2005-03-18 / Columnists

Simon says...

It’s been a hectic, exhausting last few weeks. After the Brooklyn Queens diocese announced the closing of the St. Virgilius and St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr schools, we have been huddling in meetings until after midnight. We have been out the past two weekends with the parents and children of St. Virgilius standing in the Waldbaum’s in Rockaway Park asking people for a donation.

I’d like to start  off by thanking Mike, the manager of Waldbaum’s in Rockaway Park, for allowing fundraising for this fine community school. We’d also like to thank all the kind, generous people who have given graciously. Everybody, White, Black, Spanish, Asian, Jewish, Guyanese have been extremely helpful.

Just last year around this time the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor was going through a major financial crisis. We worked closely with the principal, Barbara Freidland, on preparing a proposal for a universal pre-K program. Thank God it was approved and started in September 2004. It is open to all children in the community.

Once again we shared the proposal with St. Virgilius and St. Stans. We also made contact with the Department of Education Pupil Transportation office to make sure that any Rockaway child who lives within 5 miles of Broad Channel is eligible for free bus service. We are also reaching out to Rockaway Point residents who have children in St. Agnes School in Brooklyn, which is closing, to sign up their children for St. Virgilius. We have also reached out to former School Board 27 President, Steven Greenberg, who has volunteered to assist in preparing the much needed business plan that St. Virgilius must give the diocese.

We must also thank Wendy’s of Rockaway Park and their manager Selwyn Khan. Every Wednesday from 5 to 9 PM is St. Virgilius Night. 20% of all proceeds at a designated register and identified orders at the drive through is donated to the school.

Last Wednesday, the BCHS Jazz Band did a wonderful job of entertaining all who attended at Wendy’s. The band has just returned from Disney World where they had been selected to perform for the Make A Wish Foundation for the second time. These young men and women of BCHS should make us proud of what they are doing to help our community. We must remember to support their upcoming concert Saturday May 14. Tickets are $5 and are available for purchase at my office.

The second part of the evening, Rockaway’s own Joie J. Fadde, a magician otherwise known as Mr. Magic Man, put on a wonderful show free of charge. He is available for parties and he also does custom sports photos and trading cards. If you are planning a party call us and we will share his number.   

As we write this column we are expecting Terrence F. Williams to bring his Breezy Point Catholic Club’s Pipes and Drum Band, another world renowned group, to entertain at Wendy’s. A magic show will once again be put on by Joie Fadde.

Saturday was our 30th Anniversary Queens County  St. Patrick’s Day parade founded by the late James Conway Sullivan. His dreams and his belief in Irish culture and heritage continue to shine in Rockaway. His legacy will continue for we are the Irish Riviera of the east coast and the second largest St. Patrick’s parade in New York City.

We were led by our Grand Marshal, James Patrick Mahoney, Business Agent for Local 580 Ornamental Iron Workers, one of Rockaway’s own. He is a great man who works for labor in New York State.

Up with the union. Female Grand Marshal Therese Crowe, is a proud daughter of Ireland, who trained as a nurse. She devotes time to assisting Irish athletes and other charitable causes. We also honor all the Honorary Grand Marshals and Deputy Grand Marshals. We salute Parade President Michael Benn and Vice President Peggy Neville for a job well done. I am a proud member of the Board of Directors.

At this parade Mayor Mike Bloomberg and mayoral hopefuls, City Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller, Congressman Anthony Weiner and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer as well as our great friend Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who will soon be a summer resident of the Rockaways, participated.

The weather was beautiful. We wish to thank Joe DiCanio who drove me in his beautiful 2 seat white Mercedes and gave the hours to driving Mr. Lew. Joe is a great man and he commented how proud he was to hear all the comments as we went down the parade route.

“Lew, we love you.”, “Lew, Lew, Lew.”, “Lew for Mayor”, “Thanks for what you do.” “Let’s Keep Our Beach and Boardwalk Open.” “Help us to surf.” We even had someone say I was sexy, which I thought was funny. I suggested she get a pair of glasses. It was quite obvious that our St. Patrick’s angels provided the beautiful weather.      

On Sunday we assisted in a major fundraiser for St. Stans, supermarket bingo, where I called and sold chances. It was a huge success. As we are writing on Sunday night, I’m hoping to add to my column that a favorable decision has been made by the diocese.

Our Atlantic City bus trip is on this Saturday, March 12.We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. with 8 hours to enjoy. The cost is $32 with $25 returned and a free gift. Bagels and cream cheese courtesy of Rockaway Bagels. Call 945-1216 for reservations.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of an outstanding Broad Channel resident, Patrick J. Minihane, who spent many hours coaching youth soccer. He leaves a lovely wife, Joan, and 3 beautiful children. He suffered a massive coronary on Tuesday March 1. He was 39 years old and was taken out at the beginning of his life. The stress of not knowing where his children would continue their education may have contributed to his death.

He is a special angel in heaven and we’re sure he’ll be talking to God to keep St. Virgilius open. We are asking that you send a donation in lieu of flowers to the Joan Minihane Educational Account, c/o Chase Manhattan Bank, 257 Beach 116 Street, Rockaway Park 11694 so his three children can continue their Catholic education with our help. From the bottom of my heart we thank you and deepest sympathy for the family.

Enrolled Democrats living west of Beach 95 Street through Breezy Point, the west side of Broad Channel, Rockwood Park and Ozone Park are invited to apply for positions on the Election Board for the 2005 primary and general election.

You will work two or three days at $200 a day with bonuses. Call my office for details. 

Lew M. Simon

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