Sunday, October 25, 2009

Advocates Rally in Manhattan to Save Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation

Those in favor of saving Brooklyn A gather together with posters
and flyers outside of the LSNYC central office in Manhattan.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer


MANHATTAN -- Despite the cold winds, a crowd rallied outside the central offices of Legal Services New York (LSNYC) in Manhattan yesterday to protest the consolidation of legal services in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation, also known as Brooklyn A, is a civil legal service, providing legal assistance to low-income residents in North and East Brooklyn. They help with cases involving disability projects, rights for those affected by HIV/AIDS, community and economic development, domestic violence cases, fraud, and preserving low-income housing. LSNYC is working to find ways to make financial cutbacks and is considering consolidating all offices into one Manhattan location as a way to cut back on costs. 

One protestor, Maria Alvarado, said nothing could stop her from coming to stand up for her mother, who relies on the disability services provided by Brooklyn A. 

"My mother don't drive and she doesn't speak English, so she has no way to go (to Manhattan) or communicated," Alvarado, 28, of Greenwood Lake, said. "She would be without help if they close Brooklyn A."

Alvarado and hundreds of others who oppose the closing of Brooklyn A gathered in front of the LSNYC central offices to show their opposition the possibility of eliminating Brooklyn A which is outlined in the Brooklyn Planning Process. Brooklyn A has assisted the poor and working-class people in Brooklyn since 1967, providing assistance with legal services. 

"We are demanding that they save the office that has been helping our community for so long," Catherine Pinto, 37, of Williamsburg said. "So many people don't speak English or can't travel to the central office in Manhattan, so they will be out (of luck) if the one in Brooklyn closes."

"Taking away Brooklyn A is not fair for those without money," Alvarado said.

At the rally, people marched with signs and repeatedly shouted, "We want Brooklyn A!" Protest organizers spoke on a megaphone to reiterate their intentions. 

"We must remind them the importance of helping people with Brooklyn A," Councilwoman Diana Reyna told the protesters. Reyna is an advocate for saving the Brooklyn location of LSNYC and has been helping organize petitions and the rally. 

Those in favor of keeping Brooklyn A are hoping the restructuring committee will see the value of keeping multiple offices open. 

"They need to leave it the way it is," Alvarado said. "Keeping all offices open spreads the word across the state instead of just having it in one central place."

"They want to save money and cut funds so it doesn't hurt their business," Pinto said. "But what about them hurting people?"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Children's Hope India Black Tie Event is One Step Closer to Success


MANHATTAN -- Imagine being a young child in a country where the water you drank was the same color as the dirt you slept on. This is the reality for many children in parts of India and other parts of the world. Volunteers from a New York City based organization, Children's Hope India, work together year after year to gather funds to help in making changes for children suffering throughout the world and bring them a better life.

The annual black tie fundraising event for Children's Hope India was held today at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. Tickets to the event ranged from regular seating for $250 per ticket to preferred seating for $350 per ticket. According to representative Lori Feigin, all of the tickets were sold out and they were having to turn people away who wanted to attend the event.

Since all of the work done by Children's Hope India is volunteer work, all of the proceeds from the event go towards Children's Hope Health and Education program.

Children's Hope India was founded in 1992 by Indian women who had a passion for helping children to have a safe, happy, and healthy childhood. It is based out of New York and has raised money for various causes which effect children, from those who have suffered natural disasters to any living in areas of India without clean water supplies. The organization helps fund over 20 programs in India.

This year's theme was "Evening in Rajasthan," with the slogan "A Royal Celebration of its people, music, dance, and cuisine." The two featured guests were the Princess of Rajasthan, Padmaja Kumari Mewar, and the Consul General of India, Prabhu Dayal.

Three awards were given out throughout the evening. The Lotus Award was given to the founders of Telebrands and Philanthropists, Poonam and AJ Khubani, and also to the former chairman and CEO of Mackay Shileds and Philanthropist, Ravi Akhoury. The "Making a Difference" award went to Surendra Kaushik, founder of Helena Kaushik Women's College in Rural Rajasthan.

The mission of the organization states that they want to "give disadvantaged children in India a chance for a brighter future." Tonight's fundraising event makes it one step closer to achieving their goal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Political Profile on Whorunsgov, a branch of The Washington Post

For my writing and reporting class at NYU, we wrote a political profile for Whorunsgov, a political site created by The Washington Post. Mine is about Glenn Thompson, a Congressman from District 5 in Pennsylvania. It has been a lot of research, edits, and late nights getting it all right, but now it is done and published. Check it out! Glenn Thompson Whorunsgov Profile

And my profile is on there too...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Burmese Hunger Strike at United Nations 2009 General Assembly

My first experience shooting and editing video at NYU. Check it out and let me know what you think! :)

Falconry Extravaganza Spotlights Large Birds Living Right in Central Park

Sienna, a five year old Eastern screech owl, was on display
at the Falconry Extravaganza in Central Park.


MANHATTAN—It seems unlikely for people to think of wildlife living in a city full of cabs and buildings that seem to touch the sky, which is why the City of New York Parks and Recreation Urban Park Rangers put on the 7th annual Falconry Extravaganza in Central Park today.

“I never knew there were birds of this size in New York,” said Tom Parker, 37, of San Francisco. “I always figured pigeons were the only ones here.”

The event featured 13 different species of falcons, hawks, owls, and other large birds. All of the birds were brought in from a sanctuary in Buffalo. The Wildlife Department estimated that there were about 1,000 people in attendance of the shows and birds of prey exhibit in the park today.

“We do this yearly to educate people about birds of prey,” said Sarah Aucoin, Director of the Urban Park Wildlife Department. “Each year the crowds get bigger and we bring more birds.”

The free bird show went from 1:00 to 3:00. During this time, there were three shows where members of the Urban Park Rangers flew the eagles and hawks for audience members to witness. They also had sections that included audience participation. Additionally, there was an up-close viewing area for people to see the different birds.

“It's cool to see these birds soaring overhead,” Aucoin said. “But it's even cooler to see them up close.”

Sienna, a five year old Eastern screech owl, was one of the birds out on display for people to see. Sienna was found injured and was brought into an animal hospital. Veterinarians found that she is deaf, so she will never be released back into the wild. There are screech owls just like her that reside in Central Park. Urban Park Ranger Mohammed Alomeri said that five Eastern screech owls have recently been released into the park.

There were stations set up for children to experience searching for things like birds do and also to feel the different feathers of all the birds that were part of the show.

“I want to be a bird saver like them,” said Elanore Martinez, 10.

The Wildlife Department not only wanted attendees to see these birds fly and get close to them, but also learn about the good things the birds do for people and other facts about them.

“These birds are good rodent population controllers,” said Richard Simon, Captan of the Urban Park Wildlife Department. “The paragon falcon is also the fastest animal and can dive at a speed of 200 miles per hour.”

All of these predatory birds can be found throughout the city, most of them nesting in the parks or in overhangs of buildings. Simon said there are also some that nest at the local Riverside Cathedral. Both Simon and Aucoin felt that this years Falconry Extravaganza was successful in educating people about some of the birds of prey in the city and bringing awareness of these birds.