Today’s news:

Queens volunteers active in many different realms

Many people, both retired and active in a job or profession, volunteer their time to help others. Some volunteer in a hospital, school or social or religious facility, at a food pantry, as an adviser by using their professional skills, cleaning up their local park, painting a school, visiting homebound people or driving people to doctor’s appointments.

School groups, such as ARISTA or the student government, require their members volunteer a certain number of hours each year. Some schools require community service as a requirement for graduation.

The Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces is a group of many organizations that take care of their local parks and advocate for adequate funding for borough parks and green spaces. It seems the city Parks Department is usually the first city agency to be cut when there is a fiscal shortfall, although parks are one of the main attractions in many communities where children can enjoy fresh air, young adults can play sports and senior citizens can partake of the facilities available or just sit in the sun or under a tree.

Parks and green spaces are a refuge from the stress of everyday life in our hectic city. The mayor has said he wants a green space within walking distance of every neighborhood by 2030.

Each year, the Queens Coalition honors people who have devoted time and effort to maintaining and improving their local park, green space or cemetery.

Some people have been involved for years, even decades. Sometimes a whole family is involved. The award is a bronze and clear Lucite artwork and is called an Emerald Award.

In 2008, the Emerald Award honorees were Anthony Zalak of Pulis Farm Cemetery Historical Landmark, Dana Matteson of Friends of Gantry Park, Don Dodelson of Friends of Gantry Park, Yvonne Richardson of Friends of Roy Wilkins Park, Katie Ellman of Green Shores NYC and the Astoria‚ĀĄLIC Waterfront Park Alliance, Carol Rupp of Friends of Fort Totten Parks and the Altenburg Family of the Cornucopia Society.

Each year, during her State of the Borough Address, Borough President Helen Marshall honors two civic leaders for their lifetime of volunteer activities. This year, Juliette Alkins Hansen of St. Albans was honored with a lifetime achievement award for educating young people, helping create the Bridge to Medicine program in Queens high schools, involvement with the Jamaica Chapter of the NAACP and other activities.

Your columnist, Bob Harris of Fresh Meadows, was honored for his civic activities with the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, Queens Civic Congress, the Queens Jewish Community Council and Community Board 8, his educating and writing about Queens youth and other activities.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: It took a threat of a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union on the behalf of several high school girls soccer players to force the city Department of Education to change the girls’ soccer season from the spring to the fall each year. After 28 years of senior girls not being able to send their soccer statistics to colleges in the late fall, they can finally apply for scholarships and college admission based on their soccer skills in their senior year of high school when they are most proficient.

It is amazing that again the DOE would not listen to reason and realize that the boys play soccer in the fall, so if they do well in their senior year, they can apply to colleges for a soccer scholarship, but the girls did not have this opportunity until now.

Of course, it was the old, dysfunctional city Board of Education that permitted this to happen, so why didn’t the DOE correct the situation? Why did it force the threat of a lawsuit based on Title IX, which forbids the discrimination against girls in education, to give girls an equal opportunity to win athletic scholarships in soccer in their senior year?

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