For the 25th year in a row, founder and executive director of Reaching-Out Community Services Inc. (RCS) Thomas Neve is continuing to help the less fortunate people in his community.
While he and his program — now centered on a food pantry on New Utrecht Avenue — have come a long way from the mobile outreach program operated out of a used van he bought in 1989, every year is a challenge and as food insecurity continues to plague the borough, Neve currently works to raise money to feed the hungry by means of annual benefit, now in its ninth year.
This year’s gala, held on Thursday, May 18, at Rex Manor, 1100 60th Street, included raffles and a gift auction that featured everything from a suitcase to sports memorabilia, including a bicycle and board games for guests with younger kids.
Honored at the event were six members of the community that have helped the organization in their mission to help the less fortunate. “I don’t have much of anything, but I’ve got so much more than so many others — and I never would’ve known that if my friends weren’t friends of the poor,” he said before the presentation.
Among the honorees, two were from P.S. 48, including Diane Picucci who received the Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Judy Magenta who was recognized as Outstanding Parent Coordinator.
Midway through the warmhearted announcement, the benefit featured Neve’s musical rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “You Will Be My Music” live along with a slideshow projected on a screen. The message Neve aimed to pass on was that people willing to help were like “music to his ears.”
A legislative award went to Councilmember Vincent J. Gentile who returned the compliment. “No person,” said Gentile in reference to Neve when accepting his award, “…sets a higher standard for hard work.”
An award also went to the Mukund Padmanabhan Guru Krupa Foundation for its philanthropic efforts.
Finally the RCS acknowledged Lydia Pizzi with an Outstanding Charitable Service Award, and James “Dogfella” Guiliani of Keno’s Animal Sanctuary as Outstanding Animal Rescue Philanthropist. In a short speech, Guiliani said he was willing to give homes to any creature, broadening the perspective for guests attending that people are not the only ones in need.