on weekday evenings and on weekends.

Background: Jade lives in Roosevelt, Long Island, and is a sophomore at Roosevelt High School.

When she is not volunteering at the senior home, Jade is active at her school. She is part of the basketball, soccer and softball teams, as well as the student government and yearbook club. She also volunteers in her school’s community services program where students help clean and maintain the community.

“It’s just part of my characteristics and how I view things,” she said. “I’m a helpful person and that’s why I decide to volunteer.”

Jade said she began volunteering at Brandywine after accompanying her mom, who works at the senior home, and just lending a helping hand.

“I was just looking for a place that needed help,” she said. “One day I decided to help and from that day on I just helped everybody.”

She volunteers every week, and when she has days off from school comes more frequently to the site. Even with school she said she makes time to volunteer and help those who need her.

Favorite Memory: Jade has many fond memories of the past four years she has spent volunteering at Brandywine, including many of the activities that are organized for the residents. During those times she has helped in barbecues and car washes.

“Those are the fun times,” she said. “Seeing the residents happy, makes me happy.”

Inspiration: Her biggest inspiration are the people who work at Brandywine, including her own mother. Jade hopes to go into a career in the nursing field and continue working on helping others.

 

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Little Neck restaurant Mizumi to expand, clean up eyesore


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Mizumi restaurant is pumping funds into a planned expansion that will clean up the eyesore next door, a defunct gas station, The Courier has learned.

Owners of the sushi restaurant and buffet bought the former Getty gas station on 231-06 Northern Blvd., which has been tagged with graffiti for more than a year, and plan to replace it with an extension of the eatery.

Besides cleaning off the vandalism, the Chiang family, which owns Mizumi, hired Advanced Cleanup Technologies to remediate any environmental concerns caused by the gas station or expansion as it sits directly in front of Alley Pond Park.

“As we all know, gas stations, or any automotive-related shops can negatively impact its neighborhood,” Ken Chiang said in an email. “We wanted to make sure that our environment and Alley Pond Park would not [be] affected by our expansion.”

Owners of the restaurant aren’t certain what to turn the expanded space into yet, but are contemplating adding extra seating capacity to accommodate large gatherings for catered private events. And the family hired the same Japanese interior and exterior designer who created Mizumi to articulate the style into the extension. After finalizing plans, they will present it to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

“I think everyone can agree that a restaurant or potentially a catering space is far more attractive for the community and storefront of Northern Boulevard than a gas station or auto repair center,” Chiang said.

 

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Little Neck woman celebrates a century


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Woodrow Wilson was president, Babe Ruth played his first professional game and the world’s first transcontinental telephone line was established, the year Maria Regina Lucarelli was born.

Lucarelli, a resident of Brandywine Senior Living at the Savoy in Little Neck, will turn 100 years old on Sunday, April 13, and she will have a birthday party at the senior home to celebrate her experiences during the last century.

To reach the century mark, Lucarelli didn’t have to rely on a fountain of youth or a special anti-aging potion. Her advice to younger people is to just take it easy.

“You let each day go with whatever happens,” she said. “Go with the flow.”

Lucarelli’s life has been a wild ride through some of history’s darkest moments, including World Wars I and II and the Great Depression, as she struggled to achieve the “American Dream.”

Lucarelli was born in Toritto, Italy, in 1914. As a child, she traveled with her parents to America, where she completed junior high school and learned English. Eventually, she moved back to Italy to settle down and help her family during the Great Depression.

In 1947, she married Filippo Lucarelli, a conductor and musician, and the pair had two daughters in Italy. In 1953, when the family decided to board a ship to move to America permanently, the couple learned at the last minute that Filippo’s papers weren’t in order. She went alone and he remained in Italy with the children.

Initially, the problem with Filippo’s papers should have taken a few weeks to fix, but ended up splitting the family up for about seven months, becoming the most devastating period of Lucarelli’s life.

“That was the biggest obstacle I think my mother and father had to face,” said Lucarelli’s daughter, Chiara Ceglian. “I just can’t imagine the heartache that everyone felt at that time.”

Photo courtesy Chiara Ceglian 

After the family was reunited, they lived in a small apartment near Gramercy Park in Manhattan, where the rent was a bargain at $50 a month.

In America, Lucarelli used her skills as a seamstress to become a fashion designer working for department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

She also mended clothes for private clients, “saving every penny” she earned, Ceglian said. After Lucarelli gave birth to her final daughter, the family moved to a house in Long Island with a relative. Then Lucarelli used her savings to buy her own house in Long Island, where she remained until she retired.

Her daughters are hosting her century birthday party, but cake and drinks aren’t on Lucarelli’s mind these days.

“I made it through the bad,” said Lucarelli, who is a great-grandmother of two. “I’m happy to be alive.”
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