Tag Archives: sandy

Beach 116th Street Partnership, businesses working together to get back on their feet


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Mark Mina watched his Rockaway Park storefront burn to the ground during Sandy, and over $1 million and priceless memorabilia go down with it. But today, his Beach 116th Street business has risen from the ashes.

“The storm just brought determination out and made us stronger every day,” said Mina, owner of MSM/Elite Production Consultants.

That October night, Mina said his company “lost everything, not even a paper clip was saved.” The landlord of the building called the night of the storm and said the place was up in flames.

“I ran down here with my truck. The fire chief tackled me to stop me from going in,” he said. “We sat and watched the building burn for about 12 hours. We couldn’t do anything.”

But the show had to go on, and Mina opened a temporary location in a John F. Kennedy International Airport warehouse.

Meanwhile, FEMA, Mina’s insurance company and Small Business Services said they couldn’t help him rebuild, and Mina paid about $130,000 out of pocket to rebuild what the superstorm took.

He set up shop on the second floor of a Beach 116th Street building and today says he’s “almost in the black again,” and the camaraderie amongst street business owners kept morale alive.

The Beach 116th Street Partnership was formed and “we weren’t alone,” Mina said.

“As we did feel in despair from government agencies, we worked and helped each other,” he said. “I just want to see this place prosper again.”

Krzysztof Sadlej, executive director of the partnership, said over a year after the storm, customer volume is “starting to pick back up, kind of to par.”

“We’re still gaining momentum,” he said.

Although Beach 116th Street is not completely whole, Mina said “good karma” is coming their way.

“There are still a lot of people healing,” he said. “But we have each other to lean on, to motivate and just get a hug if you need it.”

 

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City Comptroller Scott Stringer sits down with The Queens Courier


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

City Comptroller Scott Stringer sat down with The Queens Courier to discuss his first weeks in office and just where he plans to go from here.

“We hit the ground running,” he said. “It’s getting out and listening to what people say. If you want to do audits and identify people and agencies, you talk to people in the streets and get a very good idea.”

Stringer oversees the city’s $150 billion pension fund and also registers an average of 22,000 city contracts from every business concerning technology, to day care, to public housing.

For the start of his term, he has already audited public housing as well as the three separate public library systems.

He is a supporter of raising the minimum wage to $11 to accommodate the city’s price of living, and also an advocate for establishing a guaranteed revenue stream for universal pre-kindergarten. He believes in advancing public schools, namely in technology, to give students a fighting chance at a successful future.

Stringer has also made some changes internally intended to improve the efficacy of the comptroller’s office. He has proposed to ban placement agents, the “middle men” who have been involved in various past scandals, and brought in risk management professionals.

“I can’t audit an agency unless my own house is in order,” he said.

With The Courier,  Stringer covered borough-centric topics and expanded on how he plans to keep Queens, and the whole city, afloat financially.

“Nobody knows this city better than me,” he said.

 

What is your political background?

“Well, I haven’t told anyone this, but the first thing I wanted to be was a pro quarterback with the New York Jets. Then I realized early on by the age of 12, I was a little washed up,” Stringer said.

Stringer’s family had a foot in the political door when his mother ran for City Council. Growing up in Washington Heights, he thought “everyone was involved in government or politics.”

“I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do,” he said. “The job of comptroller has never been more important [than] with this new government. I have the opportunity to work on issues I really care about.”

Stinger said the city’s economic issues are “really about civil rights and about moving everybody to where they have to be.”

“The challenge we face in the city [is] how do we bring everybody along economically,” he said.

The MTA has suspended No. 7-train service from Long Island City to Flushing for 22 weekends. What economic impact for local businesses do you foresee?

“When you have a large transportation project that in the long run will modernize the system, that’s something that’s goal-worthy,” Stringer said. “But when you don’t plan the reconstruction with the community, when you don’t partner with the businesses, you end up sacrificing people.”

“You’re sacrificing people in the name of progress, you can’t do it that way,” he said.

As comptroller, Stringer said he can “follow the money,” and make sure it is “being spent wisely.”

