Putting My Experience
Kids playing in the schoolyard.
Such a simple thing. That’s what I want to see in our district again. Kids of all colors, religions and income levels learning and living together. I want to see a district where the elderly can come out on bright sunny days and walk to their senior center where there will be a karaoke party after lunch. Or another Bingo tournament. Buses and trains are running and people are coming and going to work.
I grew up in Richmond Hill. We are a Puerto Rican family. We lived on welfare but had the greatest summers any kid could want. Riding the A train, knees on the seats so we could look out the window. If we were lucky, we could catch the front of the train and look out the front car on our way to Rockaway Beach. Sometimes my aunt and cousins would come in from Brooklyn for the weekend and we’d all be on that train to Rockaway Beach.
So where are we now? We are at the beginning of a new year with renewed hope for the future. While the Rockaways is open year-round, the warm weather is coming and so are the visitors. Which is why Rockaway should be one of the primary locations to distribute the vaccine. It just makes sense to inoculate a potential hotspot so we are protected from visitors and likewise, protect those that visit us. We need better transportation. I want to double the bus lines to take on the capacity the trains can’t accommodate.
I’m a business owner who’s managed to flourish during the 2008 recession and found ways to innovate during COVID-19 to provide services to the elderly and children in Health & Wellness and Arts & Culture. I also serve on three non-profit boards including the Latin American Intercultural Alliance.
Ever on the lookout to find ways to serve the community during this crisis, I created the only “Queens Pet Pantry” in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare, ASPCA, Humane Society of New York, New York Department of Parks & Recreation and the Latin American Intercultural Alliance, brining pet supplies to residents in Queens affected by COVID-19.
In November, I sponsored a “Food for the Soul” event. A pop-up presentation with NYCNext, New York Department of Parks & Recreation, NYC Precinct 100 Community Affairs, the Rockaway Black Surfing Association, and Latin American Intercultural Alliance. We had a Salvation Army music group and Jazz group performing for the public, while the Rockaway Black Surfing Association conducted a clothing drive. Finally, an artist created a group heart wreath out of flowers which was then carried out to sea in honor of victims and survivors of COVID-19.
At the end of the ceremony, as the sun began to set, I saw some of the flowers floating back to shore. And I thought “This is who we are. We suffer through rough seas, but little by little, we come back”.