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Neighborhood Achievement Awards

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The Helping Hand poll is now closed. Thank you all for voting.
The winner will be officially announced at a later date.

This July, the City will be hosting its 12th Neighborhood Achievement Awards, an annual event that honors the individuals, businesses and groups who share our commitment to making New York even better. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, and Commissioner Robert W. Walsh of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) will be holding the awards this year to honor 13 recipients from all five boroughs. One of them will be winning the Helping Hand Award that honors a business, organization, or individual that has demonstrated outstanding leadership to help those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. SBS has partnered with 1010WINS so that you, the public, can vote for the winner.


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David Weber / Food Truck Association (Citywide)
David Weber is an entrepreneur and advocate interested in urban planning, community development, and innovation. David is the author of The Food Truck Handbook and the founder of the NYC Food Truck Association, a coalition of small businesses focused on responsible street vending, and Dispatch, a production company that develops food truck lots in NYC to give entrepreneurs an alternative to street vending. David is also the COO of Architizer, an online community for architects, and cofounder of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar. After Hurricane Sandy, David organized a food truck outreach effort that provided over 350,000 hot meals to New Yorkers without power, using 60 food trucks at 20 distribution locations. David is currently developing a more robust emergency response protocol for activating mobile food operators. With the right training and infrastructure, food trucks could be called upon for short-term support until FEMA & the Red Cross can establish relief centers.

NY Tech Meetup (Citywide)
NY Tech Meetup (NYTM) is a 31,000+ member, non-profit, community-led organization dedicated to supporting the New York tech community. Founded in 2004, the organization centers around its monthly events, where members gather to watch demos from emerging companies, hear leading-edge thinking on tech topics, and build networks to develop their businesses. In late October, NYTM helped rally more than 900 volunteers for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. These volunteers worked with federal, state, and city agencies as well as small businesses, non-profits, schools, and more to restore access to critical technology needed to get them back up and running. NYTM created a co-working crowd map so people displaced from their business location could find temporary places to work. NYTM also helped organize the NY Tech Responds website and Sandy Benefit Weekend, and has worked closely with New York City to improve disaster recovery efforts in the future using new technology.

DUMBO Improvement District (Brooklyn)
 The DUMBO Improvement District is a non-profit Business Improvement District serving a 98-block stretch along the East River Waterfront in Brooklyn. The BID provides advocacy, street beautification, economic development, neighborhood marketing and promotion, programming of public spaces and neighborhood WiFi. Sandy inundated DUMBO with floodwater and debris, damaging small businesses and public spaces. The BID played a key role in responding to the crisis and accelerating the recovery by mobilizing volunteer cleanups, sharing updates via social media, and working with utility companies to turn lights on. The BID also worked with FEMA/SBA, NYC SBS, Brooklyn Chamber and South Brooklyn Legal Services to assist impacted businesses in applying for assistance. A week after Sandy the DUMBO BID organized a fundraiser at the Galapagos Art Space and raised $58,000. The BID then distributed 13 grants, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to businesses that sustained physical damage from the storm.

Farid Kader / Sandy Yellow Team (Staten Island)
After witnessing the damage from Hurricane Sandy, Farid Kader became determined to help rebuild Staten Island. He started a group that became known as the Yellow Team, to help clean homes, remove mold, and rebuild. The members of Yellow Team, including Farid, contributed their time, energy and hard work on top of their regular jobs and responsibilities. In addition to the physical labor of rebuilding, Farid organizes the Team, raises money for the necessary tools and supplies, and disseminates information about federal guidelines and funding resources to impacted New Yorkers. The Yellow Team has helped hundreds of people, and continue six months after the storm. They are rebuilding not only people’s homes, but people’s lives. One recommender describes Farid as “unstoppable”.

Sherri Harden /Red Hook Initiative(Brooklyn)
Sherri Harden has worked for almost six years at the Red Hook Initiative, which runs youth empowerment and economic development programs for students and young adults. Sherri started as an organizer in the middle school education program and is currently a member of the Initiative’s operations team. After Hurricane Sandy, the Red Hook Initiative, became crucial to local recovery efforts. Sherri helped the Initiative serve as the Red Hook’s main center for emergency food and supplies. The Initiative stayed open for twelve to fourteen hours a day, helped organize hundreds of volunteers, and established a medical clinic. The Initiative served meals from their offices, but also brought hundreds of hot meals to those without heat or power in the nearby Red Hook Houses. In all of the Red Hook Initiative’s traditional and Sandy-related projects, Sherri is dedicated to her work and to helping her community. She always lends a hand in community clean-ups, meetings, and events.