Additionally, he wants to “elevate this office so New Yorkers know when they want to bring an issue to my attention, they know what this office can do and what we’re going to do.”

The city Build it Back program for Sandy victims has tested the patience of many residents still trying to rebuild. How do you plan on monitoring those funds, as well as the $15 billion the city is set to receive in federal recovery funding?

During Stringer’s campaign, he proposed creating a Sandy Audit Bureau, designed specifically to watch every dollar designated for storm recovery. He has followed through and said he and the bureau will look at contractors and will be “laser focused” in making sure the money goes where it should.

“Where we find corruption or misuse of money, I want to make it very clear to everyone we will make referrals to law enforcement agencies based on our findings,” Stringer said. “The worst that can happen is you get hit by two hurricanes, because somebody took money or didn’t do the work they said they were going to.”

The comptroller is also working with Councilmember Donovan Richards and others involved with the Sandy Tracker, an online database monitoring recovery money coming in and out of the city.

He also said the administration should extend the deadline for Build it Back so more people can gain access to the recovery assistance program.

 

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Goldfeder: Cell phone providers need to stay connected


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

In south Queens, one local leader wants the lines of communication open in the event of another superstorm.

After Sandy, thousands of the region’s residents were left without a lifeline for weeks, some for months – power was out, and cable and land-line service was gone as was cell reception.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder has hopes that cell phone service providers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, can build stronger cell towers and infrastructure throughout the region that will withstand the impact of any future weather disasters.

He will meet with Verizon and AT&T on Thursday to discuss upgrades and changes made thus far in preparation for another storm.

“Our inability to communicate via cell phone compounded the many issues brought on by Sandy,” Goldfeder said. “Communication is vital during a disaster.”

During the superstorm, the severe winds and flooding knocked out many cell towers.

“We cannot wait for another disaster to take action,” Goldfeder said. “Every company has a responsibility to their customers to invest in their infrastructure and towers to ensure that service will remain in place during our next potential disaster.”

 

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Pols push for St. John’s Hospital to be reimbursed for Sandy expenses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Local pols want to keep the lone Rockaway hospital from flat lining.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Sentator James Sanders sponsored a bill to bring $4.3 million to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital to reimburse them for expenses spent during and after Sandy.

“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.

During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.

“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Morning clouds will give way to afternoon sunshine. High 16. Winds NNW at 15 to 25 mph. Wednesday night: A few passing clouds. Low near 5. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Madden NFL: 25 Years and Running

Madden NFL: 25 Years and Running, at the Museum of the Moving Image examines the groundbreaking video game franchise Madden NFL. The exhibit takes a look at how the game has evolved and its place in culture, and features five playable games, from the original to the latest release. The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35 Avenue in Astoria. Through February 23.

NO SNOW DAY: NYC public schools are open Wednesday

All New York City public schools will remain open Wednesday, education officials announced, dashing hopes city students might have about getting a second snow day this month. Read more: The Queens Courier

Swirling snowstorm batters tri-state, breaks snowfall records

A swirling snowstorm broke breaking snowfall records as it battered the tri-state Tuesday, forcing schools and offices to close early, delaying flights and making the roadways a dangerous mess. Read more: NBC New York

Feds on board with $850M for Sandy subway fixes

The feds are going to give New York straphangers a break by kicking in more than $880 million for Hurricane Sandy repairs, officials announced Tuesday. Read more: New York Post

De Blasio brushes off state pre-K, will raise taxes anyway

A defiant Mayor de Blasio is vowing to go full speed ahead with plans to raise taxes on the city’s highest earners to pay for universal pre-K — even as Gov. Cuomo is offering to have the state foot the bill. Read more: New York Post

Former Gov. David Paterson, wife file for divorce

Former New York Gov. David Paterson and his wife have officially filed for divorce, more than a year after saying they were separating. Read more: CBS New York/AP

 

Queens pol has high hopes for Sandy Funding Tracker


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Councilmember Donovan Richards

Sandy recovery money is now under close inspection, and one Queens pol wants accountability for every dollar moving forward.

In November, Councilmember Donovan Richards introduced a bill that would track all funds related to superstorm recovery via an online database.

