Margarita Rosa Steps Down as Head of Grand Street Settlement

Pre-K Concerns? Not on the Lower East Side

Raphael Ward to Be Memorialized Tomorrow Night With Basketball Tournament & Performance Showcase

Photos of Raphael Ward are part of a memorial on Columbia Street, near where the teen was shot and killed.

We received the following email from Judith Sam, director of youth services at Grand Street Settlement. The social services agency is located just a few steps away from the location in which Raphael Ward was shot and killed:

Classmates and family of Raphael Sadonte Ward, a 16-year-old fatally shot last Friday, will join together to honor the teenager with a basketball tournament and tribute performance showcase, organized by his high school peers and supported by local community organizations and politicians.  Immediately after the 6pm showcase and ball tournament to honor a teenager who loved sports, on Friday, January 11, Lower East Side youth will lead the adults – parents, teachers, neighbors, and community – in a memorial procession from the indoor ball court to the makeshift vigil, now crowded with hundreds of lit candles and handmade cards, marking where the tragic incident took place.  Details remain unclear surrounding the series of events that led to the fatal shooting of Raphael Sadonte Ward on Friday, January 4, in a convenience store on Columbia Street, across from the housing development where Ward lived with his family.  Inez Tucker, a family member of Ward, described the shooting as “senseless” and asked, simply, “when is it going to stop?”  In the wake of several high-profile incidents involving gun violence, Tucker and others are left wondering how to prevent further loss of life.  Many in the Lower East Side and beyond are calling on elected officials to strengthen gun control laws and to find community-driven solutions to end the cycle of violence.  “It’s too easy to get guns on the streets,” noted one parent, who was far from alone in her outrage and joined by an entire community in remembering a young life cut too short.

The event will take place at Grand Street Settlement, 80 Pitt Street, from 6-9 p.m.  Click through to see the event flyer.

Grand Street Settlement to Host Sandy Relief Benefit Concert

Comedienne Wendy Liebman via Grand Street Settlement

Our friends at the Grand Street Settlement are hosting an evening of comedy and music in support of ongoing Sandy recovery efforts here on the Lower East Side this Thursday, Nov. 15th at 7:30pm.  Comedienne Wendy Liebman and the University Glee Club of New York City were originally scheduled to team up for a “Fun Night Out” to raise money for the Settlement, but, Grand Street notes: “…over the past two weeks the event has become so much more: a relief concert for our neighbors whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.”

The event will be held at P.S. 6 – The Lillie Devereaux Blake School, 45 East 81st St. Suggested ticket price is $50. For more on this event and to purchase tickets, visit their website here.

Grand Street Settlement LIVE! This Thursday

David Rogue

The Grand Street Settlement is holding their “fall rock fundraiser” on Thursday evening at Think Coffee. This is their second year hosting the event and they have added musicians David Rogue and Jimmy McDonald to the bill.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards Grand Street Settlment’s various community programs. Go here for tickets. Tickets start at $20 // 8pm // 248 Mercer Street (btw 3rd & 4th Streets).

Grand Street Settlement Seeks AmeriCorps Candidates

The Grand Street Settlement is looking for a few good men and women for its AmeriCorps Program:

The AmeriCorps program at Grand Street Settlement is entering its thirteenth year and currently seeking summer volunteers from June through August, to participate in one of the most fulfilling paid internships of a lifetime. Available positions for the summer: Group Leader (age groups: K-5, 10-14, 14-18); Activity Specialists (arts & crafts, dance, drama, fashion, music production, cooking, and sports); Early Childhood Classroom Assistant/Program Aide; Youth Mentor (LGBT Program); and Technology & Media Center Clubhouse Assistant.

Taste of the LES: San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria

This afternoon we have the final installment of our series leading up to the 10th annual Taste of the Lower East Side. The benefit for the Grand Street Settlement begins this evening at 7 o’clock. We’re wrapping up with San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria on Clinton Street. Recently, I stopped by to talk with David Malekan, who owns the restaurant with his brothers, Kourosh and Kamran.

Dave  practiced law and he worked on Wall Street. But toiling in the corporate world did not appeal to him. These days his office is a sunny perch at the corner of Clinton and Rivington Streets. San Marzano has been open since 2008. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a wood fired stone hearth oven imported from Italy.

Taste of the LES: Il Laboratorio del Gelato


Photo by roboppy via Flickr.

The Grand Street Settlement’s Taste of the Lower East is just a day away. For the past month, we’ve been profiling many of this year’s participants. We saved one of the most enticing entries until second last – il laboratorio del gelato, the walk-up ice cream mecca on Orchard Street.

Jon Snyder comes from ice cream royalty. His grandfather, James Ceriale, built many of the original Carvel stores, starting in 1951. After returning from Italy at age 19, Snyder decided to strike out on his own, creating the Ciao Bella Gelato Company. Before long, he was selling to the city’s most formidable restaurants, including the River Cafe and the Russian Tea Room. Snyder sold the company in 1989 but he could not stay away.

Taste of the LES: Sugar Sweet Sunshine

We resume our series profiling the participants in this year’s Taste of the Lower East Side with a perennial neighborhood favorite — Sugar Sweet Sunshine.  When I arrived on a sunny afternoon last week to interview co-owners Debbie Weiner and Peggy Williams, they were sitting outside enjoying a (very) rare respite from the kitchen. Since opening in 2003, Sugar Sweet Sunshine has thrived on a simple concept — serving delicious cupcakes and other tempting treats, while at the same time creating a comfortable, laid back hangout for the neighborhood.

