Tag Archives: YMCA

Excitement abounds at Everything Kids Expo in LIC


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos by Corey Aguirre

Music, prizes and activities for all ages kept the crowd lively at the recent Everything Kids Expo at the Long Island City YMCA.

Now in its third year, the annual Everything Kids Expo – sponsored by The Queens Courier – has become a local tradition for the community, and this year marks the event’s second time at the YMCA. The festivities were planned to coincide with a nationwide initiative the volunteer organization hosts on April 25 to promote the well-being of children.

Ebony Young, executive director of the Long Island City YMCA, said that the event is a great way to put into practice the fundamental three pillars of the worldwide organization: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

“It’s an opportunity for kids and families to come out and understand the importance of their wellbeing, mind, body and spirit,” Young said.

Youngsters big and small had active fun, whether they were playing educational word games with Reading Town, taking part in a live karate demonstration by YMCA students, or dancing and singing to popular songs.

Some lucky kids were even able to experience a sample lesson from Long Island City music school Sage Music.

“My favorite part was when I got to play with the drums,” said LaQuwan Carter, age 11.

Although there was much for children to enjoy at the event, many of the booths provided parents with important information on how families can maintain robust lifestyles through athletic activity and healthy eating. Day camps and personal chefs spoke to the community alongside representatives from health care providers, who spread awareness about the importance of having adequate health insurance.

“You never know when you’re going to get sick, so it’s always good to have some type of healthcare,” said Giomar Reyes of Wellcare. “Medicine right now is very expensive, doctor’s appointments are very expensive.”

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YMCA questions its place in Flushing Commons project


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Flushing YMCA

A new recreational center is being built at Flushing Commons, but questions remain as to whether the Flushing YMCA will operate it.

Paul Custer, senior vice president of government affairs for the YMCA of Greater New York, told The Courier in an exclusive interview that the nonprofit organization is looking for answers regarding the project in planned meetings with Flushing Commons’ developers, F&T Group, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The Flushing Y came on board with the Flushing Commons plan as the project’s “community benefit.” Original plans called for the new Flushing Y — which currently operates out of a 90-year-old building on Northern Boulevard — to be created on the second and third floors of a building erected during the project’s first phase.

Those plans, however, were amended in 2009 as a result of economic issues related to the project, Custer said. As part of a redesign, the Flushing Y was relocated to the basement of a retail and commercial building called “The Elm” to be constructed at the corner of 39th Avenue and 138th Street.

“It’s not a very viable place,” Custer said. “It’s kind of hard to make it a community center [from the basement].”

The changes, he noted, compromise the YMCA’s goals transforming its Flushing chapter into a 21st-century community center, allowing it to offer new programs and existing initiatives while also removing any physical obstacles preventing people from participating in them.

Michael Meyer of the F&T Group told The Courier that the group mutually agreed to explore “alternative locations or alternative buildings” at the Flushing Commons site for the Flushing Y.

“We will explore that with them and hopefully we’ll find a way to get there,” Meyer said. “But that’s all on the drawing boards and there’s no certainty.”

In future meetings with F&T Group and city representatives, Custer hopes the Flushing Y could find a more viable place at Flushing Commons. If that goal can’t be fulfilled, he noted, the Y will need to explore other alternatives while continuing to maintain an aging facility. It has reached out to local elected officials for assistance.

Meyer said the Flushing Y “has a home in Flushing Commons” and the F&T Group will construct a recreational center in the project, as required in its deal with the city. Should the Flushing Y choose to no longer participate in the project, he said, the F&T Group would seek another organization to operate the recreational center.

“We’re still building the facility,” he added. “That’s our agreement with the city. There’s no doubt about that.”

One elected official involved in the process, Councilman Peter Koo, was optimistic that a deal could be reached.

“The proposed YMCA in Flushing Commons would provide a tremendous boon to our community,” Koo said in a statement to The Courier. “I have encouraged both sides to come to the table to discuss how the project will move forward and remain optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached between the two parties.”

