LIC Business Wins Big at ‘Make It Awards’

For the fifth consecutive year, the New York Knicks and Squarespace hosted the Make It Awards, which support and celebrate the small, local businesses and entrepreneurs that help New York City thrive.

Hosted at Madison Square Garden, the Make It Awards honors four winners, presenting them with a $30,000 grant to further expand their mission.

This year’s winners include Adapt Ability, a Brooklyn nonprofit that provides custom adaptive bicycles for children with special needs; Harlem Pilates, which helps make health and wellness accessible to diverse communities; Legally BLK Fund, dedicated to supporting aspiring Black women attorneys by providing them with various resources; and COVERR, a Queens-based business that provides financial services that are customized for the gig economy, empowering workers to reach their highest earning potential.

Based in Long Island City, COVERR offers workers a better alternative to a credit card or loan by eliminating traditional barriers.

Kobina Ansah, the company’s founder, said that COVERR started out by him passing out flyers and interviewing Uber/Lyft drivers in Queens, which has grown significantly since.

Kobina Ansah.

“It really started out with finding out initially that Uber drivers in New York often pay somewhere between $350 to $500 plus dollars per week to rent the car that they’ll never actually own,” Ansah said.

“It became very clear to me that more than auto finance, liquidity or just cash management was a bigger challenge for Uber drivers, and shortly after, that started providing our business financing and people started getting inquiries from other parts of the gig economy.”

Ansah said that coming from a family of Ghanaian immigrants, he knows what it’s like to be part of an underrepresented community, which is why COVERR’s mission is so important to him.

He said that when he previously worked at Wells Fargo, he did not get to support a lot of people who look like him, and is grateful to now be able to provide services to underserved market segments.

“That’s what compelled me to start to focus on people who worked in emerging markets like the gig economy, which happens to be one of the fastest growing labor segments,” he said. “It happens to be represented by over 50 percent of those who work in the U.S. economy currently are members of the BIPOC community.”

Ansah said he was stunned to have been recognized in the Make It Awards, especially upon discovering that 750 other businesses applied.

He added that with the $30,000 grant, COVERR will use the funds to help further automate the underwriting practice, which will speed up the application process for clients, creating a job board to create greater resources for all clients and research and development.

“Being in a city as vibrant as New York, I knew the competitive landscape was huge And so I feel very fortunate to be selected,” Ansah said. “Honestly, it’s an affirmation of the hard work that we do, and the importance of the work that we’re doing.”

Amazon partners with The Fund to assist CUNY students

As countless New Yorkers continue to face financial hardships by way of inflation and the ongoing COVID pandemic, a newly developed initiative by Amazon and the Fund for Public Housing (The Fund) seeks to make the lives of CUNY students who are NYCHA residents a bit simpler.

Created as a nonprofit in 2016, The Fund exists solely to support programs for residents of NYCHA.

The CUNY Scholars program, which is part of The Fund and invests in leadership development, workforce skills and healthy lifestyles for CUNY students who are NYCHA residents.

Over the course of six years, there have been about 257 total CUNY Scholars who have taken part in the program, receiving $1,000 scholarships each.

As part of the new partnership, a grant from Amazon will support the expansion of the NYCHA CUNY Scholars program by doubling the number of new scholars and fellows to 80 over two years and providing individualized mentoring, career awareness and coaching from a new NYCHA mentoring and internship consultant.

The program will be administered by NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability (REES) Department of Adult Education and Training.

The NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholars are recruited via digital outreach by NYCHA and CUNY, making students aware of their eligibility for the program.

Each CUNY Scholar must have at least a 3.0 GPA and 30 credits, demonstrating their commitment to a college education.

“This particular program, for which we are very grateful for, Amazon would support and expand the CUNY Scholars program. What’s different about it is it will create a program for mentorship and career support, as well as a fellows program which provides funding to pay a stipend for 10 of those students over two years to intern either at The Fund or REES,” Claire McLeveighn, deputy director of the Fund for Public Housing, said.

