Remembering a Bay Ridge icon, local elected officials and activists came together to celebrate the first step in the renovation of a landmark senior residence in the neighborhood.
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz was joined by St. Nicholas Home board members and community members at the facility, 425 Ovington Avenue, to announce a New York State capital funding grant that will help defray the cost of impending work at the home, as well as celebrate and remember the life of community activist Larry Morrish, who played an integral role in securing the fund, and who died last month.
Ortiz presented the home with a check for $250,000 to jump-start a major renovation to the facility.
“This means the world to us. It allows us really to kick off our capital campaign because we have a vision of renovating the entire ground floor, which is the common area for our senior citizens,” said Edward Mafoud, chairperson of the home’s board of directors. “It’s where they spend most of their time. It will be a tremendous upgrade.”
The upgrade will allow the home to be more inviting for its 75 seniors. “It creates more space to move around as well as an upgrade of the recreation room and dining room,” Mafoud added, noting, “We have a dream of moving the dining room to the other side of the building contiguous with the garden.”
“I am very pleased to announce this funding opportunity for this important project,” added Ortiz. “The St. Nicholas Home is a vital part of our community. It provides residents with a friendly and secure environment and program, ensuring their safety and well being.”
Reverend Khader El-Yateem of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, who led the event in prayer, also discussed what the grant means to the facility, stating that it will enhance the living experience for the residents.
“This will improve the quality of life for the residents who spend the rest of their lives here,” he said. “This is extremely important and we are very appreciative of the assemblymember for this generous grant that will help us do part of the work that we need to do.”
Morrish, who was the founder of the Friends of St. Nicholas Award, was on the minds of all attendees. “We are here today because of a great undertaking of Larry,” said Mafoud. “He came into our home many years ago and most recently as well, looked around and asked what can be done for this home to provide the standard of living that our senior citizens deserve. He was a mover and shaker for the right things and that’s an example for all of us.”
“He can be used as an example as someone who worked hard, and was determined and disciplined to make sure things got done,” added Ortiz.
In addition to the check, a plaque featuring a photo of Morrish that will be displayed in a prominent spot in the facility was unveiled.