Banquet Honors Deputy Borough President, Outgoing Chamber President & Young Philanthropist
By Andy Katz
Special to the Greenpoint Gazette
The Greenpoint YMCA gathered at Giando on the Water on Dec. 7 to mark its 110th anniversary with a banquet and presentations of Spirit of Community Service awards to Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, outgoing Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura and Republican philanthropist John Catsimatidis Jr.
Greenpoint YMCA Executive Director Kendall Charter stood by the entrance to the banquet hall, greeting guests as they arrived. Each received a small gift bag with a knitted YMCA snow cap.
In addition to the service awards, a silent auction offering an array of goods and services was lined up against one corner of the banquet room that included baseballs signed by Derek Jeter; prints of Jimmy Hendrix, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin; a bicycle; enrollment in the YMCA’s early childhood development center and a bottle of Robert Mondavi wine from Napa Valley.
Campaign Chair Frank Carbone started off the evening by introducing the YMCA’s Afterschool Kids dance troupe, the World’s Greatest — eight perfectly adorable pre-K and kindergarten performers who danced to Christmas carols in front of a captivated audience.
On hand to serve as master of ceremonies was New York One anchor and correspondent Pat Kiernan. Kiernan introduced Nanyamka Scott, a first-year college student who had been a beneficiary of the YMCA’s Rowe Scholarship program, which helps to prepare high school students for college and careers.
“At the Y, they opened up my mind and eyes to the world of possibilities ahead,” Scott told the audience. “More importantly, they taught me how to be myself and to be heard.”
Kiernan then presented the first Spirit of Community Service award to Deputy Borough President Reyna. In her remarks, Reyna told of encountering a ladies’ room attendant that very evening who had asked her: “Que es eso?” or “What is that?” as Reyna translated. “And I explained to her what the Y was. She’s been here probably three decades and never understood what the Y was. We have a long road ahead of us, here in New York City, to bridge the gap between new Americans, so they understand how to assimilate and use resources that are there, an arm’s length away.”
The next award recipient, Scissura, took a moment to shush a table in one of the far corners that had grown noisy during the acceptance speeches before recounting his first encounter with state Assemblymember Joe Lentol: “I told him we’re going to start up the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, and Joe said, ‘No, no! No chambers!’ And I said, ‘Joe, we’re here to help.’ And it evolved into something wonderful … It became an amazing partnership.”
Scissura also gave special thanks to Norm and Elaine Brodsky, who were sitting nearby.
Catsimatidis Jr.’s mother, Margo Vondersaar Catsimatidis, took the podium with Kiernan to present the Spirit of Community award to her son.
“I know people say ‘without you, I wouldn’t be here,’” Catsimatidis Jr. told his mother as he accepted the engraved crystal, “but without you, Mom, I really wouldn’t be here!”
Because she had been unable to attend the award ceremony, Congressional Representative Carolyn M