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Neighborhood’s finest food sampled at Taste of Ridgewood


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Community members joined local civic and elected officials on Thursday to celebrate Taste of Ridgewood, the annual fundraising dinner and awards ceremony held to benefit the Ridgewood YMCA.

The event featured an assortment of sweet and savory cuisine from over 20 local eateries. Ridgewood’s rich diversity was represented in a wide range of dishes, including local Italian, Mexican, Greek, Latin, New American and Nepalese fare.

In addition to the tasting portion of the event, Taste of Ridgewood also included a special awards ceremony to honor state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Linda Monte, president of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, and Madeline Taub-Chan, superintendent of Community School District 24.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

“The Y is an integral part of our community,” Addabbo said. “With the Y, our families are healthier, our communities are stronger and our students are smarter.” The senator announced that $500,000 from this year’s state budget would be allocated for the Alliance for the YMCA, with another $200,000 allocated for the YMCA of Greater New York.

Monte was recognized for her continued work with the St. Matthias Girl Scouts, as well as her preservation efforts through the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society. Monte was instrumental in helping to restore and obtain landmark status for the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House on Flushing Avenue.

“She is a living embodiment of the Girl Scout Law,” Donna Dowd said. “She has brought fun, confidence building and education to generations of girls and their leaders in our neighborhood and state.”

Monte praised the YMCA for providing valuable childcare services to working mothers and families at a time where such services were scarce. “I think it’s important for us not only to preserve our buildings, but our character and our culture,” she said.

Taub-Chan was also honored for her work as an educator and her commitment to expanding educational programs throughout the community.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley was also on hand to present special proclamations to both Monte and Chan for their work within the community. The audience was also treated to a performance from the Grover Cleveland High School Y Step Team.

Crystal River Williams and Dee Plowman, co-owners of Norma’s Cafe on Catalpa Avenue, received the first-ever Innovator Award.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

“Norma’s is a community-driven, small and intimate cafe that has a menu made up of local finds specific to the neighborhood,” said LaKeisha Harris, executive director of the Ridgewood YMCA. “The cafe is not only a coffee shop. It provides a warm ambiance for Ridgewood residents. They help support local entrepreneurs by using the space to display and sell the work of Ridgewood artists.”

Brian Taveras, a local high school junior enrolled in the music and YMCA Scholars Program, hosted the awards ceremony. Taveras shared his own personal struggles and explained how the YMCA was instrumental in improving his life.

“It’s hard being a teen,” Taveras said. “A year ago, I didn’t know where I was going. The Y gave me an outlet and multiple opportunities. I used to be a closed book, but the Y helped me to be confident and share my stories. The support given to teens through the Y is very important.”

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Ridgewood Y director knows community service


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

As the executive director of the Ridgewood YMCA, Lakeisha Harris knows what it means to serve her community.

Serving the community comes naturally to Harris, having earned her master’s degree in social work.

“I have always been interested in giving back to children and families … and it’s exciting to be able to do it in Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and the communities that we serve,” Harris said. “That’s why I became a social worker to begin with, is to work in the community and be able to provide needed services to people who are unable, for whatever reason, to provide it themselves.”

Harris credited her mother for being her inspiration for getting into social work. Having worked hard to be where she is today, Harris emulates her mother and her work ethics.

“Because of what she went through is why I decided to be a social worker to begin with, to really help other kids and families who might also be struggling and need some encouragement, some support to get through. I think I’ve been able to do the things I’ve been able to do because of her,” Harris said of her mother.

“She’s just really resilient, really strong, and really passionate,” she added. “I still emulate her and when I get to be her age, I want to be where she is.”

One of the challenges Harris faces as executive director of the Ridgewood Y is having “high expectations.”

“I think the organization has high expectations and I think it’s making those expectations happen with limited resources,” she said.

But meeting those challenges leads to great success. Seeing and hearing the success stories of the people who use the Y is one of the best parts of her job, Harris said.

Being a prominent woman of color in the community, Harris said, “I love that we have Black History Month. It’s definitely an opportunity for me to hear more about what black people have done.”

