Reality House brings holidays to kids with parents in recovery

Addiction affects families, and parents in recovery need all the help they can get. That is why Reality House opened its doors to the community last week for children whose parents are in rehabilitation.RealityHouse 12_18-27

Xerox and chapters of the Delta Phi Epsilon at St. Joseph’s College and Adelphi University donated gifts for young children and the DuBose Law firm provided gift cards for older kids. Costco provided food for the event.

Two years ago, Reality House opened in Astoria as a 30-bed facility for male veterans suffering from addiction and homelessness. As time went on, staff members like Lorraine Moore started to realize that it’s not enough to be a building in a community.

“You have to be of the community,” Moore said.

Clinical Supervisor Yvette Taylor said that the mission of Reality House is to help veterans, as well as any other members of the community rise above their addictions.

RealityHouse 12_18-31“We help people move from early recovery to recovery management with group counseling sessions, anger management classes, and parenting skills workshops,” Taylor said.

Moore said that veterans are especially vulnerable because they enter the workforce with experiences that don’t often translate well into civilian society.

“These are trained diligent men and all of the sudden they are unable to find some comfort in the place that they left,” Moore said. “Being able to find housing takes so long, and though they have many credentials, they can’t even find a job.”RealityHouse 12_18-24

Kelly Michelle Williams, veteran’s liaison at Reality House and a veteran of the Army herself, said that when she came on board with the organization she knew that there were many veterans in need, but she didn’t know just how strong that need is.

“When I was in the Army, the first thing I was taught that no one gets left behind and it was important,” Williams said. “There should be no military person male or female out in the cold looking for a place to find their next meal and a place to live.”

Williams said that she was happy to see the smiles on the children’s faces at the Reality House holiday party, but that there was a bittersweet edge to that joy. Her wish was that every family would be able to provide food, shelter, and holiday cheer for their own children.

“There’s no reason a child should go hungry and a family in a country as rich as ours,” she said.

Santa visits Catholic Charities tomorrow evening

Santa Claus is coming to town, and paying a visit to Catholic Charities in Astoria tomorrow evening.

From 4 – 6 p.m. at the Mt. Carmel Church gymnasium, families can head over to the free party for photos with Santa, arts and crafts, music, games and refreshments.

So if you need a last minute Christmas card with your kids, or just need an extra boost to get into the holiday spirit, head over to Mt. Carmel Church (23-25 Newtown Ave.) and spend some time with Santa.

Water main break sends one woman to the hospital, floods 100 homes

When a busted water main on 23rd Street in Astoria sent thousands of gallons of water into the street, about 100 homes were flooded and an elderly woman was hospitalized.

The incident happened on Saturday morning, with water flowing into the street for about two hours, from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. One elderly woman’s home was filled with around three feet of water, and emergency responders took her to Elmhurst Hospital as a precaution.

In addition to the hundreds of homes that were flooded, the sidewalk on 23rd Street near 24th Drive was cracked.

Firefighters worked tirelessly pumping water out of flooded basements on Saturday morning.


Community proposes new dog run, pedestrian plaza

The people of Astoria and Jackson Heights have $1 million to spend and plenty of ideas of how they want to do it.

As part of the city’s participatory budgeting program, residents in Councilman Costa Costantinides’ district have proposed nearly 250 capital projects for funding.

Over the course of four public assemblies held in Astoria and Jackson Heights, community members proposed improvements to Hallets Cove playground, a pedestrian plaza at Newtown and 30th avenues, school upgrades at IS 126, a new dog run under the RFK Bridge, and increased lighting at NYCHA Astoria Houses, among other ideas.

Constantinides said that his constituents have been “extraordinarily engaged” throughout the process.

“Participatory budgeting will allow community members to experience the city budget process on a hands-on basis and learn more about how our government works,” Constantinides said. “Most importantly, community members become more interconnected and have shared their mutual love of their neighborhood.”

In addition to the hundreds of project ideas, over 70 residents volunteered to be budget delegates. They will now turn the list of project ideas into a ballot of several fully formed project ideas, including details and costs.

