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Bay Ridge activists were the center of attention at a recent luncheon honoring their efforts.
The theme of the Bay Ridge Community Council’s annual presidents luncheon – held each year to say thank you for the hard work of each of the umbrella organization’s member groups – was clearly how the plethora of local groups contributes to the well-being and quality-of-life of the communities represented by the council, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton.
Addressing the group gathered at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street, Arlene Keating, BRCC’s president, noted, “For 58 years, this day and this luncheon continue to celebrate you, the creme de la creme that forms what we know as the Bay Ridge Community Council. Without you, and the strong, vital organizations you represent, there is no council.”
Looking back, Keating reminded the group that BRCC had been formed by a small group of people “who obviously felt there was a need to create a unified body to tackle issues should a specific occurrence impact the quality-of-life in the neighborhood they cared so deeply about.” Nearly six decades later, she continued, the council has morphed, ceding some of its original purpose to Community Board 10 when community boards came into existence in the 1970s, and losing some members and gaining others.
“One constant among the changes are the pride and community spirit we all share,” Keating went on. “That’s what makes this council and community one of the best in Brooklyn.” The council’s future is bright, she contended. Three new groups have just joined, and there are three more members pending, Keating said. “If we see continued annual growth of these kinds of numbers,” she predicted, “the council will be around another 50 years.”
Senator Charles Schumer, the first elected official to speak, sounded the theme that would be repeated numerous times over the course of the afternoon. “For all the years I’ve been an elected official,” he noted, “Bay Ridge has stood out because of people like yourselves who have fought for the neighborhood through thick and thin, and kept it the wonderful neighborhood it is. We all know that neighborhoods don’t stay good on their own. They stay good because people care about them.”
Representative Anthony Weiner agreed. “Those of us in public life often get thank yous for something good that happens in the community,” he remarked. “But, if you think about what makes a community successful, politicians have the good luck to get the thank yous, but we would not be able to do the work we do without active people in the community.”
City Councilmember Vincent Gentile praised BRCC by drawing a parallel to the Chinese Year of the Ox, just commencing. “The Year of the Ox,” he noted, “is a year of strength, a year of perseverance. Those qualities are the same qualities that the Bay Ridge Community Council has shown over its over 50-year history.”
“There’s a wonderful feeling of camaraderie here in Bay Ridge and here at the Bay Ridge Community Council,” added Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny. “Especially these days, that’s very important. We have to embrace our camaraderie in unity these days.”
The economic downturn was also mentioned by State Senator Marty Golden, who stressed, “We do have some difficult times ahead of us, but we have had difficult times before.” Nonetheless, he added, the neighborhood, “Is still one of the safest communities in he city of New York.”
Among the battles that Golden foresees are ones over the Draconian cuts that have been threatened by both the city and state administrations to close looming budget gaps of $4 billion and $15 billion respectively. “We are trying to balance the budget, but not on the backs of the middle class,” he told his listeners.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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