On the Avenue: HeartShare School vocational program truly a hidden gem!

Talk about a hidden gem!

During a leisurely weekend walk “on the avenue” with my little puppy Penelope, I came across a table set up outside Charmed by JLM, 8311 Third Ave., that was packed with handmade jewelry being showcased by a group known as Ash & Co.

Named for designer Ashlly Salce, the group’s display included dozens of colorful bracelets featuring a variety of designs and gemstones. It was enough for me to snap into “reporter mode” and begin asking questions.

What I discovered made me proud to be from Bay Ridge and even more proud to be able to share this story with the community through this column.

It turns out that Salce and her group had been invited to set up shop for the day outside the popular boutique by proprietors Jeanine Condon, Lisa Larkin and Melissa Franz in an effort to get the word out about their creations and their unique story. I was surprised to learn that the talented designer was not technically a businessperson (yet), but a student at The HeartShare School, located “on the avenue” at 1825 Bath Ave.

In fact, her teacher Rachel Kramer told me that Salce’s inherent talent for jewelry design had actually led to the creation of an entire program at the school, which services students ages 5 to 21 with autism spectrum disorders. The goal of the school is to allow its students the chance to “experience a curriculum and therapies for a brighter, more independent future,” according to its website.

“Ash & Co. was founded in January 2023 by the students and staff of Classroom 107 of The HeartShare School,” Kramer told us. “This started out as a hobby for Ashlly, but it has turned into a school vocational program that provides unique and custom jewelry to others, all made by students with disabilities. It’s a great way for these students to learn skills that they will need as they grow and begin to enter the workforce.”

Condon, who serves on the board of the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Inc., was pleased to welcome Kramer, Salce and the HeartShare crew.

“We’re so happy to be able to share the great work being done by these HeartShare students and to get the word out about this program,” she said. “The bracelets are beautiful and very high-quality. It’s really amazing!”

The program relies on sales and donations to purchase the materials and supplies it needs to continue to create handcrafted custom jewelry for the community to enjoy. For information on how you can purchase bracelets, or to donate to this wonderful program, email ash.co@heartshare.org.

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Come for the information, stay for the cookies!

Members of Scouting America’s Troop 18G will be hosting a “Cookie Social” event “on the avenue” at Bay Ridge Catholic Academy’s Meletia Hall, 365 83rd St., on May 28, beginning at 7 p.m.

The all-girl troop — which is part of the recently rebranded Boy Scouts of America — is led by Scoutmaster Shirley Chin and meets every Tuesday evening at the academy to discuss community service projects, plan camping trips, learn skills and gain confidence.  

Members of Scouting America’s Troop 18G marched in the 2023 Ragamuffin Parade, joined by Grand Marshal Josephine Beckmann (far right) and Person of the Year John Quaglione. Photo courtesy of Shirley Chin

“It’s a small troop right now, and it’s very new, but we’re hoping to continue to grow once more people realize that this is something different,” Chin said. “It’s one of the first and only all-girl troops affiliated with the Boy Scouts here.”

Among other things, this affiliation allows for girls to earn the coveted and prestigious rank of Eagle Scout as they advance through their careers in Scouting.

Chin has been a fixture in the Bay Ridge Scouting community for many years and is excited to see her daughter Kelly aspire to achieve Eagle Scout status.

After a long day of volunteering and doing good in Bay Ridge, Scoutmaster Shirley Chin treats members of Troop 18G to ice cream “on the avenue.” Photo courtesy of Shirley Chin

“It’s great for her and for other girls who want to continue their Scouting careers to be rewarded with the highest honor that can be achieved,” she said. “They certainly put in the work to be the best Scouts they can be and to give back to their community.”

Troop 18G is open to all girls from sixth through 12th grade. For more information, email bsatroop18g@yahoo.com.

See you at the “Cookie Social!”

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If you’re doing something noteworthy “on the avenue,” reach out to me at rick@brooklyneagle.com!

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