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Neighbor to Neighbor: Laurelton activist’s news brightens holiday season

During the recent holidays, I received some very good news about some of my friends and about some other people I admire. Edgar Grove called to tell me that one of our mutual close friends was pictured with his family in the Christmas Eve issue of the Daily News, along with Steven McDonald and his wife, Patti Ann.

Edgar has been active in and around Laurelton for many years with the Federated Blocks of Laurelton, the Elmer H. Blackburne Regular Democratic Club, the Southeast Queens Community Partnership, St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Church and in the office of state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans).

Our friend Kevin Czartoryski, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, was Laurelton’s first community policing officer. Czartoryski covered a very large area of our community, including Merrick Boulevard from Laurelton Parkway to Springfield Boulevard, pretty much by himself during our most dangerous times. As Sgt. James Phelan told me one day, “He is like a breath of fresh air.”

Czartoryski is sincerely interested in people, learns quickly, assesses situations accurately and does not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the worsening of a bad situation.

There was one very scary night I remember all too well. One of our local stores had left employees inside to protect the premises after the owners and other employees had gone home. The steel gates were down and locked, as usual. Suddenly fire erupted, trapping the people — who spoke no English — inside. Luckily Czartoryski was nearby and called for help on his radio. He immediately went to work trying to break the lock and raise the gate while shouting instructions in Spanish to the trapped men.

When it was over and the folks who had been trapped, the firemen and everyone else seemed safe, Czartoryski was not concerned at all about the risk he had taken. He was more impressed and thankful that some man, unknown to him, had volunteered to help lift that gate and had then quickly disappeared, even before he could be thanked.

That was only one incident among many that made us admire and call Czartoryski our friend. We are delighted to add our congratulations to those he has already received for his latest promotion, the one noted in the Daily News, to the highest detective rank the New York Police Department has to offer, detective first grade.

We are proud of him and the many other wonderful NYPD people (too numerous to name) who helped tame our community when things were very much out of control. We also congratulate Steven and Patti McDonald, not only for Steven’s promotion to detective first grade but for both of their efforts and devotion to each other and the rest of us in trying to teach students and community groups about nonviolence, forgiveness and hope.

This young couple, both victims of a criminal’s bullet that paralyzed the husband, have been an example of courage truly above and beyond the call of duty. I felt very fortunate to have met them when they visited the Citizens’ Police Academy Alumni Association. They are very special people.

I was grateful to Edgar Grove for passing that good news along to me because I don’t always get down to Merrick Boulevard, and I would have been unhappy to have missed that particular issue. After Edgar and I talked about that news and a few other things, he said, “By the way, I got a promotion, too. I am now Assemblyman Scarborough’s office manager.”

Edgar is a modest, helpful, efficient gentleman who is most deserving of that promotion. Congratulations to him and his nice boss for making that good decision.

My last bit of good news before the Christmas holiday was when I came across the name of Kenneth Romney, who had been a law explorer with Post 2105 when I was an adult advisor there. I had been looking up the name of another friend in my little address book and when I spotted Kenneth’s name, I called his mom to find out how the years had treated him.

I was delighted to hear he is a successful engineer in the oil industry. He has been working overseas and is on his way back home. All the good news about some very good people made my holidays very happy.

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