Astoria students win African-American history essay contest

Photo courtesy of Waael Abdalh.

Photo courtesy of Waael Abdalh.

Four Astoria students won the annual African-American History Month essay contest: Andy Hernandez, Rubaiah Hussain, Fahad Khan and Crystal Lozada.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who hosts the essay contest, also honored 21 eighth-grade students at IS 10 for participating in the annual competition.

They all received Assembly Certificates of Merit, while the winners received gold-embossed Assembly Citations.

“The contributions of African Americans are a vital part of our history and it is especially important to illuminate the hidden figures who made groundbreaking achievements and can inspire us all,” Simotas said. “Your essays were remarkable because of your insights and writing ability.”

Some essays were focused on well-known African American figures, such as Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

Others were about unsung heroes, such as Eunice Hunton Carter, the first black woman to receive a law degree from Fordham University. Carter worked as a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, and helped bring down mafia boss Lucky Luciano.

Variety Boys and Girls Club to present expansion plans on Thursday

Variety_Expansion_3Variety Boys and Girls Club, located at 21-12 30th Road, will present its plans for expansion before Community Board 1 on Thursday May 24 at 6:30 p.m.

The public hearing will be at the Ravenswood Community Center, located at 35-40 21st Street.

The 63-year-old youth services organization is seeking to expand to a state-of-the-art, five-story facility. The new building would have brand new amenities and features such as:

  • A 400-seat shared education space
  • 50 spots for day care/child care
  • An 80-seat Universal Pre-Kindergarten space
  • Tech-incubator space for community-based nonprofits
  • 65-seat planetarium
  • 175-year community theater
  • Fully-equipped video, audio and film production room
  • STEAM research center
  • 250-seat event center and conference space
  • Working kitchen with pizza ovens and bakery equipment
  • 3,000 square feet of retail
  • Rooftop garden with sustainable energy learning
  • 1,000-square-foot BioBus base and research center
  • Entrepreneurial Makerspace
  • Double-sized gym and new pool

To help pay for the new $80 million facility, Variety will work with a developer to build a 14-story, 112-unit residential building on its property. Thirty percent of those units will be affordable.

But Variety’s team says it’ll be worth having a new youth and community center that will serve the Astoria and Long Island City communities for generations.

Read more about Variety’s expansion proposal here.


Come hear Crystal Wolfe talk about her book on homelessness

5OVV_Crystal_WolfeLocal author Crystal Wolfe is hosting an “Author Talk” and book signing for her book “Our Invisible Neighbors: Accounts, Causes, and Solutions” on Saturday, June 27.

She will speak at Astoria Bookshop, located at 31-29 31st Street, at 3 p.m.

Wolfe has been a champion for the homeless in the Queens community. She started a nonprofit organization, Catering for the Homeless, to connect food that otherwise be thrown away to the hungry and needy.

She documents in her book the stories of homeless individuals and delves into the root causes of the homelessness crisis. She then delves into some potential solutions to the issue.

Astoria Film Festival welcoming reception set for June 8

Photo courtesy/Astoria NY Film Festival Facebook

Photo courtesy/Astoria NY Film Festival Facebook

The Astoria Film Festival is hosting its opening reception on Friday, June 8 from 8 to 10 p.m. at Zenon Taverna at 34-10 31st Avenue.

The film festival itself will be on Saturday, June 9, with screenings and filmmaker introductions at The Zukor Theater at Kaufman Astoria Studios, located at 35-11 35th Avenue.

After the screenings of the short films, the festival will host an awards ceremony at 4 p.m., followed by an after party at George’s Restaurant at 5 p.m.

Read more about the organizers of the Astoria Film Festival, including local filmmaker Marc Lyons, here.

Purchase tickets to the Astoria Film Festival here.

And to learn more about the films that will be shown, visit their website at

Astoria vet, ICYP leader inducted into Veterans Hall of Fame

41414769574_cea1add717_kAstoria veteran Bob Murphy has been inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.

Murphy, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, is the longtime president of the Immaculate Conception Youth Programs (ICYP), a local sports league for kids in Astoria.

He was chosen for the honor by State Senator Michael Gianaris.

“Bob Murphy has a lifetime of committed service to our country and our community,” Gianaris says. “I could not be prouder than to select him for the Veterans Hall of Fame.”

Murphy is a native of Sunset Park. He served in the Air Force from 1966 and 1970.

He has led ICYP since 2003.