Tag Archives: Volunteer

Queens student turns garbage into money, gives back to library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Queens Library


Someone’s garbage can be turned into someone else’s future, according to 14-year-old student Kashfia Zaman.

The Woodside resident is a sophomore at Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria who began a community service project after a teacher suggested students become involved in starting a volunteer project.

As part of the project, Zaman collects discarded bottles and cans, deposits them for cash, donates the money to the Queens Library at Long Island City, located at 37-44 21 St., and then asks local businesses to match the amount she collects.

“I thought to do something concerning the environment because of global warming,” said Zaman, who hopes to one day be a software engineer or computer programmer. “So I thought about recycling bottles and cans. And I remembered in my elementary school there was a teacher who, when she recycled bottles and cans, she would cash them in to help her sister, whose house fell down in a tornado. So I got all this money, and I decided to do something for the community.”

With the help of her teacher, Zaman drafted a written pledge and asked businesses to sign. She has received matching funds from Astoria business such as Imagination Unisex Hair Designer at 25-01 Newton Ave., Anthia Digenakis of Function Enhancing Physical Therapy at 32-76 31st St. and Guillermo Hung of Pao & Cha Cha at 23-03 Astoria Blvd.

“I decided to give it to the library because the library has always been a very important thing to me. It was always there for me. I could always go to the library and request as many books as I want,” she said.

So far, Zaman has collected more than $120 and purchased new books for tweens, children between 10 to 12 years old, at her library. She said she decided to help get books for younger children because she wants to help them get into the habit of reading and become inspired to volunteer and help out in their communities.

“I was completely blown away by the vastness of her project and I was excited to buy books for our children,” said Tienya Smith, community library manager at Queens Library at Long Island City.

Zaman said that she and a friend are also in the process of creating a website in which they discuss the importance of keeping more libraries open during the weekends, in order for students to have access to do their homework or use the Internet.

“On the website we have letters and pictures explaining why we would want to keep the libraries open on weekends,” she said. “My friend and I are also writing a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him if he could make a little more space in the budget for libraries.”

 

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Program seeks volunteers to help the elderly


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Chris Schneider

Chris Schneider spent 33 years as a social studies teacher before he joined the Northeast Queens Senior Services. Now, as program manager, he spends his time finding volunteers to visit lonely seniors.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Schneider. “The elderly seem to be forgotten. Today, it’s becoming frequent that children don’t live near their parents because of jobs, and the elderly are left alone. Many get lonely, and we help to fill that void.”

The program — which is funded by Meals on Wheels and sponsored by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens — pairs seniors in northeast Queens with compassionate volunteers. Schneider said, among many activities, volunteers play cards, take a walk and watch television with seniors.

Schneider also gets in touch with seniors who have meals delivered to their homes. When someone needs more than a meal, Schneider said he pays a visit to assess their needs and matches them with volunteers.

Schneider, a seven-year long program veteran, said Northeast Queens Senior Services is rewarding for both the volunteers and for the seniors. According to Schneider, some pairs have been together for six months and some as long as five years.

“It’s tremendous for seniors because they know they’re just a call away from being able to spend time with someone, and volunteers get a great deal of satisfaction being able to help someone who has no one,” he said.

Constantly on the search for volunteers, Schneider said he visits any place from colleges and high schools to churches and synagogues. While he said the program has about 45 to 50 who donate their time, Schneider said the number is not enough.

To become a volunteer, contact Chris Schneider at 516-641-7541.

Star of Queens: Anna Marie Neubauer


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Anna Marie Neubauer

Anna Marie Neubauer
Volunteer

Dancing Dreams

Community Involvement:

Seventeen-year-old Anna Marie Neubauer has been a volunteer at Dancing Dreams, an organization that helps little girls with developmental disabilities learn to dance, for six years.

“It’s just something I love to do,” said Neubauer, who acts as a “helper” for an 11-year-old Dancing Dreams participant named Monica. Every week, Neubauer attends dance sessions with Monica where she assists her with twirls, bends and lifts. Dancing Dreams was started by Joann Ferrara, a physical therapist who created the program after a young patient expressed desire to become a dancer.

Personal:

Neubauer is a senior at Archbishop Molloy High School. She lives in Whitestone with her parents and older brother, a student at Loyola University in Maryland. When she is not at school, Neubauer enjoys spending time with her friends and going skiing. Neubauer did not have any dancing experience prior to Dancing Dreams.

