The Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC) played to a packed house on Thursday, June 2, as the group celebrated its 65th anniversary during its annual dinner dance.
Held at Sirico’s, 8023 13th Avenue, the event drew supporters of the council founded in the early 1950s by brothers Walter and Vincent Kassenbrock as an umbrella organization gathering together the numerous civic, religious and volunteer groups in the Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights area.
In addition, guests came to cheer BRCC’s two Civic Award winners – Robert Howe, the longtime president of the Merchants of Third Avenue (MTA), and Mike Long, chair of the New York State Conservative Party, both of whom have spent decades working toward the betterment of the community they live in and love.
“We are recognizing them for being part of the community and making it much better,” noted Vincent Bocchino, the two-term president of the BRCC, who was also saluted at the event, as he handed his gavel over to incoming President Ralph Succar, who will have as his first vice president Ilene Sacco, with Janet Gounis serving as second vice president, Nick Nikolopolous as treasurer, Robert Kassenbrock as executive secretary, Joanna Succar as recording secretary, Josephine Giammarino as corresponding secretary, Eileen Potter as historian and Jane Kelly as parliamentarian. The officers were sworn in by Judge Matthew D’Emic
Howe – who in 1994 became MTA’s president — epitomizes the character of the community, noted MTA Executive Secretary Chuck Otey. Bay Ridge, he said, has “survived and sustained and prospered” because of its deep-seated tradition of volunteerism which he exemplifies. “We wouldn’t have the community council if it weren’t for people like Bob Howe.”
Similarly, Jerry Kassar, the chair of the Kings County Conservative Party, saluted Long, noting that his activism began long before he lived in Bay Ridge, when he was a resident of Cypress Hills. “Mike Long is all about civics, about making a difference. It’s in his genes, as it’s in the genes of a lot of people in this room.”
“I’m very fortunate to be a part of this community,” said Long. “I receive this award only in the shadow of those who received it before, and I receive it in the shadow of all the people here tonight. It’s not about me. It’s about making Bay Ridge a better place.”
“This community is unique. Its residents are over-involved,” agreed Howe, who lauded the BRCC for its “almost seven decades of involvement in the community, providing a focal point for about 100 organizations.
“The biggest civic award,” he concluded, “should always belong to the Bay Ridge Community Council.”