Before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg bid adieu to City Hall in late December, he signed the bill into law, along with 21 others. It will take effect in late March.

Richards said new Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration will carry out the bill as it was intended, making sure local jobs are created and devastated areas are rebuilt stronger than before.

“De Blasio spent a lot of time with us during the storm, helping and bringing out supplies,” Richards said. “It’s not like we have to convince him we have a need.”

The Workforce Center recently opened in the Far Rockaway Queens Library branch is also equipped to prepare local residents for the rebuilding job opportunities.

“These things all tie into what we want to do,” Richards said. “Twenty billion dollars is going to come through New York City over the next few years. We want to make sure it’s distributed [equally].”

The Sandy Funding Tracker provides a funding summary, which gives an overview of all recovery money by funding type and funding details, broken down by borough and individual.

“You can see where this money is and where it’s going,” Richards said.

In addition to tracking federal funding, all contractors doing work locally are required to disclose everything from the wages they pay workers to the area from which they hire these workers. This is meant to encourage contractors to fulfill local hiring mandates.

The tracker also provides detailed information about projects and programs in each major category of disaster relief funds, such as Build it Back, the city-sponsored recovery program.

For more information and to see the website’s progress thus far, click here. The website will continually be updated once the law goes into effect.

 

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Cuomo vows to continue fight against extreme weather


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

As temperatures plummeted in New York on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a heated speech outlining plans to build a new weather detection system, seal subways from floods and deputize citizens as emergency responders in the ongoing fight against extreme weather.

“[We are] reimagining New York for a new reality because we are facing a new New York after what we went through,” Cuomo said.

“Extreme weather is the new reality, like it or not.”

The governor was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who, Cuomo said, represented the federal government’s support in the state’s efforts to recover from the super storm last year.

“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the funding from the federal government,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s $17 billion plan included a more sophisticated weather detection system, with more stations throughout the state.

He also outlined the first massive reconstruction of the city’s subway system since it was created more than 100 years ago, with better protection of train yards. He said the state was looking into experimental seals to stop water from entering subway openings.

The energy system also showed vulnerability during Sandy, he said, prompting an urgency to raise substations out of flood zones, particularly on Long Island, and for critical underground lines to be strengthened.

Cuomo emphasized restoring coastal protection through natural green infrastructure by “replacing what Mother Nature had there in the first place.”

We need to revisit how we design homes near the coast, and other flood zones, and consider building structures on stilts, the governor said.

Following the fuel crisis during Sandy, backup generators were mandated downstate and New York became the first state to establish a strategic fuel reserve, which is now on Long Island. Both those initiatives will be extended statewide, Cuomo said.

The Governor said he wanted the state’s emergency responders and its citizens to be prepared for the next storm by establishing the first-ever statewide training program for emergency personnel and the country’s first college for emergency preparedness.

The state is also going to create a “Citizen First Responder Corps,” with the goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers for “what to do in case of an emergency,” he said.

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Bloomberg signs last bills as mayor, including indoor e-cigarette ban


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr / Photo by Edward Reed

Michael Bloomberg held a marathon bill signing session Monday, enacting his final 22 pieces of legislation as mayor, including an indoor ban on e-cigarettes.

The new law includes electronic cigarettes in the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act and will prohibit their use in restaurants, offices, parks, beaches and other public spaces.

“E-cigarettes heat up a chemical solution and emit vapors to provide its user with nicotine, the same highly addictive ingredient found in combustible cigarettes. The next generation of potential smokers could gravitate to getting their nicotine fix from these products,” Bloomberg said.

A protestor who was at the bill signing lit up a cigarette and read a statement against the smoking ban, according to published reports.

Additional legislation Bloomberg signed Monday included a bill that could lead to the ban of plastic foam containers following a year-long study to determine if the material can be recycled, and the creation of a database to track expenditures related to Sandy.

“EPS [Expanded Polystyrene] foam is a major source of litter, where it often breaks up into small pieces, littering our streets, waterways, catch basins, and neighborhood sidewalks. EPS foam also costs the city money. The city must pay $1.8 million annually to have it landfilled where it can sit for more than five hundred years,” Bloomberg said.

