Executive Director, Sunset Park Restoration
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Tony Giordano has been involved in civic work in Sunset Park since the age of 17. From walking every avenue in Sunset Park with his friends back then, counting the number of wastebaskets on every avenue and noticing there were only six spanning 97 intersections, to helping the community library save thousands of dollars in restoration costs, Giordano has become the eyes and ears of Sunset Park.
As executive director of Sunset Park Restoration, which Giordano calls the “oldest and largest volunteer civic group,” he was able to organize a clean-up of the graffiti-ridden Sunset Park Library on 51st Street.
“I asked the library if they’d give us permission to paint over it [the graffiti] and we gathered neighbors to help paint,” said Giordano. “I came back every Sunday morning at 7 a.m.”
Giordano is also the founder of a successful community Facebook page called The Sunset Parker, “A page for people who live in Sunset Park, have lived in Sunset Park, or anyone who just loves the spirit of our community,” according to the site.
He has even made his name on Facebook, Tony Sunset Park Giordano, and encourages people to reach out to him through that platform. He says former residents from all over the world, residing in places like Italy and California, “appreciate what they learn [about what’s happening in the neighborhood] and they want to contribute.”
MOTIVATION: While Giordano says that his main motivation is in “building community,” the earliest motivators in his community activism were his wife and children.
“Our kids were reaching an age when they were going to go to school. [He and his wife Renee asked each other] Are we going to stay in Sunset Park and raise our kids, or are we going to move to the suburbs?” said Giordano. “If we stay here, then we have to change Sunset Park.”
CAREER/DAY JOB: Now retired, Giordano was an New York City schoolteacher for 34 years.
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I still think it’s coming,” Giordano said. “I feel like there’s something really big coming up.”
PERSONAL LIFE: “My wife Renee and I raised five kids in Sunset Park,” Giordano says of his family life. With wife Renee by his side, Giordano said he is also working on renovating a one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. “The small town is thrilled and excited because we’re preserving the land from developers,” he explained.