Challenge:

Neubauer feels that volunteering has no challenges, just rewards. “I enjoy [participating in Dancing Dreams]” said Neubauer. “It’s helped me grow a lot, and it fulfills me to see how just a little bit of help can help these girls.”

Favorite Memory:

The recitals are Neubauer’s favorite part of Dancing Dreams. “I love seeing the looks on the girls’ faces when their dreams are coming true,” said Naubauer, who also said that her dancer, Monica, has made volunteering for Dancing Dreams a wonderful experience.

Inspiration:

Neubauer first discovered Dancing Dreams when she was a patient of Ferrara’s, and has been volunteering ever since. Her main inspiration, however, comes from the girls themselves. “[The girls] are my inspiration,” said Neubauer. “To see their hard work – they look so beautiful doing it.”

Star of Queens: Princy Ann Abraham


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Volunteer at St. Nick’s Men’s Shelter

Community Involvement: Through Campus Ministry at St. John’s University, Princy Ann Abraham discovered St. Nick’s Men’s Shelter in Jamaica, where homeless men around the city are brought for dinner and overnight accommodation. Abraham works with other volunteers to cook complete dinners for small groups of men. After cooking, she sits down to enjoy dinner and conversations with the individuals.
Personal: Abraham was born and raised in Rockland County, New York. She currently lives in Queens, where she is an active student at St. John’s. During her free time, she loves to kick box and enjoys trying different forms of dance, including two Indian forms – bharatanatyam and bhangra. She feels that maintaining as much physical activity as possible is the best way for her to release any negative energy.

Occupation: A full time undergraduate student studying legal studies, philosophy and government & politics, she will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in May and plans on going to law school shortly after. She also works on campus with the Department of Student Development to serve as a liaison between first year students and the university.

Biggest Challenge: “Sometimes it is difficult to make the individuals as comfortable as possible at the shelter. We try to keep dietary restrictions in mind when we cook each meal. We also limit ourselves from sensitive topics to make sure the men are in a positive and supportive atmosphere. I do my very best to assure the men that they can talk to us about anything, but sometimes they do not converse with us.”

Favorite Memory: “One day the meal we made (tacos and rice) was completely devoured in a matter of minutes. I am still learning how to cook, so this made me very happy.”

Inspiration: “My inspiration to volunteer is knowing that I am capable of making a difference in the lives of individuals no matter how great or small. In the future, I want to have the knowledge and resources available to address women’s issues and ethical dilemmas. I think it is important to humble yourself and understand the predicaments others are going through.”

Ana Rivera


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Woodside on the Move volunteer

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Ana Rivera has volunteered for Woodside on the Move for the past three years in helping tenants with housing problems. “We help as many people as we can in the community with housing problems like Major Capital Improvement that landlords add to your rent for services that they shouldn’t be adding on. It’s an injustice.” She also helps address issues tenants are having with landlords such as “non-working security cameras, doorbells and by showing up to housing court for their cause.” Rivera believes that it is important for people to “gather together and fight against unfair charges and against landlords who don’t make [necessary] repairs to the apartments.”
INSPIRATION: She was inspired to volunteer with Woodside on the Move because they helped fight a problem she was having with a leak in her apartment and the complaints that went unaddressed for two and a half years. “I thought I was alone before but now I feel that there are so many and that we can make a difference. It’s not only one person’s problem, but many. We try to educate. Woodside on the Move really helped me get the problem solved.”

PERSONAL: Rivera, 68, is currently a retired building superintendent. Working with Meltzer and Meltzer she managed clerical work, supply ordering, assisted the plumber, among other things for approximately 40 years with her husband. After retirement she attended classes for the elderly such as art and ballroom dance at LaGuardia Community College class for “self improvement and [increased] self esteem.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Following through to help others sometimes is a big challenge,” Rivera said. She said that it is well worth the initial stress to help others because the results are fruitful. “When it’s a whole community that shows the same help and we all get together and show our voices … [it’s better] than one person doing it alone,” said Rivera.

FAVORITE MEMORY: “Gathering together and working together with everyone in March 2011 we went to visit the new housing commissioner in Albany,” said Rivera, who takes care of her grandchildren during her free time. “We expressed what our community needed: that major capital improvement notices should be sent in different languages and real rent reform.”

DREAM: “I hope to see the changes and improve our community for our tenants. We want our rents to be stable so we don’t have to go away from our home…we want our children and grandchildren to be raised in the same community as us. I hope all the hard work we are doing pays off,” Rivera said. – Salimah Khoja