Tag Archives: Rockaways

Government officials to host Build It Back reps


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The long, dragged-out process of filling out applications and following up with Build It Back may finally get a little easier.

In an effort to better accommodate residents who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. will host Build It Back representatives in their local offices, so residents can meet directly with Build It Back officials and learn exactly what they have to do to finalize their applications for the government-subsidized grant.

“There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Build It Back program,” Goldfeder said.

The representatives will file paperwork, investigate individual cases and provide a case manager for each resident. Making an appointment is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcomed.

“I am thankful Build it Back has people in the Rockaways, but residents off of the Peninsula were affected as well, and they should be able to get help in their own neighborhood,” Addabbo said.

At Addabbo’s office, located at 159-53 102nd St., representatives will hold meetings every Thursday beginning June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can made by calling 718-738-1111.

At Goldfeder’s offices, located at 2-14 Beach 96th St. and 108-14 Cross Bay Blvd., representatives will alternate between offices beginning with the Rockaway office on Thursday, June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 718-945-9550.

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

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Man discovered inside garbage bag in Rockaways died from gunshot wound


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The death of a Jamaica man whose body was found inside a garbage bag in the Rockaways Monday has been ruled a homicide, police said.

Quynton Ross, 33, was shot once in the chest, according to the medical examiner.

His body was discovered about 9:50 a.m. on Beach 40th Street between Edgemere Avenue and the boardwalk, officials said.

After Quynton went missing Sunday his family used a cell phone tracking app, which helped lead them to the scene where police found the body, cops said.

 

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Body discovered inside garbage bag in Rockaways


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

The body of a man was found inside a garbage bag in the Rockaways Monday morning, police said.

Officers discovered the body about 9:50 a.m. on Beach 40th Street between Edgemere Avenue and the boardwalk, according to officials.

Police said the unidentified man is about 30 years old.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing, cops said.

 

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Newly opened Rockaway YMCA to boost local economy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Raymond Liang for the YMCA

The YMCA has a new home by the sea.

The YMCA of Greater New York celebrated the opening of its new branch, Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea, on March 14 during a ribbon cutting with local elected officials and community leaders. The ceremony was originally scheduled a month before but postponed due to the weather.

The 44,000-square-foot facility, developed by Benjamin-Beechwood LLC, faced some construction delays after Superstorm Sandy swept through the city. However, the 207 Beach 73rd St. location opened its doors to the general public on Feb. 18 and had a record of 1,100 new members in its first week of operation.

“For the first time in our organization’s 161 year history, the YMCA has a permanent, brick-and-mortar branch in the Rockaways,” said Jack Lund, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “This new Y is not only bringing vital programs and services to the people of the Rockaways, but it is creating jobs and helping to sustain economic development in the area.”

The site now includes the largest aquatic center of any of the 24 YMCA locations in New York City which features a lap pool, a family-friendly recreational pool with a water slide and much more.

The overall Rockaways location also includes a full-court gymnasium, fitness center, outdoor recreational field, community multi-purpose space for youth and family programs, and other amenities. Some of the programs that will be available at the new location include after-school and college readiness, youth employment and job training, child care and adult learning.

“The new Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea is a bright and shining example of our neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization and recovery from super storm Sandy,” Councilmember Donovan Richards Jr. said. “This facility will provide jobs for local Rockaways residents and stand to serve as our neighborhood’s heart –providing a safe, community center dedicated to improving the quality of life for all our families.”

After Superstorm Sandy hit the Rockaways, the YMCA of Greater New York helped distribute cases of water, blankets, clothing and household items to families. The organization also donated backpacks with schools supplies and winter clothing to 1,000 students at P.S. 197.

The new Rockaways location is open Monday through Friend from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information visit here.

 

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City officials split on marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson

St. Patrick’s Day parades citywide are creating a stir.

City officials are divided on the decision to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. But the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways brought in a slew of pols including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Last year, after the superstorm hit the Peninsula, then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio attended the parade. This year, the mayor did not participate.

Reports surfaced claiming de Blasio said the Rockaway parade excluded some groups, but a spokesperson clarified and cited scheduling conflicts. He participated in Sunnyside’s parade, “St. Pat’s for All.”

Last weekend’s spectacle in the borough’s “Irish Riviera” brought in iconic curly-haired dancers, marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and more.

