Jamaica soup kitchen battles recession with laughter

For twenty years, the First Presbyterian Church has been serving dinner at its soup kitchen in Jamaica, Queens. Every Wednesday night, locals line up for baked chicken or macaroni, and recently, their numbers have been steadily increasing. Continue reading

Career Planning in College: A Process, not an Event

As the economy continues to sputter through recovery, it’s more important than ever for college students to get serious about plotting a course toward employment. Patricia Imbimbo, PhD, director of Baruch College’s STARR Career Development Center, said students should think out how a major becomes a career sooner rather than later.

“It’s a process not an event, and it’s done in the context of who one is as a person,” said Imbimbo.

One mistake students make when choosing a major is considering future income independent of other factors, said Imbimbo. Instead, they should first consider their values and skills. Imbimbo uses finance as an example. The income is attractive, but students who value security should take stock of recent history. Continue reading

Flatbush Church Restores Its Historic Pipe Organ

Our Lady of Refuge Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn is “pulling out all the stops” to restore its historic pipe organ.

The organ’s demise and resurrection mirrors demographic changes in the parish since the church was built in what was then a well-to-do Brooklyn neighborhood. Father Michael Perry says that the church’s construction costs, totalling $750,000 (about $13 million in today’s dollars), were paid for in cash. That was in 1933, in the midst of the Depression.

“If you look at the houses around here, even the apartment houses, they’re high ceilings, big apartments. I mean it was a pretty wealthy neighborhood,” he said.

The church held an organ recital on November 18 at Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights in a bid to raise the last $60,000 needed to finish refurbishment and reinstallation of the 1933 Kilgen Pipe organ.

In this slideshow, Father Perry talks about why he and Joe Vitacco, chair of the organ committee, have embarked on a project to bring organ music to the church’s mostly Caribbean and West Indian congregation.

Participatory Budgeting: How Will It Affect Kensington’s Economy?

If it were up to you, what would you fix in your neighborhood? New sidewalks? More trees or gardens? Renovations to your local community center? Well, now you may get your chance.

As discussed in articles from The New York Times, and the Daily News, Brad Lander, City Councilmember for the 39th district in Brooklyn, which includes Kensington, is bringing “Participatory Budgeting” to his constituents. The initiative, tried previously in Brazil as well as in Chicago in the United States, allows members of the community to have a direct say in how $1 million dollars in discretionary funds will be spent. Meetings have already begun throughout the district to pitch ideas and elect the neighborhood delegates who will ultimately craft the final proposals for spending the money. Residents will vote on the potential options.

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Just Horsing Around

The horse and carriage rides offered at Central Park made headlines once again last week. Nonprofit organization New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets (NY-CLASS) unveiled a model electric car as potential replacement for the horse and buggy rides. Supporters of Intro 86, a 2010 City Council bill proposing the gradual elimination the carriages, embrace the idea.

The faux-vintage cars proposed by NY-CLASS aim to reinvent the feel of classic New York City for tourists without the use of animals. Each car holds up to six people with rates comparable to those of the carriage rides. Continue reading

From hoops to hire – Will the Barclays Center create jobs for Brooklyn residents?

Construction is underway for the new Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, and Brooklyn residents will soon have a new sports team, the Brooklyn Nets.

The Barclays Center website says the arena “will be a community centerpiece” for Brooklyn, and will offer local concerts and high school basketball games in addition to NBA events.

According to the Associated Press, part-owner Jay-Z announced plans to open the venue with a series of concerts next year.

The Brooklyn skyline will change, but will local economy improve? Can the new arena create jobs for Brooklyn residents in a down economy?

In a recent post, I spoke to Jose Reyes, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn about job creation in Sunset Park. Jose believes the new Barclays Center could boost the Brooklyn’s economy and potentially offer new jobs to people in his neighborhood. Continue reading