 

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Pol wants quicker Sandy recovery from state agency


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The push for quicker Sandy recovery continues, and now the pressure is on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC).

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder requested Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner, and the agency expedite all “permits related to recovery projects in the Sandy-damaged communities of southern Queens” to “wherever possible.”

“Our families are working around the clock to recover and rebuild from Sandy and every agency on every level of government must do the same,” Goldfeder said.

Families throughout Howard Beach, as well as Broad Channel and the rest of the Rockaways, continue to wait on approval for permits from various agencies, including the DEC, Goldfeder said.

Additionally, pols and residents want to see repairs to the Rockaway boardwalk as well as the area’s baffle walls.

“We need NYS DEC to expedite all permitting for our boardwalk,” said John Cori, Rockaway resident and co-founder of the Friends of Rockaway, “especially the retaining wall that will serve as a protective barrier and help in mitigation efforts to prepare our community for future storms.”

The boardwalk and walls, although designed and constructed by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Economic Development Corporation, need DEC approval before rebuilding efforts can move forward.

“If there is a lesson to be taken from Superstorm Sandy, it is that we cannot afford to wait,” Goldfeder said in a letter to Martens.

“Our families have been through enough suffering and there is no excuse for even a moment’s delay,” he said.


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Prayer vigil held to rally for Sandy victims whose homes are in disrepair


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Jean Ferrara-Rodriquez is living in a construction zone 14 months after the superstorm destroyed her West Hamilton Beach home.

“We are struggling from day to day,” said the single mother of a 14-year-old girl. “It’s been way too long of a process and way too slow.”

Faith in New York, a city-based, interfaith federation, hosted a prayer vigil outside Ferrara-Rodriquez’s home on Wednesday to rally for Sandy victims still suffering from the superstorm and call upon Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the new administration to make recovery a top priority.

De Blasio has spoken publicly about his vision to rebuild resilient communities and strengthen the city’s infrastructure following Sandy’s impact.

The floor, walls and windows of Ferrara-Rodriquez’s ground floor were replaced after Sandy, but a draft from the cold outside air can be felt close to the walls, and the windows offer little insulation, she said.

Repairs have been going on since February, but the 14-year West Hamilton Beach resident has a long road ahead. The floor and walls are still bare, wires and nails are visible and she has no appliances. Food and other items are dispersed throughout the first floor, and her refrigerated items are kept close to the wall so they can be kept cool by the draft.

She applied to Build it Back in August but said she has yet to hear anything from the city’s storm recovery program.

“It’s been two holiday seasons,” she said. “I’m just asking where are the funds we were promised, and why has it taken so long.”

Ferrara-Rodriquez evacuated her 164th Road home before the storm and moved from friends’ houses to a homeless shelter and finally to the Comfort Inn on Cross Bay Boulevard where she lived for 93 days.

She moved back to her damaged home in February, where she and her daughter lived on the second floor without heat. She said Rapid Repairs, the government-sponsored program to give storm victims immediate assistance, installed a boiler, which froze over and broke. The heat was fixed this season for the colder weather.

“We have lived in devastation, isolation and [have] seemingly been forgotten in this slow process of recovery,” said Father Fulgencio Gutierrez of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea parish in Far Rockaway at Wednesday’s vigil. “Our communities cannot wait another year.”

 

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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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Howard Beach’s P.S. 207 receives nearly $2M in storm recovery funds


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Twelve feet of water rushed into the basement of P.S. 207 during Sandy, leaving the Howard Beach school with over $2 million worth of damages.

Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced Monday roughly $1.82 million is on the way for repairs.

“It’s been over a year since Sandy tore apart our schools in southern Queens and while we have all made significant progress there is still work to be done,” Goldfeder said. “This new funding will enormously help P.S. 207 rebuild and ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve.”

The FEMA federal funds will go to the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) and will reimburse 90 percent of the cost of repairs throughout the building.

The bulk of the damage was in the flooded basement, where a fuel oil tank rolled and spilled about 3,000 gallons of oil. Two boilers, electrical panels, lights, ductwork and the fire alarm system were also damaged.