In early February, de Blasio announced he would break tradition and additionally boycott the annual Irish celebration in Manhattan after parade officials prohibited marchers from carrying gay-pride banners.

Ulrich reacted by saying the mayor’s decision was “truly unfortunate and disappointing.”

Parade planners have said gays are not banned from joining the procession on March 17, just from declaring any sexual orientation.

Following de Blasio’s announcement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on the boycott bandwagon and pledged to not march, but said individual councilmembers can make their own decision. Ulrich plans on marching “rain or shine.”

“The parade is a time to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland and the many contributions Irish Americans have made to our city, not anything else,” he said. “While I respect the mayor’s decision to not participate, I plan on marching rain or shine.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has said he supports gay rights, said he, too, will join the march through the city, which is reportedly expected to bring in about 1 million people.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Irish-Catholic, did not participate in the parade during her time in office. This year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Majority Leader Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer are among those who are also opting out.

 

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Op-ed: Make ferry service permanent


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER DONOVAN RICHARDS

I would like to start by commending the city for the fourth extension of ferry service to the Rockaway Peninsula. I would especially like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for extending the ferry service through May and keeping his word, as he remains dedicated to the recovery of Rockaway and New York City as a whole. Ferry services in the Rockaways have provided a much needed relief during an extremely trying time. The ferry has quickly become the preferred method of transportation to Manhattan for many people throughout the peninsula.

While we certainly are enjoying our time with the ferry, the threat of losing the service continues to loom over our heads. We have repeatedly been told that the service may just be temporary, that there would be yet another study or deadline, and that the service would be cut if ridership was poor. However, the ferry has continually maintained strong ridership, and it is time to put this ambiguity aside.

Rockaway needs a permanent ferry! Residents have had to deal with subpar transportation options for far too long, and Sandy has only made these shortcomings more apparent. Service may have been lacking on the best of days but became non-existent in the days following Sandy. Thousands of people were effectively stranded while still reeling from the devastation. While we simply were not prepared for a storm of that magnitude, that excuse only works once. We must never allow ourselves to be in that situation again.

While the need to improve our transportation infrastructure is obvious, there are many other ways this ferry has benefited New Yorkers. Commuters are getting to work faster; the ferry trip is peaceful, serene, and timely; the ease of travel also encourages visitors to come out and experience our beautiful beaches during the summer months, which is essential for local businesses still recovering from Sandy related losses. Anyone who has taken a trip on the ferry knows that it is as aesthetically pleasing as it is essential to our community.

The truth of the matter is that not only am I passionate about keeping the ferry, I am also very interested in creating another stop in Rockaway. While the ferry has maintained a strong ridership, this is a large peninsula. Creating a ferry stop between the center of the peninsula and Manhattan will increase ferry ridership and further address any concerns over small ridership. I have been working with the Economic Development Corporation and they have launched a study on the feasibility of extending the ferry.

I will not rest while these issues continue to plague my friends and neighbors. I know that the residents, community leaders, elected officials, and vacationers in Rockaway stand with me. I hope the rest of our city and the new administration will do the same.

Councilmember Donovan Richards represents the 31st District.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 29. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Some clouds. Low 18. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Powerful Arts of Cameroon

The Powerful Arts of Cameroon: the Collection of Amadou Njoya is a display of artifacts of the African Tribal Arts Kingdom at the QCC Art Gallery. The potent beauty of celebratory festivals, initiations and other traditional rituals will be conveyed through masterful objects made of wood, metal and terra cotta in the exhibit. Amadou Njoya is a fourth generation Cameroonian born into a family of distinguished artisans and advisors for the royal family of the Kingdom of Bamum. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter  

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

Black ice, power outages linger after winter storm slams tri-state

Black ice and power issues are lingering after Wednesday’s winter storm dumped freezing rain and snow on the region, coating roads and sidewalks with a slush that made travel treacherous amid a shortage of salt. Read more: NBC New York

City’s workers paid nearly twice salary of private sector: report

Municipal workers made nearly twice as much as their counterparts in the private sector in former Mayor Michael Bloom­berg’s last years in office — earning a median salary of $65,300 in fiscal year 2012, a new analysis found. Read more: New York Post

Prosecutors: Men sold knockoff handbags online, defrauded customers

Five men were indicted Wednesday, on charges offering real luxury handbags at discounted prices on several websites – but actually presenting consumers with knockoffs, or even with nothing at all. Read more: CBS New York

Warning about explosives smuggled in toothpaste tubes

The Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. Read more: AP

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.

