Beware The NYC Marathon Bandit Catcher

Bandits: You will run, but Neidich will hunt you down.

If you’re a marathon bandit, Les Neidich is the one who will hunt you down right before the finish line. Meet the veteran, whose tour of duty spans nearly 20 years.

Who?

Les Neidich hunts bandits. He guards the New York City Marathon finish line like a hawk hunting prey among the 47,000 marathoners streaming by. Continue reading

Does Yelp Help?

Within the 10 x 15 block area known as Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, user-generated review website Yelp lists a whopping 2,339 business, services, and other locations with ratings of one to five stars. Given the fact that Yelp is one of the most popular sites in the country, the overall star rating generated by individual reviews can have a significant impact on businesses: an increase of one star can mean an extra 5 to 9 percent revenue for a businesses. But even people with local establishments that are reviewed generally well, have mixed feelings about Yelp and other internet review sites.

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Jamaica soup kitchen battles recession with laughter

  • Every Wednesday afternoon five to 10 volunteers gather in the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens to cook dinner for over 100 people.

  • For the 5:30 meal, volunteers begin arriving after lunch and cook for the rest of the day.

  • Despite a shrinking budget, laughter and music echo throughout the hallways when the volunteers begin cooking each week.

  • For the main course, fresh chicken - a rarity for the soup kitchen, which survives on canned donations - was rubbed with spices and baked.

  • Soup kitchen team leader Jeanne Bryant took a break from chopping lettuce to laugh at a fellow volunteer\'s joke.

  • Christola Williams, the most recent addition to the volunteer group, uncovered food about thirty minutes before diners arrived to begin filling more than 100 plates.

  • Each volunteer plays a unique role during the meal - one woman added bread and butter to each plate while another filled the trays with silverware.

  • To keep the line moving, six meals are lined up on a plastic table and diners enter the serving area in small groups, each picking up a drink and a food tray.

  • After a quick prayer, diners line up in the church\'s auditorium. Although dinner begins promptly at 5:30, they usually arrive half an hour early. Kathy McLaughlin is ready to serve drinks as soon as the prayer is finished.

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

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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