St. Michael’s dedicates facuty room to Sisters

St. Michael’s Catholic Academy at 136-58 41st Avenue in the Flushing honored the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood at a plaque dedication ceremony in the school’s faculty room.
The Sisters of St. Joseph maintained a strong presence at St. Michael’s since shortly after the school opened in 1851, where they served as administrators, teachers, and counselors.
Sister Tesa Fitzgerald and Sister Joan Gallagher represented the Sisters of St. Joseph at the ceremony. They were joined by Sister Miriam Blake, the last nun to serve as principal, as well as her former assistant, Sister St. William McMahon.
Sister Blake and Sister McMahon are the last Sisters of St. Joseph to serve on the staff at St. Michael’s.
“For over 150 years while ministering at St. Michael’s School, the Sisters of St. Joseph showed strength and courage to face the challenges of the times in Flushing, and globally in their mission as women religious,” said Principal Maureen Rogone. “Their progressive and inclusive approach, not only in education but in social issues, continues to inspire the teaching staff at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy as we are challenged with educational reforms while preparing our students to be responsible global citizens.”

Garden proves that Woodhaven always remembers

The Garden of Remembrance is one of Woodhaven’s oldest Memorial Day traditions, spanning at least seven decades.
Created by American Legion Post 118, the Garden at at 91st Street and 89th Avenue consists of white markers with the names of soldiers killed in action, as well as members of the Post who are longer with us.
Over time, the Garden has grown to a few hundred markers. And in recent years, as members of the post grew older, the honor of erecting the Garden passed to the Junior ROTC of Franklin K. Lane High School.
Last year, due to COVID-19, the Garden of Remembrance was not erected, the first time in 70-plus years it was not on display for Memorial Day.
And it appeared that due to the cancellation of after-school programs over the past year, the Junior ROTC was not going to be available and the Garden would not see the light of day for the second year in a row.
It’s a quirky thing about the ending of traditions. They don’t end with any fanfare, there’s never any announcement. There’s never even any acknowledgement that something special is ending.
The people who were used to a tradition being a part of their lives quickly become used to the tradition going away. It just stops one year and then stops for another.
And then it fades away. Like Anniversary Day Parades. Like Rollback Days.
That’s why it was important for the Garden of Remembrance to be assembled this year, especially right now, coming out of a long dark year in which so many of us have lost so much. We couldn’t afford to lose this unique and beautiful tribute. We couldn’t take that chance.
And so this past Saturday, a group of local residents had the honor of taking part in this tradition, joining members of Post 118 to place the white markers in the front yard of their headquarters at 91st Street and 89th Avenue.
It was a very hot morning and there was a lot of work to be done. Using stakes and ropes to line up the markers, we started in one corner and slowly made our way across the yard.
Each marker has a name and a story of its own, and behind every marker is a family that grieved. Some of those families are no longer around, but many are. In fact, one of the volunteers had the honor of installing the marker dedicated to her great-grandfather.
Back in 2017, I received an email from a man whose uncle, Lieutenant Harry Schmitt, was killed in a plane crash in July 1958. He was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware at the time. He was just 19 and looking forward to a trip back home to Woodhaven.
Harry Schmitt went to St. Thomas the Apostle and Franklin K. Lane and had a job delivering the Leader-Observer. In a tribute to this young man, the Leader wrote: “As a boy, Harry had become known to everyone in the office. From the first day when he took his papers out on his route, his spirit of affable friendliness endeared him to everyone.”
That Memorial Day, we looked in the Garden of Remembrance for a marker with Harry Schmitt’s name and we found one.
We sent pictures of it to the family and they were very touched. It meant a great deal to them that over the decades, Woodhaven remembered. Year after year since his death, American Legion Post 118 honored Harry Schmitt and all the other heroes that were no longer with us.
The following Memorial Day, 60 years after young Lieutenant Harry Schmitt perished, his family returned to Woodhaven for the Memorial Day ceremony. Post 118 added a nice new nameplate to Harry So it was important that the Garden of Remembrance returned this year. It was important to show that Woodhaven always remembers.
If you pass by the Garden, please take a moment to stop and look at all the markers. Try not to notice that some of the rows are slightly out of alignment or a bit askew, starting off closer together than they end up.
Take notice of the names and remember. Woodhaven always remembers.

Adams thanks diocese for COVID relief efforts

Standing in front of Borough Hall this past Friday, Borough President Eric Adams honored the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Emergency Task Force for its year-long effort to assist first responders and frontline workers.
The task force consists of volunteers who worked closely with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Diocese leadership to distribute food and equipment.
Since the pandemic began, the group has delivered over 500,000 masks, 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 40,000 gloves to police and fire departments, hospitals, nursing homes, and other entities in need throughout the state.
Additionally, the group delivered iPads to students throughout the borough to assist with virtual learning.
“When we were out there criss-crossing Brooklyn, we saw the borough president out there criss-crossing as well,” said task force member said Vincent Levien. “He has always been there helping us help the people most in need.”
Adams awarded citations to all of the members present before offering his own brief remarks.
“We want to thank all the members of the organization for being the COVID heroes we expect,” he said. “Even during these challenging times, we should acknowledge how our faith-based institutions played such a vital and critical role in getting our city up and moving.”
“We are able to hope to get back to normal life because of dedicated people like them,” added Councilman Mathieu Eugene. “They put themself in danger to help of those in need. If it weren’t for them, the crisis would be worse.”