Ashley Diaz, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

On Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., Diaz asked a neighbor to watch her daughter, Kevasia Edward, while she left her Beach 56th Place apartment for approximately 20 minutes to buy food, according to Brown.

While the neighbor was babysitting the toddler, the girl, who had been sleeping, allegedly woke up and appeared slightly pale and lethargic. The child said she was fine, but didn’t show any obvious signs of trauma to her face, the district attorney said.

Later that night, at about 11:15 p.m., Diaz called the neighbor, saying that her daughter was not breathing.  When the neighbor showed up to the apartment she allegedly found the child lying on the floor unresponsive and began to administer CPR. She then allegedly noticed Kevasia’s face was red and bruised, her lip was bleeding and her teeth pushed in and jutting out in different directions and missing, Brown said.

The neighbor’s sister then called 9-1-1, after learning the mother never did. Kevasia was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, arriving in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead just after midnight.

According to medical personnel at the hospital, Brown said, Kevasia had old and fresh bruising on her face, legs and torso, two rib fractures and scarring on her right foot consistent with a prior burn. Those injuries, however, were inconsistent with a story Diaz gave about her child having a seizure and falling to the ground.

Diaz allegedly said that her daughter was in good health and acting normal while she was her sole caregiver, from approximately Friday through Monday, with the exception of the time when the neighbor was watching her child.

She also allegedly said that at 9:30 p.m. Monday her daughter had a seizure and fell to the ground, Brown said. During that time, she allegedly admitted she sat with Kevasia for at least 30 minutes while she was unresponsive and not breathing, and did not call anyone for help until after 11 p.m. that night.

According to the autopsy report, Brown said, Kevasia allegedly suffered multiple fresh and old bruising to her face, neck, torso and legs, multiple scalp abrasions and lacerations, multiple scars of varying ages about her body and other markings consistent with trauma. The report’s preliminary medical findings were also consistent with abusive head trauma with multiple, violent impacts to her head and body, he said.

 

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Cops looking into death of Jamaica 2-year-old


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Police are investigating the death of a toddler after he was discovered unconscious at his Jamaica home Tuesday, the NYPD said.

Officers found the 2-year-old, who police identify as Naizer Reid, unresponsive inside his 156th Street residence about 3:15 p.m., cops said.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

The young boy’s death comes shortly after the death of another 2-year-old, a girl from the Rockaways, who was discovered unconscious in her home Monday night.

 

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Police investigating death of Rockaways toddler


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 4:15 p.m.

A 2-year-old is dead after she was found unconscious with bruising around her mouth in her Arverne home Monday night, cops said.

Officers, responding to a 9-1-1 call, found the girl, Kevasia Edwards, about 11:30 p.m. unresponsive inside her Beach 56th Place residence, police said.

She was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, cops said.

According to the New York Daily News, the child’s mother, who “had a history with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services,” was being questioned.

 

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Star of Queens: Martin Colberg, president, Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Martin Colberg is the president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), a civic association that addresses problems in the community of Woodhaven.

BACKGROUND: Colberg grew up in the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill areas, and has been in Woodhaven for the past 10 years.  Four years ago, Colberg attended his first WRBA meeting, and found the ideas of the association very interesting, saying “I was excited to put some more time and effort into my community.”

GOALS: Colberg has recently been named the new president of the WRBA, and is also the first Latino president, since the start of the association, 42 years ago. Colberg believes this to be a great representation of the growth and diversity in the neighborhood.

According to Colberg, his goal in the coming year will be to continue to get others involved in helping their community.

“I definitely want to concentrate on outreach, among other things in the coming year, just to get more numbers in our membership,” he said.

Colberg wants to concentrate on getting the younger generation involved in their community, hoping he can partner with schools or create a program, so that younger people can realize that they are needed.

BEST MEMORY:  One of Colberg’s best memories was watching his community come together to help those in need after Superstorm Sandy.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to watch so many members of the community put so much money, time and effort into helping those in need,” he said. Colberg recalled keeping the office open for a full week, as a drop-off station, and watching people come multiple times to give their time or make donations of clothes, food or money.

“I remember people getting to their last quarter tank of gas and still making one more trip to the Rockaways to help out.”