“Amazon has also very generously agreed to make available some of its employees to be part of the mentoring portion, and we’re excited about that because Amazon does everything,” she said. “Whether you’re a student interested in marketing, technology or logistics, the universe is open to learning about all kinds of career possibilities with an organization like Amazon.”

McLeveighn said that Amazon has previously donated several hundred HD Fire tablets to The Fund during the pandemic when residents in workforce development training were forced to work remotely, lacking access to electronic devices.

Additionally, Amazon provided resources to offer meals to residents when many were suffering from the effects of food insecurity.

“We love the idea of the program because our support helps to double the number of scholarships given annually, and actually provides a career counselor to help students through their career journey,” Carley Graham Garcia, head of community affairs for Amazon New York, said.

“Amazon recognizes that CUNY is an economic driver, not only for New Yorkers, but for the city. This made a lot of sense for us because it supported not only lower income New Yorkers living in public housing but also pathways to and through CUNY to great jobs,” she said. “Every student needs help with college tuition. Even CUNY, as affordable as it is, can be a barrier for New Yorkers. We wanted to figure out how to help add to the scholarship funds so that students living in public housing would have a chance to apply for scholarships that would help their education through the CUNY system.”

The 2022 NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship will launch on May 16 and closes on July 13.

NYCHA REES will host information sessions to provide guidance to potential applicants and answer questions related to the scholarship. Scholarship inquiries can be made at

Briarwood native touches hearts with ‘H Is For Haiku’

New York City children—particularly those who grew up in Queens—haven’t always had the easiest time relating to the flowery descriptions of nature detailed in the books and stories they read.

But for Sydell Rosenberg, who raised her family in Briarwood, living in the big city is precisely what drove her to bring her passion for haiku poetry to life.
Unfortunately, Rosenberg passed away in October 1996, and her children’s poetry book, “H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z” was posthumously published by her daughter Amy Losak in 2018.

Losak said that her mother discovered haiku poetry sometime in the ‘60s, and quickly fell in love with the art form.

“I like to say that haiku found her,” Losak said.
“She did seem to bond with this compact, lustrous form of poetry. It’s the shortest form of poetry in the world, and yet because of its small size, it’s perhaps the most expansive,” she continued. “It can capture so much, in such few words and such few lines.”

Rosenberg, whose daily routine consisted of traveling through Queens neighborhoods including Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, used her bustling surroundings as her primary source of inspiration for her work, including the poems in “H Is For Haiku.”
With images of street cats chasing after peach pits and keeping distant from pigeons and sparrows, Rosenberg makes use of the scenery and nature that is familiar to New Yorkers—specifically in Queens.

Briarwood Author Sydell Rosenberg

In her book, there is a poem that reads: “Queueing for ice cream, sweat-sprinkled office workers on Queens Boulevard,” in which children can interpret as their favorite neighborhood ice cream shop, the first signs of spring, or the Mister Softee trucks.

“She wasn’t galavanting around the world searching for exotic adventures, she found her own small adventures right in her neighborhood,” Losak said.

“She actually did write a longer poem about the Q60 bus going down Queens Boulevard, which I’m trying to sort out the versions and submit to a magazine perhaps,” she continued. “But that’s where she found the fodder for her writing — in her daily life as a resident of Queens.”

Losak said that the loss of her mother was very sudden, shocking and traumatic for the family.

Even though she knew her mother dreamed of publishing a children’s haiku picture book, Losak did not begin resurrecting her poems until 2011, or assembling them into a children’s book until 2015.

“That took me a long, long time, because the grief was so overwhelming. It was paralyzing and it lasted a really long time,” Losak said.

“Finally, I started taking baby steps to gather some of her work that she and I felt were best suited for a young audience. I researched publishers that didn’t require an agent to submit because I figured no one would want to represent a dead author, even though I was her living surrogate,” she said. “The book was the ultimate goal, and through a combination of determination, luck and utter generosity and kindness of the poetry community is what got it done.”

It was another haiku poet who recommended Losak submit “H Is For Haiku” to the book’s publisher, Penny Candy Books, who loved the book and signed the illustrator, Sawsan Chalabi.