Adams thanks diocese for COVID relief efforts

Standing in front of Borough Hall this past Friday, Borough President Eric Adams honored the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Emergency Task Force for its year-long effort to assist first responders and frontline workers.
The task force consists of volunteers who worked closely with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Diocese leadership to distribute food and equipment.
Since the pandemic began, the group has delivered over 500,000 masks, 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 40,000 gloves to police and fire departments, hospitals, nursing homes, and other entities in need throughout the state.
Additionally, the group delivered iPads to students throughout the borough to assist with virtual learning.
“When we were out there criss-crossing Brooklyn, we saw the borough president out there criss-crossing as well,” said task force member said Vincent Levien. “He has always been there helping us help the people most in need.”
Adams awarded citations to all of the members present before offering his own brief remarks.
“We want to thank all the members of the organization for being the COVID heroes we expect,” he said. “Even during these challenging times, we should acknowledge how our faith-based institutions played such a vital and critical role in getting our city up and moving.”
“We are able to hope to get back to normal life because of dedicated people like them,” added Councilman Mathieu Eugene. “They put themself in danger to help of those in need. If it weren’t for them, the crisis would be worse.”

Forest Hills residents launch group focused on Black issues

Residents from Forest Hills hosted the first virtual meeting of the Color of Justice (COJ) last week.
“Forest Hills is a nice place to live,” said COJ president Titilayo Yasukawa. “But far too often Black concerns get overlooked or outright dismissed by other organizations. So we decided to create our own space that empowers its citizens to find solutions through political, civic and legislative engagement.”
The goals of COJ include educating residents about local government, community issues, legislative policy, and civic organizations, as well as local elections and candidates running in them. Bigger goals will tackle social justice, inequities in education, housing, public health, and more.
They are currently seeking to fill the positions of secretary and treasurer on its board.
“Our first objective is to build membership and to educate on the local political process,” said COJ’s vice president Gideon Zvulon. “We want to facilitate access to local government and encourage civic engagement, because it is at this level where critical resources for our community are distributed. We need to ensure that we have a seat at the table in those discussions.”
The upcoming local elections were a major topic during the inaugural meeting.
“In order to affect change that would affect yourself, or your community starts at the local level,” said Zvulon,. “Our clear and initial choice is to get people involved locally. Secondly, educating people to know politicians who have the best interests at heart, instead of just the ones you know by name.”

To learn more, contact [email protected]

Drive-in movies return for a second year

With the onset of the pandemic last spring, New Yorkers lost access to many of the city’s cultural institutions. However, one blast from the past experienced a renaissance: drive-in movie theaters.
Co-sponsored by the office of the Queens Borough President, the New York Hall of Science will be hosting a free drive-in film series for the second year in a row.
Following last year’s wildly successful screenings, the “Free Movie Nights at the Queens Drive-In” program plans on hosting six free events throughout the spring and summer of 2021.
“We’re not out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19 just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t safely enjoy evenings in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with our family, friends and neighbors,” said Borough President Donovan Richards. “From kids flicks to cinematic classics, there is something for every family to enjoy on the big screen this spring.”
The first screening was held on May 4. Appropriately, the original Star Wars was shown to celebrate “May the Fourth Be With You.” Future screenings will include the films Inside Out, Moonlight, Coming to America, Monsoon Wedding, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A full list of movies and show times is available at queensdrivein.com.
The Museum of the Moving Image, Parks Department, and Brooklyn-based non-profit Rooftop Films are also helping organize the events, while Queens Night Market will provide food from local vendors.
Social distancing will be strictly enforced, and all guests must register for screenings online before arriving.
Last year saw a resurgence in drive-in movies throughout the five boroughs, including the Skyline Drive-In in Greenpoint, the Bel-Aire Diner Drive-In in Astoria, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal Drive-In in Sunset Park.
For many New Yorkers, these unique cinematic experiences have provided a safe and novel way to enjoy their city during the pandemic.
“When we conceived of the Queens Drive-In last year, our goal was to create an accessible space where the people of the city could come together safely to experience the communal joy of cinema,” explained Rooftop Films president Dan Nuxoll. “We have presented more than two-dozen free screenings over the last few months, including memorable New York premieres of many of the films that were recently celebrated at the Academy Awards.”

Author pens book about historic homes of Queens

A new book explores the notable homes across the borough of Queens.
Historic Houses of Queens was written by Rob MacKay, who currently works for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His interest in writing the book
grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society.
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized, but historically impressive, houses.
A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant dwellings, the homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a
large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria.
Musicians whose homes are still standing in the borough include Louis Armstrong,
Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne.
Through more than 200 photographs, Historic Houses of Queens explores the homes’ architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, and peculiarities.
All the while, MacKay considers that real humans lived in them. They grew up in them. They relaxed in them. They proudly showed them to friends and family. And in some cases, they lost them to fire, financial issues or urban renewal projects.
“This is a true labor of love,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. I spent a countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”

Historic Houses of Queens is currently available on Arcadia Publishing’s website.

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