New York, NY – Hundreds of people turned out for the Community Resource Fair on Wednesday, February 13, held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on West 59th Street. Multiple booths from a wide range of organizations offered pamphlets full of information on how to take advantage of a slew of programs and resources on the first floor, while flu shots, vision screenings, blood pressure tests and other health services were available on the second floor. The fair was sponsored by New York City Council Speaker and Acting Public Advocate Corey Johnson and Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
Sheila Lowe, Assistant Regional Director for Pre-K, Early Intervention, and Customer Call Center for the New York City Department of Education, was on hand at her booth to explain what attendees could access. “We’re out here to offer information about the New York City Department of Education Office of Public Transportation,” she said. “We offer public, charter, and private transportation for children, and we offer MetroCards, yellow school buses, and specialized transportation for children with disabilities.”
New York School Construction Authority (NYSCA) also had a booth nearby. Steven Tuozzolo, Community Relations Manager, and Michael Mirisola, Director of External Affairs, explained what their organization does. “We build and repair – do major capital improvements – on schools.” They were looking forward to talking to “parents and elected officials” about “jobs that are going on or need to be done,” they said. A woman also asked them about possible internships for students from her organization.
The NYC Department of Transportation displayed many pamphlets about the different aspects of Vision Zero, while the New York City Department of Sanitation made available such offerings as “Simple Ways to Keep Your Neighborhood Clean” with sections about how to “Prepare [Your Trash] Correctly”, how to “Clean Your Sidewalks and Gutters”, and how to “Reduce Litter”. They also advertised for jobs for Emergency Snow Laborers. Applicants could register for jobs shoveling snow and clearing ice after major storms, at a rate of $15 per hour initially, going up to $22.50 per hour after 40 hours worked in a week. A separate booth for Organics and Recycling was set up as well.
Jobs were also advertised by a representative from the NYPD, who had print-outs about work available as NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents and NYPD School Safety Agents. Requirements for each position, duties, as well as starting salaries and information about where to take the relevant exams were available for the taking.
Fire safety was the number one concern at the FDNY booth, where Firefighter Messina answered questions and handed out free batteries and oven knob covers. “Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – it’s important to have these functioning and tested.” The knob covers protect oven knobs from children who confuse them with toys and play with them. “Last year a fire started by children playing with knobs, and it killed thirteen people in the Bronx.” Messina said people were also intrigued by his job – “They ask about the job, what it entails, the work duty we do.”
Another offering was the New York City Small Business Services, reaching out to minority or women business owners. “Make NYC your next customer” they advertised, saying business courses, incentives, training, legal and financial assistance, among other services, were available. A young man of color was buttonholed as he walked by. “Are you interested in opening a business?” he was asked. “No,” he replied, but his brother had a business. “New York City is spending $20 billion dollars on contracts,” he was told. “Wouldn’t you like your brother to get some of that?”