Grand Street Settlement Prepares for Taste of the LES

Cooking class at the Grand Street Settlement

Several girls gather around a large chef’s table, as Alicia Sanchez explains the finer points of making tortillas from scratch.  On the menu today: fresh fish tacos.  Sanchez, owner of the Sugarplum Bakery in Brooklyn, comes to the Lower East Side four times a week to work with students in the Grand Street Settlement’s after school program.  Her cooking classes are popular – and effective. These kids are enthusiastic and engaged. They’re learning to cook nutritious meals, and picking up some valuable life skills along the way.

Grand Street Settlement to Host LES Youth Day


photos courtesy of Grand St. Settlement

Five hundred community youth and their families will turn out for Grand Street Settlement's 3rd Annual Lower East Side Youth Day at P.S.142 on the corner of Delancey and Attorney Streets. The Youth Day, which goes from 11AM – 4 PM on Friday, August 14th, will feature:


  • Performances starting at 2:00PM

  • A live D.J.

  • Artwork displayed

  • Free BBQ lunch to all participants and guests

  • Information booths from: HEAT (Health & Education Alternatives for Teens), Project KISS, MetroPlus and FreeArts NYC

Other Lower East Side
community centers and Settlement houses will be in attendance,
including summer day campers from P.S. 15, University Settlement and
the Educational Alliance.


photos courtesy of Grand St. Settlement

Youth Day is about bringing together young people from all over the Lower East Side
to showcase their talents, network with their peers, and to distribute
valuable resources and information on health, education and Grand
Street Settlement's youth programs. The Day is primarily organized by
Grand Street Settlement's own young people. Tweens and Teen facilitate
much of the fundraising by holding bake sales and going door-to-door to
businesses in the neighborhood asking for cash or in-kind donations.

Wednesday News Links

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver tells the New York Times he has doubts about Governor Paterson's ethics reform proposals. Senate leader Malcolm Smith, who backs the legislation, took a shot at Silver yesterday, saying legislative leaders should not have outside incomes. Silver, an attorney, has resisted calls for him to disclose his client list. Silver's spokesman says he continues to believe in a citizen legislature.

As we reported earlier, City Councilman Alan Gerson lost the endorsement of the Downtown Independent Democrats last night to Pete Gleason. The blog, Soho Politics, says Gleason only won by two votes in the first round. But after a recount, his lead widened 64-52. Meanwhile, another influential club, the Stonewall Democrats, endorsed Gerson, even though they chose to stay out of other races in which incumbents are "under siege." The Daily News says Gerson is poised to lose the upcoming endorsement of the Working Families Party.

EV Grieve has details of the community meeting last night to discuss complaints about late night noise and other problems from the Cooper Square Hotel. It appears to have been a rough replay of the contentious meeting last week concerning noise at the Thompson LES Hotel. There was one difference. Jeremiah's Vanishing New York reports people attending the meeting walked outside to witness a lavish private party at the hotel to celebrate the unveiling of the new Astin Martin.

Senator Charles Schumer's office says the Grand Street Settlement is one of 13 New York organizations to receive grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Grand Street will get $260,000 to hire 40 AmeriCorps members to "help New York City students to improve their education."

Midday News Notes

According to the Downtown Express, it took three calls to 911 before help arrived for a woman suffering a seizure at the Grand Park Settlement's senior center. A staff member, Wally Ruiz, ended up running to the fire station on Pitt Street before emergency teams arrived for 64 year old Eva Delgado. It's unclear whether the trucks came from the Pitt Street station or another location. Delgado was taken to Beth Israel Hospital, where she was declared dead a short time later. There was apparently some question about whether the 911 operator received enough information to send help.But a Grand Street Settlement spokesperson says the staffer who called 911 gave all of the information that would have been needed.

The city has come up with a solution to the dispute over bike lanes along Kent Avenue in Brooklyn. It's worth taking note of the resolution across the river, as we await a plan for the Grand Street bike lanes. You'll recall LES residents unloaded on DOT officials during a "transportation town hall" recently.

A followup to our coverage of the contentious community meeting Wednesday night about noise coming from the Thompson LES Hotel. Jeremiah's Vanishing New York posted a video from a tipster who says a pool party last week was "disgustingly loud." See (and hear it) for yourself:

Taste of the Lower East Side Tonight

This evening at the Puck Building, some of the neighborhood's best chefs will be cooking for a good cause. The Grand Street Settlement's Taste of the Lower East Side, featuring 35 restaurants from the LES, East Village, Nolita, Soho, etc. will be held. Among the featured restaurants: Alias, Allen & Delancey, Bacaro, Barrio Chino, Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant,  El
Maguey y La Tuna, Falai Panetteria, Fat Hippo, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, 'Inoteca, Kampuchea Restaurant, Kuma Inn, Little Giant, Oliva, Palà Paladar, Roni Sue's Chocolates,
Saxelby Cheesemongers, Shang, Sorella, The Stanton Social, Sugar Sweet
Sunshine, Think Coffee, Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop, Thor, Wd~50. Tickets are steep: $150-$500 but proceeds support Grand Street's programs. More details here.