This spring, the budget delegates will present the final proposals to the community, and residents will vote on which projects they want to see funded. The winning projects will then be submitted to the City Council for approval.

“I am proud that we’ve had such success and I thank everyone who has attended and volunteered,” Constantinides said.

Sweet Afton’s Winter Market


Sweet Afton is hosting their annual winter market, this Sunday, December 14 from noon to 5 p.m. The market features locally made items and products for your holiday gift giving needs.

Vendor List:

There will be Happy Hour all day until 5 p.m.—$4 Drafts, $5 Well Drinks, and $6 Wines.

See more here:

Popular tea/bubble tea shop to open up in Astoria

Bubble tea fans in Astoria will have something to look forward to in the new year, as Tea and Milk will open up a permanent shop in the neighborhood sometime in January.

Patrons check out the menu at the Tea and Milk stand at a flea market.

Patrons check out the menu at the Tea and Milk stand at a flea market.

The owners of Tea and Milk have sold their tea and bubble tea at a couple of flea markets in Long Island City and Astoria for the past year (Kaufman Astoria Studios’ flea market and LIC Flea and Flood), building up a customer base before taking the plunge and investing in their own store front.

The company has a philosophy of healthy tea — each beverage is brewed right in front of you, as opposed to going the popular route and using the faster method of making tea with a powder mix.

Tea and Milk will open up their shop somewhere on 34th Avenuee in the Kaufman Arts District, though the exact location has yet to be revealed.

The shop will celebrate with a soft opening sometime in January (check out their Facebook page for updates), when they will serve tea, coffee and pastries.

With warmer weather, Tea and Milk will have a larger grand opening and will expand their menu. Stay posted and get excited!

A new kind of holiday market hits Astoria

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds at popular chain stores while you’re doing your shopping this holiday season, consider heading over the the new Indie Holiday Market this Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Aurora Gallery.

The Aurora Gallery and Asteria Indie Collective have partnered up to create this market, which will sell local artisans’ jewelry, clothing and more.

The event runs from 12 – 6 p.m. at the Aurora Gallery (35-18 37th Street, 2nd floor).


Zone 126 enhances ‘Cradle to Career’ programming

Initiating several new collaborations, education nonprofit Zone 126 significantly expanded its programming this fall.

In total, five new programs were launched with partners that include NYU ParentCorps, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, Socrates Sculpture Park, DOE Office of Adult and Continuing Education, and Child Center of New York.

“Having the data from a community needs survey, in this case the Project 126 Report, has been instrumental in how we have strategically created partnerships with nonprofit program providers to ensure our children and families and schools are receiving the services they need,” said Maritza Arroyo, executive director of Zone 126.

“These partners we have enlisted have all been able to bring more than $1.5 million of programs due to existing funding streams, helping us increase the number of children and families served,” she added.

Already an educational powerhouse in the 11101, 11102, and 11106 areas codes in western Queens, Zone 126 increased its reach by 500 percent over 2013 to 1,000 active participants.

Along with the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, Zone 126 kicked off its first year of a five-year Advantage After-School Program serving 120 students at P.S. 171.

Continuing to nurture their bond with Socrates Sculpture Park, Zone 126 also collaborated with the English Language Learners department at LIC High School to facilitate programming focused on arts-based English language skills for seven groups of students.

To enhance early education, the NYU ParentCorps program returned to P.S. 171 in October and served 36 students and 30 parents with a collaborative parent-child curriculum for pre-k students, with sessions in both English and Spanish.

Zone 126 is also now assisting the Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education, as they host both ESL classes for more than 200 parents, enabling them to strengthen their own education while their students are in school.

“We know that a community of well-supported children and families has the power to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty,” said a Zone 126 spokesperson. “Ultimately, our vision is for every child in Astoria/Long Island City to graduate from high school and attain the necessary post-graduate credentials needed to thrive in the 21st century.”

Zone 126 plans to expand services until nearly 10,000 children are served by the program.

“We are grateful that Zone 126 and its partners have been able to serve more than 1,000 Astoria and Long Island City children and families,” Arroyo said. “But we have more than 8,000 in need.”