“I definitely hope that what I do at the Y is an example for other brown and black children,” Harris said. As a mother, Harris hopes that her son is informed of the people of color who have done amazing things in the past, and even today.

Tucked away off Fresh Pond Road at 69-02 64th St., the Ridgewood Y (formerly known as the Catalpa YMCA) has been there since 1931 and previously served as the Queens County Magistrate’s Courthouse. The YMCA of Greater New York purchased the building from the city in 1965.

Renovations were made to the building in 2011, transforming it into a state-of-the-art facility complete with a gym, an early childhood educational facility and other amenities.

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Officials break ground on $1B Flushing Commons development


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy TDC Development International


Flushing’s nearly $1 billion project finally got off the ground. 

Officials broke ground Monday on Flushing Commons, a massive mixed-use residential and commercial development that will transform more than five acres of land in downtown Flushing.

The project will offer new retail opportunities, community facilities, 1,600 parking spaces, a large public plaza and a 62,000-square-foot YMCA with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track.

“Today is a good day for the Flushing community. After much delay, we are finally breaking ground on a project that promises to create jobs, housing and economic activity,” Councilman Peter Koo said. “Once this project is completed, it could play a significant role in cementing Flushing’s transformation into an economic powerhouse.”

Flushing Commons will be built in two phases, which developers said will reduce the level of construction and traffic congestion in the area.

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Phase 1, which is expected to be completed in 2017, includes approximately 219,000 square feet of office and retail space, 150 units of housing and a 982-space parking lot.

The second phase will comprise about 242,000 square feet of office and retail space, 450 residential units, 618 additional parking spaces, the YMCA, and a 1.5 acre public plaza called The Green at Flushing Commons. Phase 2 is expected to be completed by 2021.

 

 

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Stats show universal pre-K’s limited reach in western, central Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in parts of western and central Queens got into the pre-K of their choice, the lowest percentage of matched applicants in all of New York City.

Parents in Queens District 24 — Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village — must now search for an alternative to public schools.

According to the Department of Education, the majority of parents with 4-year-olds — 70 percent — in the district recently received letters informing them that the public pre-K of their choice was already full.

In comparison, in Manhattan’s District 1 only 10 percent of applicants were unmatched and, overall, 38 percent of applicants throughout New York City were unmatched.

“Every single school in this district is overcrowded,” said Nick Comaianni, president of School Board District 24. “In the past we’ve actually had to get rid of pre-K seats to make room for kindergarten to fifth grade.”

As the city changes gears for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aim to make pre-K universal, the DOE is using community-based organizations like local YMCAs and mom-and-pop pre-K programs to scoop up the applicants that didn’t get into a public school pre-K.

But Comaianni, who has been president of the board for 11 years, believes that the mayor’s office and the DOE are moving too fast.

“Someone should’ve done their homework before pushing pre-K through so quickly,” he said, noting that since the schools in the district are already overcrowded, there is no extra space for more students. “You can’t have pre-K if you don’t even have second grade.”

The DOE is opening up 53,000 full-day seats through community-based organizations in time for the new school year in September. While this will still leave some toddlers behind, by next year there will be 73,250 seats, enough to put every 4-year-old in New York City in school, according to education officials.

Which is just fine, Comaianni said, but warned: “In our haste to open these seats let’s hope we have qualified people who can teach pre-K and it’s not just a baby-sitting center.

Queens by school district:

Source: Office of Student Enrollment

 

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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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Department of Buildings reviewing Flushing Commons permit


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the long-stalled $850 million Flushing Commons project have filed their first permit with the city’s Department of Buildings, according to Crain’s and city officials.

A DOB spokesperson said the department received and will review an application from TDC Development International and The Rockefeller Group.

The near decade-old project will bring housing and retail to downtown Flushing but, according to Crain’s, construction has to begin by October 31, under a contract between the city and developers.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000- square-feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) said.

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

A 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, will headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said. The second phase includes more housing, commercial and community space.

Developers want to modify a portion of Municipal Lot 1 in downtown Flushing, though NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky said existing parking spaces would be maintained during construction.