The book was well received by both the poetry and teaching communities, and was honored in 2019 by the National Council of Teachers of English as a notable poetry book.

Losak has also participated in various visits and readings around Queens and elsewhere, including Kew & Willow Books in Kew Gardens.

Although Losak did not always find haiku so fascinating and illusive, she said it was later on in her life when she realized the true influence her mother had on her.

“Even with all the fits and starts and the setbacks, it became so important for me to get this to some kind of conclusion, because over time, her dream became my dream,” Losak said.

“And over time, I realized I couldn’t have the luxury of infinite time. I am close in age now to the age she was when she died suddenly,” she said. “I had to make that decision, and I had to get it published.”

Rosenberg was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968, and Losak keeps the family tradition alive as a member of the society today.

In addition to “H Is For Haiku,” Rosenberg’s chapbook, “Poised Across the Sky” was published in 2020 with Kattywompus Press.

Losak currently works on a collaborative, mother-daughter adult haiku book, “Wing Strokes,” which is slated to be published later this year with Kelsay Books.
However, she emphasized that “H Is For Haiku” is what started it all.

“It definitely captures in very lucid, simple but evocative language her life and by extension, anyone’s life being a resident of Queens. The great thing about haiku is that you find the universal in the particular,” Losak said.

“Even though it’s the shortest form of poetry, it’s not easy to write. But that’s what makes it so rewarding,” she continued. “These poems are her life, but at the same time, these are poems that anybody can relate to.”

She encourages all people, old and young, to indulge in poetry over the month of April, which is National Poetry Month.

“H Is For Haiku” is available for purchase from various sources, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kew & Willow Books.

Oakland Gardens pols, community responds to shooting

Community leaders and elected officials in Oakland Gardens rallied on Monday after a 16-year-old student was shot last week at the intersection of Springfield Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, calling for a coordinated response to address public safety concerns.

Shots were fired just two blocks away from the Benjamin N. Cardozo High School on Friday afternoon. According to The New York Post, reports of the incident prompted a school lockdown as the teenager was transported to a local hospital and is reportedly in stable condition.

“The last thing any parent wants to hear is that there was a shooting down the street from their kids’ school. My kids’ school is just down the road, and we do most of our shopping right here,” New York City Councilwoman Linda Lee said in a release. “ What happened on Friday is as tragic as it is frightening because if any student thinks it’s necessary to use a gun on someone else, we’ve failed them as a City. We’re here today to call for a coordinated response between parents, teachers, community leaders, school, police, and elected officials to get guns off the street, keep kids in school and out of trouble, and invest in their futures so they know there are alternatives to violence out there.”

Lee was joined by Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School PTA members and parents, and local business owners to call for an increase in the number of school safety agents, school counselors, and social workers at Cardozo High School, more officers for the 111th Precinct, and closer coordination between the school, precinct, and local business owners.

“It saddens me as a mother, life-long Queens resident, and as the Member of Congress representing this area to see yet another shooting in our Queens community, and this most recent incident being so close to one of our schools,” U.S. Rep. Meng said. “Cardozo High School is one of the pillars of education in our community and to hear about one of the students getting injured due to gun violence just blocks away from the school breaks my heart. We have to stand up, as parents, students, teachers, and everyday citizens to coordinate an end to this epidemic plaguing our community.”

Councilwoman Paladino called the shocking incident a “wake-up call to our community.”

“The fact is our district is not immune to the dramatic increase in violent crime our city is facing. Unfortunately, this is a direct result of years of bad policy decisions which have rewarded and excused criminal behavior,” Paladino said in a release. “My office is committed to reversing these policies and working closely with police, prosecutors, and the local community to restore public safety.”

State elected officials, who could not attend due to being in Albany, also sent statements of support to the school and the local community.

“Last Friday’s shooting sent shockwaves throughout Oakland Gardens and has alarmed our entire community,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said. “While the investigation continues, I join my colleagues in urging for proactive solutions to address the alarming rise of gun violence across New York and increased investments and support services at schools.”

