June General Meeting: Good Times for Great Community Accomplishments

The Park Slope Civic Council will be awarding its highest honor to two people whose service has helped define Park Slope for both residents and people beyond our neighborhood at the upcoming June General Meeting.

Sister Mary Maloney, president of Christian Help in Park Slope (CHIPS), will receive the 2012 Lovgren Professional Award, and Peter Bray, chair of the Civic Council’s Historic District Committee, will be given this year’s Lovgren Volunteer Award. Also to be honored are our scholarship winners from the secondary schools within John Jay High School and the recipients of this year’s Civic Council community grants.

The ceremonies will take place at the Civic Council’s general meeting for members on Thursday, June 7, 7 p.m., at New York Methodist Hospital’s Hospital Cafeteria and Garden, Sixth Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. There will be plenty of food, drink, and fun at the party, which is open to all Civic Council members.

If you’re not a member, the general meeting is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Civic Council, meet your neighbors and community leaders, and join. You can sign up at any level of membership at the registration table for the event.


The Lovgren Awards

Named for George Lovgren, the Park Slope activist who in the 1960s worked tirelessly to save the Union Street firehouse (today, Squad 1) from closure, the Lovgren Award has honored one professional and one volunteer every year since 1979.

Sister Mary Maloney

Sister Mary Maloney, the Professional Award recipient, has guided the operation of CHIPS for more than three decades. The Frances Residency Program and the soup kitchen are both projects of CHIPS, a nonsectarian organization that was started in 1972 by parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Church in Park Slope. It is now sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. Sister Mary, a Brooklyn native and registered nurse, came to CHIPS after serving in rural health clinics in Brazil and West Africa.

Under her leadership, CHIPS has grown from a soup kitchen operating out of rented space, where volunteers moved tables each day to set up cots for overnight use by homeless people, to a full-time residence for homeless pregnant women and new mothers, along with a full-time soup kitchen. Hundreds of needy adults and infants receive food, safe shelter, and other services each year.

Sister Mary’s plan to retire last year was thwarted when a five-alarm fire in the auto-parts shop next door caused severe damage to the CHIPS building. The structure was quickly evacuated. After the fire, thousands of dollars worth of food had to be thrown out. There was extensive smoke and water damage that claimed the walls, ceiling, and floors. Once again, Sister Mary directed the organization in a massive fundraising drive to supplement insurance payments and make all needed repairs. Within less than two months, CHIPS was again operating at full strength, and it continues to fulfill its mission. (Learn more about the organization at www.chipsonline.org.)

Bray, the recipient of the Volunteer Award, has chaired the Historic District Committee since 2007. In his first five years in that role, he has worked with a highly dedicated group of volunteers toward the Park Slope Historic District’s first expansion since 1973.

Peter Bray at the official announcement of the Historic District's expansion

Those efforts finally bore fruit in April, when the district was expanded to include parts of the South Slope. Materials for the next phase, which covers more of the North Slope, have already been submitted, and plans for a third phase are being drawn. He has been tireless in the effort to coordinate this initiative to achieve the appropriate government protections that demonstrate respect for Park Slope as an architecturally significant neighborhood.

Bray is executive director of the New York City Financial Network Action Consortium, which he founded in 1999. The consortium provides financial, operational, and technical assistance to New York City’s leading community development credit unions. He was previously director of development programs at the Mount Hope Housing Company, where he developed and implemented programs in housing rehabilitation and economic development. Prior to that, he held management positions at McGraw-Hudson Construction, the South Bronx Development Organization, and the Railroad Relocation Project in Lafayette, Ind.

Bray and Sister Mary join more than 60 individuals and organizations who have been honored in this program. Recent recipients include Joe Holtz, co-founder of the Park Slope Food Coop; one-time Civic Council president Mort Fleischer; former Prospect Park Administrator Tupper Thomas; Matt Pintchik, founder of the Park Slope Volunteer Ambulance Corps; Robert Guskind, founder of the Gowanus Lounge blog; and Catherine Bohne, then-owner of The Community Bookstore, who helped launch the Buy in Brooklyn campaign.

— from the June 2012 Civic News