Aria Doe / The Action Center of Far Rockaway (Queens)
The Action Center has been working to change Far Rockaway since 2001. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Rockaways, it made it their mission to be at the front lines, providing residents with hot food, medical supplies, relocation services, laundry and legal services, and more to help Rockaway residents recover. To date, the action center has given out 60,000 hot meals, 450,000 food, water, and toiletries care packages, not to mention mattresses, blankets, coats, dehumidifiers, and more. Their medical center sees on average 250 residents a week. They help 5 families a week find temporary residences while their apartments are cleaned up. Over 90% of the staff lives in the Rockaways, and though most of them were personally affected by Hurricane Sandy, they put the community’s needs first and did a massive 3 day cleanup of the Action Center to re-open as quickly as possible and start serving the community.

Marco Pasanella / Seaport Neighborhood Merchants Association (Manhattan)
Marco Pasanella is both a long time resident of the South Street Seaport, and a business owner. Hurricane Sandy devastated Marco’s business, Pasanella & Son, and his neighborhood. Living four floors above his store, Marco, his wife, and his young son witnessed water rushing over South Street and into his business and neighborhood destroying everything. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Marco has served as a source of motivation and hope for shuttered neighborhood businesses. In the months following the storm, Marco has worked to rebuild and reopen his business and has assumed a leadership role in the development and organization of a new Seaport Neighborhood Merchants Association. The new Seaport Neighborhood Merchants Association, under Marco’s leadership, has played a critical role in connecting closed businesses with the City’s Restoration Business Acceleration Teams, and liaising with numerous City agencies. Marco’s leadership has also helped address the immediate needs and concerns of the existing merchants and has enabled the Seaport Merchants to speak with a unified voice. With Marco’s help, this great neighborhood will come back stronger, and more vibrant than ever. Marco’s leadership and commitment to this neighborhood is possible because it is more than a place of work; it is also his home.

Sue Fox / Shorefront YM-YWHA (Brighton Beach, Brooklyn)
The Shorefront YM-YWHA is a neighborhood organization that provided continuous local disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Under Sue Fox, the Director of the organization, they helped to assign volunteer contractors, repair homes, provide free legal services, distribute food and translate complicated government forms. FEMA set up a Disaster Recovery Center in the gymnasium of the building. The Shorefront Y managed over 900 volunteers and served 22,000 meals to storm survivors and responders immediately following the storm. The organization also helped to cheer families that were victims of the storm. During the holiday season, the Shorefront Y distributed over 8,000 toys directly to children who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Ms. Fox not only provided immediate relief following the storm, but is working with the community to plan ahead for future disasters and is positioning the organization to be a major preparedness and relief hub for Southern Brooklyn.

Dan Ene / Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department (Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn)
Dan Ene is a resident, small business owner and active community supporter of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. Between his time working with the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association and as a Captain of the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, he still finds time to run his business, Enewhere Custom Canvas and Upholstery, providing custom marine canvas products for all kinds of watercraft. During Hurricane Sandy, Captain Ene stayed and helped his community when most people left. The night of the storm, he drove out to the affected areas to rescue fellow residents until the water was just too high. After that, he worked tirelessly at the evacuation center at Resurrection Church and the relief center at the Vollies Memorial Training Hall. Throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Captain Ene has cared for his community despite the damage to his home and business. He continues to work to repair his home, and those of his neighbors, which were severely ravaged by the storm. His spirit of volunteerism has influenced many members of the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department and is a shining example to his employees.

Caitlina Guarnieri / Feeding Family(Staten Island)
Caitlina Guarnieri and Corrine Daly started the non-profit called Feeding Family in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and have been feeding families on Staten Island since day two of the storm. At the height of the need, Feeding Family was distributing over 3000 meals a day to all the neighborhood hubs and hotels housing residents who lost their homes. Today, they are still going strong with as many as 600 meals served each day at the Midland Avenue neighborhood relief tent alone. The ingredients that they use are donated, but they are taking the next step towards sustainability. They have transformed an empty Midland Avenue lot into a garden of raised beds, aiming to grow fresh, organic produce for those who are still struggling. The wooden soil beds were engineered to float to the top of future floodwaters. Feeding Family continues to shift its focus with the community’s needs and now provides more intermediate help, as some residents are still without running water or electricity but are just now rebuilding as the weather breaks.