New York State Senator John Liu said that the shooting was the second to take place in the community in less than a week, and emphasized the importance of addressing these “despicable acts.”

“Gun violence is unacceptable in any neighborhood but is especially egregious when it occurs so close to home, in our streets, and so close to our schools,” Liu said in a statement. “Bayside is not the Wild West! We must get these guns off the streets and out of the hands of our youth.”


Community leaders celebrate Women’s History Month

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Queens residents came together at C Restaurant and Lounge in Kew Gardens to celebrate and honor women’s achievements.

Rahana Rampershad, co-founder of WE RULE, and Rose Deonarine, founder of ReadySetRose, collaborated to make the event “I am Every Woman, We are Every Woman” a safe space for women in the community to network, celebrate other women’s milestones and self-reflect on their own journeys.

Both hailing from Richmond Hill, Rampershad and Deonarine’s respective organizations focus on highlighting stories of female founders and inspiring and educating the masses, which is what motivated them to localize those missions through the event.

“The goal of our event was to inspire and encourage each other to be better versions of ourselves. The name itself ‘I’m every woman, we are every woman’ and the lyrics by Whitney Houston represent that we as women are the embodiment of so many beings,” Deonarine said. “So when we say that phrase, it’s to be inclusive of all the other women in the room.”

“We did not want it to be about us or government officials, we wanted to make sure it was very inclusive. Everybody had a little piece to play in the room,” Rampershad said.

“There were people at the event that we met for the first time, and they were the first ones to message us and ask when the next event was,” she continued. “It was very powerful.”

Ebony Young, Queens deputy borough president; Vjola Isufaj, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar; and Mone’t Schultz, deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson showed their support at the event.

Jyoti Bindra, owner and manager of Vikhyat USA in Richmond Hill, was presented with a citation from Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar’s office to honor her contributions to the community during the height of the pandemic.

While the main specialty of Vikhyat USA is providing customers with customized Indian attire, Bindra and the shop’s 70-year-old seamstress worked together to sew masks and distribute them around the U.S. for free during a time where they were in high demand.

“It was so encouraging for her, and it brought her to tears,” Deonarine said of Bindra. “She runs this business with her mom and they depend on it for survival, and yet she did this out of the goodness of her heart and possibly saved lives. That’s why we had this event in March, to celebrate women, whose rights have been oppressed for several years. We’re finally getting our voices heard and we have a long way to go, but on that day we just wanted to celebrate us.”

City agencies clear out homeless camp under BQE

As part of the mayor’s clampdown on homeless encampments, one under the BQE was recently cleared

First, it was the subway. Now, it’s the encampments.

A homeless encampment under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Williamsburg was cleared out on Monday March 29 as part of the mayor’s new enforcement policy. Mayor Adams previously told The New York Times on March 25 that he was looking to rid encampments over a two-week period.

A 2021 report from the city found that there were more than 2,000 homeless people in the city but advocates have said that the number is undercounted and doesn’t reveal the full complexities of homelessness in New York. Advocates have also heavily criticized the mayor’s recent subway safety plan and his new encampment policy and lacks the investments in housing and resources to seriously tackle the issue.

According to a January report from the Department of Homeless Services, there are currently 1,208 stabilization beds and 687 stabilization beds throughout the city.

“If the Mayor is serious about helping homeless people, he needs to open thousands of New Safe Haven and stabilization rooms and offer them to those in need, not take away what little protection they have from the elements and other dangers on the street,” Jacquelyn Simone, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, said via a statement, regarding the encampment policy announcement.

Homeless outreach teams, the Department of Sanitation, and NYPD officials showed up to the north Brooklyn encampment in 20-degree weather, telling homeless individuals’ to pack up their stuff or risk it being thrown away. Signage was posted on March 25 that the Meeker Avenue area would be cleared out on Monday.

Benjamin Adam, an organizer with North Brooklyn Essentials—a wing of North Brooklyn Mutual Aid that specifically tries to provide harm reduction and goods for homeless people—said that up until the recent announcement his group and the Department of Sanitation had a cooperative relationship. While sweeps are nothing new, Adam says he has been able to have a lot of “positive negotiations” in the past that would prevent mass displacement and damage as opposed to what has happened since the mayor’s announced crackdown.

