2000-06-10 / Columnists

From The G-Man...by Gary Toms

From The G-Man

Local Heroes Need Your Help

Hey people! I’ve had the pleasure of helping out a few "G-fans" with my column from time to time, and I’m always happy to do it. I receive a number of letters, and emails, and I share them with you because I know there are folks out there with big hearts, and they are always willing to help someone. After reading the enclosed letter, I hope that many of you will consider reaching out in order to help make a difference.

Dear G-man:

I’m writing to you for some help with a problem. You see, my husband and I, along with a hand full of coaches, run a legitimate organization called Far Rockaway Panther Football Inc. We were incorporated on January 23, 1995, and we are a non-profit organization. We also have our 501C3 and EIN fed tax ID, which qualifies us as an operating entity.

Our goal is to provide guidance and leadership to many children of the peninsula. We achieve this by offering programs such as football, baseball, and cheerleading for children in the age range of five to 14. Over the course of a year, we register over 500 kids in the programs we offer. The majority of these kids come from the surrounding projects: such as the 40’s, Edgemere, Arverne and Hammels. Approximately, 90-percent of them come back each year. Moreover, we have taken in baseball teams from other areas, like the St. John’s Angels, who have played with us for three years now.

Just this year, I accepted two teams from the Redfern projects, and hopefully it will work out. Our football teams are travel leagues, and it costs a lot to enroll these teams in the league, and transporting them has become nearly impossible. Yet, we are still here. The football teams have brought two championship trophies back to Far Rockaway, taken from the Springfield teams, and we’ve made it to the championship three years in a row, in two divisions. The problem is that we’ve been doing this all by ourselves. We have been scraping our pocket to help out the community, but our community does not give back.

The only exception to this has been the eight small and loyal businesses that have supported us. I would like to know one thing. Since when has politics become more important than giving children an outlet for the anxiety they feel day to day? If we had the opportunity to be children again, we would definitely hate the way things are now. These kids are on the run from everything today. Drugs, crime, guns and life in general make it very difficult growing up today. Having a place to go is a blessing to many of them, and I, along with my fellow members, just want these kids to have a safe and decent childhood. Still, no assistance is provided, in any way, by the people we have chosen to represent us politically.

Another problem we are facing is that we seem to be competing with an adult football team that is running around asking for sponsors, and they are calling themselves the Queens Panthers. Come on now! The kids are far more important, and they are the ones that still have to choose their paths in life.

We know there is money out there. We have been trying to obtain it, but so far we have been running into brick walls. I approached someone about funding, and he had the audacity to tell me, "Parents of these kids don’t vote, so you can forget about any money!" Let’s leave out the name of the party in question. He knows who he is!

We struggle because of our love for the kids. We desperately need help. We need bus transportation to and from games. We need sponsors for the teams, and we need state funding to help us continue the great work we’ve done with these kids. The Far Rockaway Panthers is here to stay, so please try to help us somehow. Five years is a long time to be doing good for the community, and it hurts when no one recognizes it or cares enough to lend a helping hand.

If you choose to publish this letter, please let it be known that contributions and/or donations can be sent to the following: Far Rockaway Panther Football, Inc., c/o John and Darlene Zabala, 69-15 Thursby avenue, Far Rockaway, NY 11692. Thank you very much!

Sincerely,

Darlene Zabala

The acclaimed writer, Patricia Medlin, also needs your support. I wrote a segment on this Far Rockaway native, and her cable show "Center Stage", a few months ago. Now, I am proud to announce that her P.M. Productions company is about to open a play in Manhattan. The play, entitled "The Commitment – Part Three – The Final Scandal," is directed, written and produced by Medlin. It can be seen at Theatre 22, which is located at 54 West 22 street (between 5th and 6th avenue). The show dates and times are as follows: June 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, 2000 – 8:00 p.m. Matinees are scheduled for June 11 and 18, 2000 – 3 p.m. Sarah James, J.C. Arilotta, Kimberly Clemens, Hank Dennis, Shaun Gale, Juanita Herring, Freddie Freda, Glen Jakob, Holland Sergent, Bobby Sobel and William Steed comprise the cast of this powerful play. Tickets are $20, and you can call (718) 327-8146 for any additional information. So, get you tickets, and "make some noise" for someone who’s truly representing Rockaway.

You can hit me up at

Mapel2000@aol.com as usual. See you next week!

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