There will be a total of 1,600 parking spaces — an increase of 500 — at the project’s completion, according to officials.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, the NYCEDC said.

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

 

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Queens teen’s speech to Congress: YMCAs are powerful


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Y

As 14-year old Kayla Brathwaite sat on a train heading to the nation’s capital, she rehearsed the speech she would give in front of Congress.

Brathwaite, a resident of Ozone Park and a student at Park East High School in Manhattan, spoke in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on March 13, urging them to continue giving $1.15 billion in funding to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Brathwaite said she’s been going to her local YMCA after-school program since she was eight and felt the need to give back to the program.

“It’s been such a large influence on my life,” Brathwaite said.

During her testimony, Brathwaite said the YMCA has influenced countless lives, including her own.

“I am here today for all youth who need these programs to succeed and for all parents who need these programs to help keep their jobs and for the employers who employ those parents,” she said in her written testimony. “We should not forget that these programs or the lack of these programs will have an effect on our economy.”

The teen has had experience in dealing with government officials in the past. Back in 2012, Brathwaite introduced First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. at a Partnership for a Healthier America summit, an opportunity that was provided to her through the YMCA.

Currently, Brathwaite participates in the Teens Take the City program, where teens imitate how local governments work, passing laws and ordinances. She hopes to become a counselor for the upcoming summer session.

“I think the YMCA can help everybody,” she said. “If you didn’t have an opportunity to go, it’s never too late.”

-BY ANTHONY O’REILLY 

 

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Flushing Commons finally moves forward


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

The long-delayed Flushing Commons project is finally starting this fall, with accommodations for parking and small business, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has announced.

The $850 million project, a decade in the making, got the green light Tuesday, March 12, and construction is planned to start later this year. The two-phase project will include more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of commercial space and one of the largest YMCAs in the country.

“The new plan, which will maintain all existing parking spaces during construction, is the culmination of years of work to address community concerns,” said NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky. “We now look forward to the start of this critical project that will create thousands of jobs and a major mixed-used destination, complete with open space and a brand-new YMCA.”

More than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs are projected to come from this project.

A deal between the city and developers, The Rockefeller Group and Flushing-based TDC Development and Construction Corporation, is expected to be inked sometime this summer, according to the NYCEDC.

When the project is complete, there will be a total of 1,600 parking spaces, a 500-slot increase from what is currently there.

To ease parking problems and not disturb business, the project was split into two phases beginning first with the south side.

The 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, will headline the first phase of the project. Other components include 160 units of housing, 350,000 square feet of commercial space and a 1.5 acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

Phase 2 will have an additional 450 housing units, another 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 square feet of community space.

Borough President Helen Marshall said the phase split “also addresses the need for adequate parking during construction.”

Surrounding small businesses that could be affected by construction might be eligible for EDC’s business interruption program. The program, with $2.25 million set aside, can help eligible business owners with outreach and other means.

 

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Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. South wind 6 to 11 mph. Thursday night: Showers likely, mainly after 2am. Increasing clouds, with a low around 59. Southeast wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Screening of “Manos: The Hands of Fate”

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens man arrested for Federal Reserve bomb plot

A Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed was a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan this morning, said the FBI. Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Jamaica, traveled to the U.S. this January specifically to take part in a terrorist attack, said the agency. Read more: Queens Courier

Game 4 of ALCS between Yanks, Tigers postponed due to threat of rain

For the second straight year, the weather has intruded on a New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers playoff game. And for the second straight year, Yankees ace CC Sabathia is the player most affected by it. Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the AL Championship Series was delayed for about 1 hour, 10 minutes because of anticipated storms in the area, which had not arrived when the game was officially called off but did come later Wednesday night. Read more: ESPN

‘Beyonce’ rooms for affluent new moms at Lenox Hill Hospital are putting newborns at risk: nurses

Affluent new moms are getting a suite deal at Lenox Hill Hospital: Posh $1,700-a-night, full-service “Beyoncé” rooms staffed at the expense of less fortunate city mothers, veteran nurses charge. The executive suites, including the one where the mega-star delivered baby Blue Ivy in January, receive nearly one-on-one nursing care. Two floors above, up to 18 newborns are sometimes tended by a single nurse. Read more: Daily News