The damage left the school without electricity, heat and water, and closed in the months following the superstorm. Nearly 90,000 gallons of water and oil was removed from the building before it could reopen.

“This infusion of federal money is helping P.S. 207 put the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy in the rear-view mirror and enabling the school to get back to educating New York City’s children without crushing back-bills,” Schumer said.

 

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West Hamilton Beach fire crew gets new ambulances to replace ones lost during Sandy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Over a year after Sandy, two shiny new ambulances pulled up to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to replace the ones the storm took away.

“Things like this bring back a positive morale,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who got a ride in one of the new rigs after they were delivered on Thursday.

“Anything we can do to get back to the point of how we were before Sandy, or better than we were before Sandy,” he said.

Before the superstorm, the crew moved one ambulance from the beach town, which is below sea level, to “higher ground” at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center on 84th Street. It survived, but sustained some damage. The other truck was unsalvageable.

After the floods ravaged West Hamilton Beach, the roughly 45-man department received ambulance donations from Long Island and has since been operating status-quo with two ambulances.

But now, more safety and security has been delivered with the brand new rigs, upping West Hamilton Beach’s ambulance count to four.

“This will be a help to the community like everything else,” said Jonah Cohen, the department’s fire chief.

Now, the emergency crew can work without worrying about a vehicle breaking down, Cohen said.

“They’re first responders who are in a unique, isolated area,” Addabbo said. “When there’s any kind of emergency, severe storm, everyone looks to them. I’m speechless by the work they do here.”

The fire department needs two ambulances to operate efficiently. They will primarily use the new vehicles, keep one for back-up and donate the last to another volunteer fire department.

“To get two rigs that could help in a life-endangering situation, this is a life-changer,” Addabbo said.

 

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FEMA releases preliminary flood insurance rate maps


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Preliminary flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) were released Thursday as the next step in FEMA’s coastal Flood Insurance Study.

Insurance rates could go up by hundreds of dollars for homeowners in flood-prone areas, specifically those in south Queens affected by Sandy. Maps will go into effect in 2015.

Following this release, a 90-day appeal and comment period will be opened in spring 2014. Those interested will be able to submit comments to the city online.

Once the appeal is over and all issues are resolved, FEMA will issue a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) to the city that will initiate a six-month adoption period before the maps become effective.

The city has additionally signed into law revised building codes which require standards reflect new and substantially improved structures as detailed in the preliminary FIRMs.

For more information on maps, click here.

 

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Star of Queens: Devon Michael O’Connor, president and founder, Welcome To Whitestone


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

image

NIKKI DJOKOVICH

Community Service: In 2011, Devon Michael O’Connor formed the non-profit Welcome To Whitestone Commercial and Residential Civic Association (WTW).  This fourth generation Whitestone resident gave other area residents and local businesses a voice backed by an association that would address their issues and concerns. WTW has formed relationships with other local associations, political leaders and city organizations in order to ensure action on the public’s issues and concerns. The association also promotes and produces family-fun events that benefit the local community.

Background: “This is my home. I’ve played in all the parks, graduated from the local schools and I shop in the local businesses. Now, as a business owner myself, I continue to urge the residents of Whitestone to support their local businesses,” O’Connor said.  To quote a friend of O’Connor’s, “It’s important to keep the unity in community.”

Favorite Memory: O’Connor’s most inspirational and spiritual memory is when he began collecting needed supplies for all who were affected by Sandy. Backed by an immense amount of support from the community, his civic group managed, in under 48 hours, to collect, sort and deliver over 600 large bags of food, clothing and toiletries to several shelters in the Rockaways.

Biggest Challenge: “One of the biggest challenges I faced was overcoming the political opposition I received when forming my civic group,” O’Connor said. He is very grateful for the Whitestone community being so accepting of the various projects that WTW has implemented.

Inspiration: O’Connor is inspired by individuals that understand that the future is a direct result of what is done in the present. Also by the people who are able to find solutions to the problems that others may have given up on. “If your goals are for the purpose of benefiting others in a positive way, the word ‘can’t’ is not an option,” says O’Connor.

 

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