BAY RIDGE — Breakfast is served!
Bay Ridge residents often describe their neighborhood as a small town in the big city and a local charitable organization is hoping to prove the point by hosting a community pancake breakfast later this month to give neighbors a chance to get to know each other.
Bay Ridge Cares, a non-profit group of community do-gooders, is hosting its Third Annual Community Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Saint Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, 192 81st St., from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Karen Tadross, president and founding member of Bay Ridge Cares, said the event is designed to give residents a chance to become acquainted with each other.
The event is carefully planned right down to the last detail. “We try to sit people with people they don’t know. And we give out icebreaker cards to stimulate conversation,” Tadross told the Home Reporter.
Despite the name of the breakfast, the food will include more than just pancakes. Participants can munch on scrambled eggs, bacon (both turkey and pork) and potatoes and drink coffee and juice. The food will be prepared by Tom’s Diner.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, a co-founder of Bay Ridge Cares, said he’s looking forward to the community breakfast.
“Bay Ridge Cares really brings people together. It is a magical thing to behold and be a part of,” he told the Home Reporter in an email. “This is the real International House of Pancakes because you have people from all walks of life coming together as neighbors to enjoy some food and get to know each other. It’s as simple as that — getting back to the basics of community building and celebrating our diversity across all backgrounds and beliefs. And everybody loves pancakes!”
The idea for the breakfast originated in 2018 when Bay Ridge Cares members were chatting about how much they enjoyed the neighborhood’s friendly, small-town vibe. They tossed around ideas on how to bring that neighborly feeling to life. “We thought about the breakfasts you see in the firehouse or a school gymnasium in a small town and decided we would try to replicate it,” Tadross said.
The first two Bay Ridge Cares pancake breakfasts, in 2018 and 2019, were very successful, according to Tadross. “We are amazed at how quickly the event sells out,” she said. “Last year, it sold out in five days.”
At this year’s breakfast, red hearts will be placed on all of the tables so that attendees can write down their favorite things about living in Bay Ridge.
“The theme of Bay Ridge Cares this year is ‘Spread kindness and watch it grow.’ We’re encouraging people to perform small acts of kindness for others: opening a door, giving someone a seat on the bus, helping someone carry packages,” Tadross said.
The theme is partly meant to serve as a counterpoint to the political climate in the country, Tadross said. “This is going to be such a divisive year in politics, in the nation with the presidential election, and here in Bay Ridge. Our goal is to put that aside and invest in the community,” she said.
Bay Ridge Cares, which has 501-C3 status with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, was formed in 2012 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy by Tadross, Justin Brannan (now a city councilmember), Andrew Gounardes (now a state senator) and a small group of local residents who wanted to find a way to help victims whose homes were flooded.
“Justin called me up and said, ‘Karen, we need a kitchen.’ He had this idea to cook meals. I was able to use my church kitchen,” said Tadross, a member of St. Mary’s Church.
“We sent out 25,000 meals. After things calmed down, we knew that we needed to keep something like this going,” Tadross said.
Brannan and Gounardes are no longer on the board of directors of Bay Ridge Cares due to their positions as elected officials. The board members are Tadross, Jeff Samaha and Chandra Hira.
Bay Ridge Cares has performed a variety of charitable deeds in the community, including hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at Shore Hill, delivering Thanksgiving meals to homebound elderly and sprucing up the Fort Hamilton Senior Citizens Center with a fresh coat of paint.
Reservations are required for the Community Pancake Breakfast. Tickets are $10 per person for adults. Children under 12 are free. Seating is limited to 175 persons. For reservations, visit: brc-pancakes-eventbrite.com.
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