INSPIRATION: Colberg’s drive is just seeing others in his neighborhood get involved, saying, “in the fast-paced world that we are in, not a lot of people have that extra time to put into helping their community, but when they do show up, I feel like I have to help out as well.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: As the new president of the WRBA, his biggest challenge is yet to come.  Looking forward, he feels his challenge would just be to gain more exposure and get more people involved, which he believes he can accomplish by the end of the year.

 

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Astoria and LIC among Queens stops recommended for East River Ferry expansion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the East River Ferry

Queens could be the big winner from an expansion of the East River Ferry service if the city can find a spare $80 million to expand existing infrastructure and a private ferry company willing to pony up $10 million a year to run it.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released its preliminary 2013 Citywide Ferry Study earlier this week, in which it considered 58 potential new ferry stops, including some based on community recommendations, for the East River.

In the end, the NYCEDC recommended 11 possible spots. The areas in Queens include Astoria Cove, Long Island City North, and Beach 108th and 116th Street in the Rockaways, according to the report. Ferry service was also recommended looked into for LaGuardia Airport.

“In the span of only a few years, ferry service has become an integral part of the City’s transportation infrastructure, serving millions of passengers and providing momentum for continued development along the City’s waterfront,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball.

According to the report, these new routes would require “considerable capital and operating subsidies” and an expanded new network featuring the East River Ferry and the additional routes would require “an annual subsidy for weekday service of close to $10 million.”

The potential new stops would also require additional capital investment to construct docking stations which feature shelters, ticketing machines, benches, bike racks, and two-slip or single-slip barges.

Following the recent study, the possible ferry service expansion proposal will now be reviewed by local elected officials, leaders, private ferry companies and the community at large in order to discuss the specific new routes and how to fund them.

Currently the only East River Ferry stop in Queens is by Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City between 54th Avenue and 2nd Street.

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Op-ed: We cannot forget the Philippines


| oped@queenscourier.com

STATE SENATOR TOBY ANN STAVISKY

Just over a month ago, the strongest storm ever recorded crashed into the coast of the Philippines. Wreaking devastation over large swaths of Southeast Asia, Typhoon Haiyan has affected over 12 million people in the region and claimed thousands of lives. Even today, the death toll continues to rise. At press time, the latest count was over 6,000 casualties.

It sometimes can be difficult to fathom the magnitude of a storm’s destruction and damage from half a world away. When the victims do not share our common traditions, history or culture, we may feel only remotely affected but that does not diminish the need to help others.

I and many of my Filipino constituents have seen this growing apathy towards the storm’s aftermath, evident in waning press coverage and conversation about the disaster. Our feelings were confirmed by a recent Pew poll which found more Americans were following news about the healthcare rollout than the aftermath of Haiyan. Fundraising numbers also corroborate this—one week after the typhoon hit, Americans raised about $33 million for relief efforts compared to $300 million in the immediate wake of Haiti earthquake in 2010.

So let us be clear—the disastrous denouement of Typhoon Haiyan was total and utter destruction for millions.

New York had a very small taste of the damage that natural disasters can bring when Hurricane Sandy struck our shores just over a year ago. Our friends and family in Staten Island, the Rockaways and Coney Island watched as their cherished homes and livelihoods were swept away by the storm surge. And as New Yorkers, we responded and rallied around our neighbors.

I urge the people of Queens to see the victims of Typhoon Haiyan just as they saw and were moved to action by the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I urge you to treat them as your friends, your family, your neighbors.

Which for many residents of the 16th Senate District, is true. According to a recent Asian American Federation analysis, Filipinos make up the fourth-largest Asian group in New York City, with most Filipinos living in Queens. The 16th Senate District alone is home to more than 10,000 Filipinos who mostly live in Elmhurst and Woodside, more than any other district in the state.

Last week, my colleagues Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Daniel Dromm and I joined many Queens-based Filipino groups to observe the one-month anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan at a candlelight vigil and to review fundraising progress.

I was proud to stand with them that night and I pledge to stand with them until the rebuilding effort in the Philippines is finished. I hope you will join us.

Contributions can be made to the American Red Cross specifically to support Philippine typhoon relief at www.redcross.org. Various Filipino such as organizations Gawad Kalinga are also accepting donations and are able to deliver services with very low overhead costs.

If you are unsure if a non-profit is reputable, you should check their rating on Charity Navigator.

Toby Ann Stavisky, the first woman from Queens County elected to the State Senate and the first woman to Chair the Senate Committee on Higher Education. She currently represents the 16th Senate District.

 

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