General Meeting Showcases Major Successes in the Community

Highlighting a year’s worth of accomplishments, honoring community leaders of today and tomorrow, and having a great time were all on the agenda of this year’s Civic Council general meeting, held on June 2.

The annual event convened for the first time at The Green-Wood Cemetery. The local historic institution not only donated a spacious tent in a beautiful spot for the meeting but also provided shuttle buses, tours, and beverages for the post-meeting pot-luck dinner.

Scholarship winners Clayborn Armstrong, Kerissa Ellis, and Eniola Alawoya, in front of the chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by Jonathan Lief.

Civic Council President Michael Cairl chaired the meeting and welcomed everyone to the gathering. The event started with a vote to approve the Council’s new treasurer, Robert Gilbert, and five new trustees: S.J. Avery, Darryl Cook, Carole Gould, Lyn Hill, and Josh Levin.

Cairl then went on to recognize trustees stepping down from their posts: Susan Fox, “a whirlwind of activity” who founded the online community Park Slope Parents and helped organize the past few Civic Council Halloween Parades; Bernard Graham, an Appellate Division judge who will remain on the Council’s Committee on Trustees; previous treasurer Eric McClure, a livable-streets advocate who plans to devote more time to the Park Slope Neighbors online community; Tom Miskel, a “steadying and thoughtful influence” with both the Civic Council and Community Board 6; and Candace Woodward, who steadfastly and successfully headed the House Tour and the Civic Sweeps for many years. “We hope these trustees will come back to help the Council in the years to come,” Cairl said.

The Civic Council president then discussed the organization’s many accomplishments over the past year, including another great House Tour; successful efforts to expand the Park Slope Historic District to the South Slope and eventually to more of the North Slope; this year’s annual forum, Growing a Business in Park Slope; and cooperation with other community groups on Atlantic Yards and Grand Army Plaza.

Greg Sutton then announced the recipients of this year’s Civic Council grants, which are funded by the House Tour, to eight local schools and nonprofits. “These are phenomenal organizations,” said the Grants Committee chair, “and we’re proud to support them” with $5,600 in awards. (See the the full list of grant recipients.)

Next came the annual scholarships for community service to students in the three secondary schools based in John Jay High School. “These students became very well known in their schools thanks to their service to the community,” said Joan Emerson, who heads the Scholarship Committee, “and we’re pleased to help them move on to college.” Each award is worth $1,000.

The first award, the Mary Laverne Allman Scholarship, went to Clayborn Armstrong, a student at the Secondary School for Law. Armstrong volunteered many hours at a local nature center and at his church, and has worked to help other students preparing to go to college. He will be attending Stony Brook University (SUNY) in the fall.

The Rosemarie and Francis J. Kazeroid Scholarship went to Eniola Alawoya from the Secondary School for Journalism. “This is a special young lady,” said principal Abbie Reif. Alawoya has been a regular volunteer at the KidsZone soup kitchen, helping children who are less fortunate or overlooked. Her citizenship status — she arrived here from Nigeria at age 5, and is an undocumented resident — has made her ineligible for financial aid from the private collages who have already accepted her. Alawoya will use her award to attend SUNY-Oswego in the fall.

Kerissa Ellis, from the Secondary School for Research, earned the Evelyn and Everett Ortner Scholarship. Ellis was a tutor in the avid program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), where she helped other students get ready for four-year colleges and learned the importance of education as a growing experience. “She’s a great example of how community service enhances lives,” said counselor Lisa Marie Calderon.

The George Lovgren Awards for community service followed on the evening’s agenda. The honors are named for the Park Slope activist who in the 1960’s worked tirelessly to save the Union Street firehouse (today, Squad 1) from closure.

This year’s Lovgren Volunteer Award went to Mort Fleischer, a past Civic Council president who served the organization for some four decades and who helped build both the House Tour and the local Toys for Tots holiday program.

Bernard Graham accepted the honor on behalf of Fleischer, who was recovering from surgery. Graham described Fleischer as “unyielding, unpretentious, principled, combative, dedicated, and kind.”

Joe Holtz received a citation from Borough President Markowitz.

The other Lovgren Award, for professional service, went to Joe Holtz, general manager of the Park Slope Food Coop. “He embodies all the values the Civic Council has been working on,” said Gilly Youner, the Council’s second vice president, including “community service, cooperation, and awareness of the environment.”

Representatives from Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Assemblymember Joan Millman were also on hand to present commendations to Holtz. (Here’s our interview with Holtz.)

The official part of the meeting concluded, and attendees took part in great conversation and food. Borough President Marty Markowitz soon arrived to the meeting, and spoke about the achievements of the Council and the honorees. “Park Slope is great in part because of the Park Slope Civic Council,” he said, “and the better Park Slope is, the better Brooklyn is.” Markowitz then went on to recognize Fleischer’s work — “active, resilient, dedicated, every neighborhood should have 100 Mort Fleischers” — and presented Holtz with a citation.

The evening was special and fun for everyone. The Civic Council thanks Steven Estroff, Green-Wood Cemetery’s manager of education and outreach, and his staff for the gracious donations, hard work, and excellent tours. Thanks also go to everyone who brought food and drink for the pot-luck gathering.

from the Summer 2011 Civic News