I was 19 when Hitler arrived in my hometown of Vienna. Harassment of Jews began immediately, so my parents and I made arrangements to emigrate to Palestine. It was easier for students to leave the country, so my parents sent me on ahead.
Before I started attending the QCH All Starz afterschool program at Halsey, JHS 157, I had never played soccer a day in my life. A few months after I started the program, I realized I loved to play and was getting really good at it.
QCH opened up a Beacon Program in my Junior High School when I was in 8th grade. The program offered a safe space to hang out with friends and get advice from counselors. It’s exactly what I needed at the time, so my friends and I joined. That was twenty years ago.
This is my first year attending the Beacon Afterschool Program at JHS 190, and I haven’t missed a single day yet. Even if I’m sick, I still go to the program. There’s always something you can learn, and I like to learn.
I am originally from Khartoum, Sudan. My father is a diplomat, and when I was three months old, my family moved to Pakistan, then to Dubai, then to Morocco. After each assignment, we’d go home to Sudan and wait for the next move. My fondest memories are from Morocco.
I packed my bags and left El Salvador in 1991 in search of a better life for my family. I’m from the capital, San Salvador, where violent crime is rampant and life is very insecure. My oldest sons and parents still live there, and they depend on me to work and send money home.
I’ve lived in the Pomonok Houses for almost 40 years. I stay involved with this community in every way I can. I’m the PTA Treasurer at the local school, where I coordinate nutrition workshops for the parents. I try to make sure everyone around here knows about the Pomonok Community Center.
I live in Astoria, I’m 71, and I’m a gay senior. I married my wife in 1970, and we have two kids. They all know about me. Coming out wasn’t nearly as difficult as leaving the kids, the house, all the friends.
I was born in Manhattan in 1918. In fourth grade, my family bought a bakery, and we moved to the Bronx. Those were very prosperous times for us. Our closets and tables were always filled with bread. When the stock market crashed, times were tough, but we pulled through.