Police officer killed in crash on LIE

A deadly crash on the eastbound Long Island Expressway Thursday morning has forced the closure of all eastbound lanes near Exit 34/New Hyde Park Road. A Nassau County Police Officer was killed in the collision at about 4:45 a.m. The officer had gotten out of his patrol car at the scene when he was struck and killed by another vehicle, reports FOX 5 News’ Robert Moses. Read more: NY Post

Long-delayed YMCA at Arverne by the Sea ready to open in 2013

The long-delayed YMCA slated for the Arverne by the Sea housing development in the Rockaways is set to open in the summer of 2013, officials said Wednesday. The 44,000-square-foot facility at Beach 73rd St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. will house the largest aquatic center of any YMCA in the city, an outdoor multi-purpose sports field and a 6,500-square-foot gymnasium, officials said. Read more: Daily News

Weapons sold at day-care center, feds charge

This day-care center was armed to the teeth. Authorities yesterday smashed a gun-dealing ring operated by members of three violent Brooklyn motorcycle gangs — including a man who allegedly sold high-powered weapons and stored explosives at the Queens home where his wife runs a licensed day-care center. Read more: NY Post

Stay safe in backyard pools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

• Learn how to swim. The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation offers free lessons to both children and adults. The courses take place in three summer sessions throughout July and August and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at four Queens pools — Astoria, Fort Totten, Fisher and Liberty. Registration for sessions two and three are still open.

• Use of the pool should always be supervised by an adult who knows pool rules and emergency procedures and who can swim.

• The area should have a secure fence surrounding the pool with childproof locks to guard against unsupervised swimming. A fence is necessary even if the pool is located directly outside of patio doors. The gates should be locked when no adult is present.

• Establish pool rules and post them near the pool. Don’t allow running or horseplay around the pool. Be careful with inflatable toys that may deflate unexpectedly. Use only unbreakable containers in the pool area.

• Take benches and chairs away from the pool area when finished swimming and remove toys from the pool to discourage children from climbing over the fence and back in to retrieve them.

• Be prepared for emergencies. Have a long pole, a ring buoy with a throwing line and a first aid kit nearby. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Get training in lifesaving, first aid and CPR.

— Melissa Chan and YMCA of Greater New York

Free Hands-on CPR at YMCA


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The YMCA is hosting a free CPR class at its Bellerose facility, located at 238-10 Hillside Avenue. The class will last approximately 30 minutes and will teach participants how the hands-only technique can save a life.

If you are 12 years old or older and you are interested in this CPR class, you may attend sessions on December 8 and 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 718-479-0505, or visit the web site ymcanyc.org/crossisland.

Flushing YMCA hosts Community Service Awards Dinner


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Flushing YMCA hosted its 11th annual Community Service Awards Dinner to benefit the youth and teens of the local communities at the Kum Gang San Restaurant. The “Special Award for Distinguished Public Leadership” went to Borough President Helen Marshall, and the “YMCA Community Service Award” was presented to Paul Ho, senior VP, Flushing Bank.

League ends season by hitting it out of the park


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Like all good things, the Long Island City YMCA Youth Baseball League’s season has come to an end.

To mark its completion, a ceremony was held at Queensbridge Park on Saturday, September 17.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer attended the event and distributed awards to the league’s young sluggers. Van Bramer, a supporter of youth athletics and an avid baseball fan, has allocated over $100,000 to the Long Island City YMCA.

“I am proud to be able to support the Long Island City YMCA’s Youth Baseball League at Queensbridge,” said Van Bramer. “I remember hours of enjoyment as a kid playing baseball right here in Long Island City on Bryant High School’s field. Team sports, like baseball, give young people something fun and active to do, while teaching valuable lessons like sportsmanship, teamwork and the importance of practice.”

Each year, hundreds of kids from the community participate in the Youth Baseball League, which lasts from July to September. The YMCA also organizes football, basketball and bowling leagues at no cost to members.