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Neighbor to neighbor: Sanders holds awards banquet in Floral Park

Councilman James Sanders Jr., 31st Councilmanic District, held his Second Annual Awards Gala and Scholarship Banquet June 19 at the beautiful Floral Terrace in Floral Park.

It was truly an impressive event, with an equally impressive list of honorees. It was a time when all there, regardless of race, shared in justifiable black pride. Sanders, his chief of staff, Andrea Duncan, and the rest of his staff came into the lives of many of us two years ago as unknowns.

We were invited, after his victory, to tell him the things we wanted him most to work with us on. We told him, and he has been diligent and resourceful in his efforts for us. We thank him and his staff for the many good things accomplished.

In the message he wrote for the gala’s journal, Sanders said, “Try to catch me doing something right, there are too many people longing to catch me doing something wrong.”

Don’t we all know that feeling well.

We suspected even before we met him that as a former U.S. Marine, he must have done plenty right, and that now seems to have become habit. His journal message is informative, reflective and gracious as he has been in person.

When tragedy in the form of the West Nile Virus struck one of our Rosedale friends, he, Andrea Duncan and his daughter, N’zinga, prayed at his bedside. I was among (I suspect) others to whom he reached out when the bitterest part of last winter took away my heat source.

As chairman of the city’s Economic Development Committee he has been responsible for introducing and passing the Displaced Workers Law and the Anti-Predatory Lending Law. He has been victorious with regard to the $400,000 Pathmark settlement meant to bolster improvement efforts for our community, while at the same time trying to support the needs of students, veterans and seniors, and many more.

I’m sure his job has not been easy. These are not easy times for any of us. We all wish taxes did not have to be increased, but then we all wish Sept. 11 and the faltering economy had not happened either. Facts are facts, however, and budgets must be balanced. We have shared a lot of problems and can still hope that the “good times pendulum” will soon swing back our way.

Our city, our state and our nation have proven time and time again that if we all work together we can (and have) accomplished almost miraculous things. On Memorial Day, sharing the parades, the prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, the “Star Spangled Banner,” and, yes, even the rain we prayed for last year, I felt a new hope that one of these days we might all be able to enjoy each other in a peaceful world.

As Sanders said in the final paragraph of his journal message: “Many mountains crossed, you and I, many yet to cross.” Many of us have been victims of crime, victims of injustice. We appreciate those good souls who have helped make things better, and we move on beyond unhappy, unproductive memories.

The councilman chose to honor a large group of people who work hard at things in which they believe. I congratulate each and every one of them and hope that their continued successes will enhance the bonds we have tried to strengthen with each other.

The honorees were listed in the Journal in the following order: Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cooke; Assemblyman William Scarborough; Mark Rosenthal, president, Local 983-treasurer DC 37; John H. Banks III, vice president-government relations, Con Edison; Councilman Archie Spigner; James A. Heyliger II, president, Ameny; Cathy Greene, minister; 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care; Elizabeth M. Bishop-Goldsmith, president/founder, Mothers Against Guns; Frederick Kress, president-Rosedale Civic Association.

Con Edison Science Award Scholarships went to Abisoye Oluruntoba and Darine Fortune, both from Far Rockaway High School; NYC Council Award Scholarships went to Tract R. Bailey, from Law, Government and Community Service Magnet High School and Brandon Rush from Springfield Gardens High School.

It may seem far away now, but National Night Out Against Crime will be here almost before you realize it. The date is Tuesday, Aug. 5. The place is lovely Belmont Park, Gate 5. We hope all of the above honorees, Sanders, his staff and all of our readers will join us there for an alcohol-free evening under the stars. No more rain that night, please.

We have already credited Mayor Michael Bloomberg fully for his “initiative against drought.”

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