Despite Odds Girl with CP Graduates Top in Class, Inspires Classmates

Jun 28, 15 Despite Odds Girl with CP Graduates Top in Class, Inspires Classmates

Posted by in All, Featured

One young woman from Brooklyn showed her classmates, and the world, that no matter the challenges, with enough hard work and will power, success is still attainable. Johileny Meran delivered the Valedictorian speech on Friday at the Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn. She graduated the top of her class and received a full scholarship to study at New York University despite the fact that she has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheel chair. Her accomplishment is even more remarkable since her mother died five years ago from cancer, and she grew up in a homeless shelter. “I made it through. I was able to overcome many of the things that stood in my way,” she said. Her remarks brought many present at the graduation ceremony to tears. Her obviously proud uncle said, “It’s a good feeling when somebody have the power, the inspiration to keep going, working for something she believed in.” Her school counselor Mariela Regaldo stated, “The best thing about her, she doesn’t give up.” Meran is planning to study neuroscience at NYU. She says she would like to help find a cure for cancer, an illness that took her mother, taught her about loss, and how to overcome hardships. “It inspired, she inspired me to keep going and that’s why I’m here today,” Meran said about cancer and her...

read more

Children Discover Nature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Jun 14, 15 Children Discover Nature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Posted by in All, Featured

The beautiful environment of the famed Brooklyn Botanic Garden just got even more child-friendly. The recently opened Discovery Garden, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, maintains the authentic feel of being surrounded by nature, while at the same time opens up the mind of children of all ages to the surprises and excitement of the natural world. The more cerebral among us will love the informative signs explaining the whys and wherefores of the trees, plants, insects and animals who inhabit the gardens. For example, one sign posted near a venerable cork tree explained the mystery of the burls, or bumps so prominently visible on the bark: “The female (insect) lays her eggs under the bark. Inside, the young fatten up on wood, then eat their way out.” Not everyone feels a need to read signs, and Discovery Garden is wonderfully conducive to the experience of nature. In the marsh children can jump across rocks; play with mud and water from the pool; examine the mysteries of vegetable plants such as tomatoes, peppers and basil growing on raised beds. In another place children (and there parents) can grab an available trowel and start digging in the dirt. Digging is a great way to catch site of a magical earthworm or centipede. Those wanting a bit more elucidation can read a nearby explanatory sign and discover that, “soil isn’t just dirt” and that even just one small spoonful of earth “can be the home to one billion tiny living things.” Discovery Garden is open every day but Monday. March-October: Tuesday-Friday from 8am-6pm and Saturday/Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed on Labor Day but Open on Memorial Day and Columbus Day. For more information go to Brooklyn Botanic Garden...

read more

Hilltop Cares Foundation Focusing on Community and Healing

Dec 24, 14 Hilltop Cares Foundation Focusing on Community and Healing

Posted by in All, Featured

In early December of this year a group of 70 people came together to talk about finding ways to create a community of healing and mutual support. The venue was a kick-off event for the Hilltop Cares Foundation, chaired by Marjorie Kaufman. In attendance were alumni, parents, school administrators and students of the Horace Mann School, which educates children from nursery school through 12th grade. Vice Chairman Joe Rose founded Hilltop Cares in the wake of a June, 2012 New York Times Magazine article. Marjorie Kaufman, who is chairwoman of the foundation, then became chair in 2014. The article brought to light a disturbing pattern of abuse of students by teachers at Horace Mann, the prestigious Bronx private school, which had taken place in the 1990s and before. Most of the teachers who were guilty of the abuse have since died, but the victims are still alive and have formed into advocacy groups to try to get financial help from Horace Mann to help pay for therapy or to compensate the victims in other ways. At the December event Ms. Kaufman said that Hilltop Cares will “provide support for alumni who suffered abuse at the school years ago, to support their therapy, as well as to bring about some healing to the whole Horace Mann community.” Kaufman stated that all the funds raised by the foundation will go towards funding psychological therapy for the victims of the abuse who would otherwise not be able to afford such therapy. She added that the foundation is especially useful since it operates as an independent entity not connected to the school. “There are significant negative sentiments held by some alumni in the wake of the revelations of sexual abuse at the school. As an independent entity we don’t get involved with that at all, and we are here to directly help people that were hurt,” Marjorie Kaufman stated. Hilltop Cares is now in the process of planning a benefit event which will take place at the school,...