“It just feels like with the weekend there’s an escalation in terms of what was happening and why it was kind of an all hands on deck this morning,” Thomas Moore, a volunteer with North Brooklyn Essentials, said. Around two dozen other volunteers and community members showed up to help the homeless with the sweep and document the cities’ actions.

A week prior to the latest raid, two long-standing encampments under the BQE were destroyed without notice. Adam said that one of the encampments was over a year old hosting multi-generations of Spanish-speaking day laborers and that the other encampment used a bunch of found materials in order to make a handwashing station and different sleeping areas.

“What’s inhumane is destroying people’s homes,” Adam said, referring to Mayor Adams’s statement that the living conditions on encampments are inhumane. “And if there is any inhumanity in the conditions in which homeless folks live, it is a result of the inaccessibility and dangerousness of the shelter system itself, that forces them to live there. So calling someone’s home, and the condition that they live in inhumane is an absurd idea, because, in fact, these folks would much rather like most people would have healthy environments to eat in and have safe and warm homes. And they’re here because they have nowhere else to go.”

Mike Rodriguez has been homeless for around two years but has never been in a shelter because it would mean he would have to separate from his partner Parker Wolf. He’s not sure where he going to go next since he can no longer pitch his green tent under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

“So everybody thinks of us as a danger. But we’re in danger out here,” Rodriguez said, before describing different times he’s been harassed and one time when someone tried sexual assault him and his partner. “It’s not our choice to be out here.Homeless people are just trying to live. Nobody understands how were just as good as the next person.”


Susan Catherine Doran, 57, of Briarwood and Queen of Peace parish passed away unexpectedly in the early morning hours of March 17, 2022. Born on November 7, 1964, Susan, the first child of Anne (Boyle) Doran and the late John Doran, Sr., was the best older sister to Stephanie Finocchio and John Doran, Jr. and their spouses, Chris Finocchio, Jr. and Amanda Doran. She was the favorite aunt of Chris James Finocchio III, Nicole Finocchio, David Finocchio, Veronica Finocchio, Sara Doran, and Johnny Doran, beloved niece of the late Mary Graham and cousin of Maureen Palumbo, Catherine Graham Robinson, the late John Graham, and Regina Raicovi.

Unofficially, Susan was the adored daughter of the late William and Margaret Morris, sister of Bernadette, Gwendolyn, Margaret, James, and Edmund, and aunt of JJ, Chippy, Matthew, John, Declan, Samantha, Conor, Bridget, Edmund Jr., Audrey, and Andrew.

Raised in Ridgewood, Queens, Susan graduated from Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Grammar School, Christ the King High School, and Queens College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She excelled in her career of children’s book production; a connoisseur of end papers, bindings, boards, and fonts. She worked for several publishing houses, most recently at MacMillan. Susan had the same job for more than 30 years, but as her colleagues in the publishing industry can relate, her companies kept getting bought and sold.

A fantastic chef, “Sue Babe” admired Martha Stewart (even after prison). Her family and friends will miss her elaborate and delicious Martha-inspired holiday dishes, most especially her famous guacamole! She was an adventurous world traveler, having visited nearly every continent. Some of her exciting destinations were the Great Pyramids of Giza and six of the Seven Wonders of the World: The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, Machu Picchu, Petra, and Chichen Itza. Sue Babe was a fan of Princess Diana and the British Monarchy. She was unsure of how she felt about Camilla as Queen, but was willing to give her a chance.

Her faith was the foundation of her life and she lectored for more than 30 years at both Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Queen of Peace parishes.

Susan will be waked on Tuesday, March 22 from 2p to 5p and 7p to 9p at Hess Miller Funeral Home, 64-19 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, NY 11379.

Susan’s Mass of Christian Burial will be on Wednesday, March 23 at 1030a at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 62-81 60th Place, Ridgewood, NY, 11385.

