STAR OF BROOKLYN: Arlene Keating

Arlene Keating – Executive Secretary of the Bay Ridge Community Council

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Keating has held her title at the Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC) for four years, but has been involved with the organization for close to a decade. She describes her role as distinctive within the BRCC. “The position of executive secretary is unique insofar as in the 60-year history of the Bay Ridge Community Council, there have only been eight executive secretaries,” Keating explained. “All the other officers have to be elected each year. The executive secretary is kind of a life sentence. You serve as long as you want.” Established in 1951, the BRCC is made up of over 90 local organizations. Its diversity is what makes the group special, according to Keating. “There is no other umbrella organization like the BRCC in existence, both in longevity and purpose,” she said.

PERSONAL: Excluding a less-than-satisfying two years spent on Long Island in the 1990s, Keating has spent her entire life in Bay Ridge. She openly expresses her love for the area and concern for its future. “It is my hope that Bay Ridge continues to be the stable, healthy community that it is,” she said. Keating has a 38-year-old daughter and two grandchildren, ages seven and 10. She is engaged to marry her longtime companion, George Panos.

PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Keating is particularly proud of the Bay Ridge Night Out at the Cyclones event that she organizes in July of each year. Proceeds collected at the event — which Keating started in 2009 — are donated to non-profit Reaching Out Community Services, which serves 4,000 needy families out of its food pantry at 7708 New Utrecht Avenue. But it’s not just the charitable aspect of the day that she enjoys. “It’s another opportunity for the Bay Ridge Community Council to get together with our neighbors,” she said. “Nothing is closed to anybody. Everything is open to the entire community.”

INSPIRATION: When asked to explain why she is engaged in all of volunteer work that she does – Keating is also a trustee of the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund and secretary of the Ragamuffin Parade Committee – her answer is simple: She enjoys it. “It gets me the heck off the couch and out of the house,” Keating said. “I think it keeps you young. It’s the opportunity to interact with people. It’s a chance to debate, discuss and exchange ideas and learn.”

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