read more

French Tourist Facing Jail Time for Bridge Climbing Attempt

Nov 23, 14 French Tourist Facing Jail Time for Bridge Climbing Attempt

Posted by in All, Featured

After two embarrassing breaches of security for the NYPD, a third incident of a man attempting to climb the Brooklyn Bridge has propelled the police into action, taking the man into custody and threatening him with harsh punishment. French tourist and amateur photographer Yonathan Souid, 23, was in New York for a four day visit with an international Jewish organization when he decided on his last day in town that he would like to get a special shot from on top of the bridge. A friend of Souid, 74-year old Israel Shemtov said that his friend just loves to take great pictures. “He’s an innocent boy. He loves to take pictures from the craziest places. That’s all this is,” Shemtov said. “He’s the type of guy who would climb anything to go to the highest place to take pictures.” The police, however, do not see climbing the bridge for any reason as innocent anymore. After treating two previous climbing incidents lightly, the authorities are ready to crack down to prevent such behavior in the future. “This defendant’s foolish and unlawful conduct is a breach of security and a danger to himself and others,” DA Ken Thompson said. “It will not be tolerated. This is not a game and we will be seeking jail time.” Souid is facing possible jail time of up to one year for criminal violations including trespassing and second-degree reckless...

read more

Selfie Self-Incriminates Tourist Who Climbed Brooklyn Bridge

Oct 19, 14 Selfie Self-Incriminates Tourist Who Climbed Brooklyn Bridge

Posted by in All, Featured

Tourists no longer need to actually purchase the Brooklyn Bridge in order to make it their own: all they need to do is climb it and take some amazing selfies atop the historic New York icon. Take for example Yaroslav Kolchin, the 24-year-old Russian tourist who climbed the bridge one beautiful sunny day last summer and took a few self-incriminating self-portraits which then landed him some trouble with the law and a bit of jail time. After sharing his pictures with the Daily News, Kolchin explained why he climbed the bridge. “It was beautiful,” he said. “It was the best point to look and enjoy the view.” Kolchin is from Moscow and works as a manager for an ad agency there. He climbed the famous 276-foot Brooklyn-side tower on August 24th. He was arrested for his climb, and after a few days spent in jail paid his bail, and spent the next few months in and out of court. “In Russia, this is normal thing to do,” he said, referring to climbing the tower. “I was a little bit scared, but it was my last day in New York. I want to save memories of my trip and take beautiful pictures.” Last week the case was finally resolved. Kolchin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor which prohibits climbing on structures, receiving the punishment of having to perform 92 hours of community service, which he already fulfilled over the past few months. “I met new people and contributed to the improvement of conditions for the life of the city,” Kolchin said of his community service, which he performed in schools, parks and food...

read more

Nasib Hasanov, Azerbaijan and New York Tourists

Sep 02, 14 Nasib Hasanov, Azerbaijan and New York Tourists

Posted by in All, Featured

Some people think New Yorkers are the opposite of adventurous when it comes to vacationing. Just give them an old she or hut in the Catskill Mountains, and they are pleased as punch. Well I beg to differ. I know several dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers who have explored some of the most exotic destinations on the planet. I am not talking about your ordinary exotic like Tahiti or Galapagos. No. I mean something you probably would think of all on your own. Like Azerbaijan. Yes, this is becoming one of the hottest vacation spots, and I am about to tell you why. Nasib Hasanov, expert tour guide, probably knows more about Azerbaijan than anyone alive today. He has lived there his entire life, and revels in showing tourists the lay of the land. I was able to find him through a friend of mine who was just in this crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Here is a sampling of my conversation with Nasib Hasanov. Gowanus Lounge: Tell me what is so special about Azerbaijan? Why would someone from New York enjoy a trip there? Nasib Hasanov: Azerbaijan is an amazing place. New Yorkers especially will love the variety of landscapes and climates. Out of 11 existing climate zones on earth, Azerbaijan lays claim to 9 of them. There are rivers, lakes, and beaches along the Caspian Sea. I would say no one, even hardened New Yorkers, would be disappointed after a visit to Azerbaijan. Gowanus Lounge: If you could visit only one place in all of Azerbaijan what would it be? Nasib Hasanov: Azerbaijan has so much to offer, this is an almost impossible question to answer. But if you really press me, I would say spending time in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, would be a great way to learn about the people of the country. Baku is the largest city in Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea. It is actually several meters below sea level,...

read more