In lieu of flowers – just kidding, Sue Babe loved flowers and understood an essential part of any Irish wake was the judging of the flowers, so please feel free to send to Hess-Miller Funeral Home.

Words cannot express the hole left in our hearts by the loss of Susan – a genuinely kind, extraordinarily selfless, and truly generous person.

Pol Position: Mandatory for some, but not for others

NYC Mayor Eric Adams claims that his recent decision to lift the COVID-19 vaccination mandate is an attempt to bring back the city’s illustrious “nightlife” that “the city that never sleeps“ is and has always been known for.

“We’re going to keep our nightlife industry thriving, a $35.1 billion industry. By putting our home teams on equal playing fields we increase their chances of winning and that has a real impact on our city. It’s not just fans in the stands, it’s people in the stores. Every time a championship or a game is played here it’s a boost of $11 million into our economic impact during the playoff season,” Adams said in his press conference. “Expanding this exemption, which only applies to a small number of people, is crucial.”

While the announcement comes just in time for the upcoming NBA playoffs and MLB 2022 season, many New Yorkers are in an uproar that Hizzoner is caving in to the pressure from celebrity holdouts, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, who have both expressed their disinterest in taking the vaccine which many city workers have been forced to take at risk of losing their job.

NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said that this sends the wrong message to the city that athletes and celebrities making millions of dollars each year are exempt while so many others have been losing their jobs.

“This exemption sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants, which I reject. This is a step away from following sensible public health-driven policies that prioritize equity,” Speaker Adams said.

In the Mayor’s defense:

The entertainment industry was one facet of New York City living that experienced a significant blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people lost their jobs when concert venues and arenas were shut down due to the virus.

Stagehands and union employees who put in the work to ensure that these concerts and events were able to function properly have been out of work for a very long time, and are eager to go back.

Since the mandate was enforced many performances scheduled to take place in New York City have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.

According to a report made by NYS Comptroller DiNapoli last year, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation declined by 66 percent as of December 2020, representing the largest decline among one of the City’s most valued economic sectors.

While there are many who are opposed to the Mayor’s recent announcement, it’s important from the standpoint of economic recovery to bring back these institutions where so many people have traditionally been employed.

Vendors, security, and stagehands have all had to go without work, and two years later, several have had to make difficult decisions in order to make ends meet.

In defense of the mandate:

The mayor’s kowtowing to the demands of rich ballplayers who refuse to observe the mandate enforced on city employees may allow for there to be a 2022 MLB season but it could lead to rifts between the city and municipal workers that feel they were strong-armed into falling in line with the vaccine requirement.

Healthcare workers were the most impacted by this requirement. When the mandate first came into effect, many of the essential workers who helped treat the sick at the start of the pandemic suddenly found themselves in a predicament. Many felt they were made to choose, risking their jobs by holding out on taking the shots.

Earlier this week, The New York Post spoke with an unvaccinated Harlem resident who was sent home from her job as a waitress at Citi Field because she didn’t want to get the shot. According to the Citi Field employee, Elissa Embree, she hasn’t been vaccinated because she had two miscarriages and is worried that the vaccine could possibly increase her risk for another.

“I’m not as important as a Met is, because a Met will fill Citi Field, which fills the coffers of New York,” Embree said in the article. “They don’t care about little ol’ me, who pays middle-class taxes. The elusive ‘they’ don’t care that I have been out of work and that I have been at my breaking point.”

While the CDC states that there is no definitive evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccine causes any such fertility problems, her overall frustration with the franchise echoes the remarks of numerous other NYC workers who have been pushed out of their job due to the mandate.

Presently, more than 1,400 NYC municipal workers lost their jobs for refusing to take the vaccine.

New York, New York: A Final Four For The Ages

By: John Jastremski

So I’ve known for the better part of months that for Final Four Weekend, I was going to be in Las Vegas for a buddy’s bachelor party.

Unbelievable timing, unbelievable weather, but would it end up being a picturesque Final Four?

Aside from years where my alma mater Syracuse was a part of the festivities, I can’t think of a year where I’ve been more stoked for Final 4 Weekend.

The host city New Orleans will be treated to a weekend of powerhouses.

