Six community activists and one organization have been named “Hidden Treasures of the Community” by the Bay Ridge Community Council.
The honors, this year, went to Chip Cafiero, Mafalda DiMango, Calvin Fischetti, Era Fischetti, Nancy Gasparino, Janet General and the Bayfort Benevolent Associates.
All were toasted during BRCC’s September meeting, held in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road. The awards were distributed by the co-chairpeople of BRCC’s Civic Affairs Committee, Alex Conti and Jonathan Judge.
Cafiero, a founding member and the executive director of CERT1NYC, is also the chairperson of the Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst Parks Task Force and a member of numerous community groups. Now retired as a teacher, he spends his time putting together community events such as the Third Avenue Festival, the Halloween Haunted Walk and the Concerts in the Park.
“I know almost everyone here,” remarked Cafiero. “I’ve probably worked with almost everybody and if I haven’t yet, I’m sure you’re going to rope me into something. When you love what you do it’s easy to do it.”
DiMango has over five decades of community activism to her credit. She is a long-standing member of the Dyker Heights Civic Association and a member of Community Board 11, was a long-serving member of the District 20 school board and now is a member of the district’s Community Education Council.
“It’s quite an honor to be given this award by the most prestigious organization in the city,” DiMango told the group, praising them for their own activism. “Looking around,” she said, “I know that so many of you have been involved in so many organizations over the years.”
Both Fischettis – whose son, Anthony, has Downs Syndrome – have made their mark as advocates for the developmentally disabled, and for their efforts on behalf of the Guild for Exceptional Children.
“Mr. Fischetti’s leadership has been critical to the opening of two residences for adults with developmental disabilities and the opening of the Msgr. Thomas F. Cribbin Center for Children,” noted Conti. Calvin Fischetti was Guild president for four years.
As for Era Fischetti, she has “Devoted her life to advocacy for children and adults with developmental disabilities,” Conti said, “serving on numerous committees, such as the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Mental Retardation Council of Brooklyn and proposal review committee, the executive board of the Guild for Exceptional Children, the executive board of the Brooklyn Mental Retardation Council and the Brooklyn Family Support Committee.”
“The relationship I have with the Bay Ridge community as well as the Guild is deep and extremely important to me,” noted Calvin Fischetti. “If it wasn’t for the Guild, I wouldn’t be here and I’m very happy that I’m here. Bay Ridge is a very important part of me.”
“My husband said it all,” noted Era Fischetti.
Gasparino is a long-time PTA president who served as president of the District 20 Presidents Council until her youngest child graduated from intermediate school. “She has worked relentlessly to help the schools in this community raise funds and advocate for children,” stressed Conti.
General, noted Conti, is “no stranger to our community.” She has, he said, been involved in numerous organizations, especially those connected with young people. Current, she is chair of the CERT community partnership committee and vice president and team chief for the Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst CERT.
“I don’t recognize that person you read about,” noted General when she accepted her award, remarking as well on the “many people in Bay Ridge who volunteer who are perhaps more deserving than I am.”
Bayfort Benevolent Associates was founded after World War II by returning servicemen who wanted to do something for needy people living in the neighborhood. Their initial efforts grew into the current Holiday Endeavor, said Conti, in which the group distributes baskets of food to families in need. “Their mission statement,” he noted, “is neighbor helping neighbor.”
“We are very fortunate to live in such a wonderful community,” remarked J. Peter Clavin, who picked up Bayfort’s award. “Continue doing what you are doing,” he told the assembled activists.
BRCC’s community service awards were started after 9/11, recalled Conti, to recognize individuals and groups that had gone the extra mile in that crisis. The awards are now in their sixth year.