The fact that the undercard features Villanova and Kansas with two Hall Of Fame coaches patrolling the sidelines in Bill Self and Jay Wright is mind boggling.

The main event is the nightcap. For the first time ever, Duke and North Carolina will face off in the NCAA Tournament.

That first win or go home just happens to be in the National Semi Final.

The best rivalry in College Basketball combined with the magnitude of the Final Four sets the scene for an incredible environment.

However, there’s another extra wrinkle in play.

The Coach K Farewell Tour

About a month ago, Coach K’s final home game was spoiled by North Carolina in a game that really changed the entire landscape of the Tar Heels season.

Duke and Coach K had to deal with the embarrassment of losing the Cameron Indoor Finale and was the butt of all jokes throughout social media.

Make no mistake, come Saturday. All of the pressure in the world is on Duke.

UNC has had a fantastic season. They were an 8 seed, they played their way into the Tournament and parlayed that into a Final 4.

They spoiled Coach K’s final home game, could you imagine if the Tar Heels sent him into retirement with a loss in the Final 4?

After Duke’s semi-final win in the ACC Tournament, freshman phenom Paolo Banchero was asked if he had a preference for his next opponent in the ACC Tournament Championship.

Banchero was defiant and said North Carolina without hesitation.

Well, Paolo is getting his wish except he’s getting his wish in a Final Four game.

The young Dukies have been the most impressive team in this tournament.

They have come of age and have executed brilliantly down the stretch in both the Round of 32 against Michigan State and in the Sweet 16 against Texas Tech.

It’s time for redemption or Retirement for Coach K.

That storyline alone doesn’t get any sweeter.

Is it Saturday night yet???

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday & Thursday plus my picks on The Ringer Gambling Show every Tuesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also see me weeknights at 11 PM on Geico Sportsnight on SNY.

Queens Kiwanis charter first-ever club for disabled

This week, Queens West Kiwanis will welcome a brand new club to the division.

For the first time in Kiwanis International history, the club is made up of 16 members who are diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The club, Kiwanis Club of Sharing Hearts/Queens West, will be a true Kiwanis club as opposed to an Aktion club, which is a service leadership program that supports people with disabilities.

Carol Verdi, lieutenant governor of Queens Kiwanis West and executive vice president of education services at HeartShare, said that the idea came to fruition at a training session with New York Kiwanis Governor James Mancuso.

“He told us to try and find some new clubs and think outside the box. I’ve been working with the developmentally disabled for my entire professional career, and I thought we should start a Kiwanis club with our guys who are adults,” Verdi said.

“Everyone at HeartShare was on board with it, and I’m very proud of them,” she continued. “They will be as active as a regular club, and there are many clubs in the West Division that said they will support them with anything they need to be successful.”

The club welcomes 17 members: Kevin Facey, president; Larry Ottley, treasurer; Michael Cyrus, secretary; Sofia Ghale, Marilyn Barros, Michael Jones, Brianne Sheridan, Manuel Hazoury, Mariam Abdallah, Mathew Koshi, James Cutright, Joanna Norris-Boyd, Dowlat Sukhram, Paula Samaroo, Aletha Capers, Nicholas Palmeri and Feliz Cruz.

The charter date is April 1, where there will be a luncheon at 11 a.m. inside the Hyatt Regency JFK Airport at Resorts World to celebrate the newest addition to the Queens West Kiwanis family.

Verdi, who’s been involved with the Kiwanis since 1986, is no stranger to being isolated from the organization because of her identity.

She could not become a formal member of the Kiwanis club until about 24 years ago because they did not allow women to join, so she takes pride in seeing another “first” for the organization today.

“Oftentimes in our society, people with developmental disabilities are looked down upon because of their ability. People think they can’t do what others do, and I think showing the community and the greater Kiwanis family that they can be successful and they can do just what we do,” Verdi said. “For example, the treasurer may need some help doing math, and the secretary may need help with spelling, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. And I think that taking this step, especially for our division, is showing everyone that our guys can function in the real world just like the rest of us.”

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing