Anne Foner, Professor, Volunteer

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By Lizbeth Brosnan

Anne Foner, retired sociology professor, reminisces easily about her students and their ever-stimulating conversations. However, her least favorite part about 25 years of teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey was the large volume of papers she had to grade.

After her husband, Mo,  became ill, she moved from Queens to Manhattan and cut back on her own writing and publishing, and turned to volunteer work.

Anne has two daughters and one granddaughter. One daughter lives on the Manhattan’s East side, while the other lives in her same Westside apartment building. She sees her family often and plans on getting together with them for the holidays.

After mandated retirement, Anne did not leave the field of sociology right away. She continued to be involved in academic publishing for as long as she could. “I was really lucky to continue to work,” Anne explained.

She also continued to volunteer at a number of places, Anne describes as a “continuity of what I was doing before.”  To Anne, retirement presented opportunity, adding that it is a  myth is that retirement is a terrible thing in which you lose all contacts and any meaningful work. She explains how not everything falls apart, and that it is just a different stage of life.

One organization where Anne had volunteered after retirement was called Partners in Conversation in Queens. Here, Anne helped those who did not know much English practice their English skills through conversation. She worked with a diverse group of men and women, ranging in age. Anne shared that when looking for somewhere to volunteer, “trying to find something interesting is not easy.”

As she got older, Anne also continued to teach classes at NYU. Anne had a long and extremely interesting career and is very lucky to be able to have continued to work in the field that she loved for so many years.

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Freddy, Manager, Burger Lodge

By Lizbeth Brosnan

Burger Lodge, located on East 189th Street in the Bronx between Belmont and Cambreleng Avenue is a staple restaurant for Fordham students, catering to their desire for some traditional comfort food. The menu is large and diverse and the atmosphere is especially welcoming.  Hungry Fordham students can always be found in this popular joint.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere is something that makes Burger Lodge especially enjoyable for customers.

In talking to Freddy, manager of Burger Lodge, we learned some about his family and the history of the restaurant, which opened last February. Freddy spoke with pride and respect about his son, Ferso, who is not only a student at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, but the actual owner of Burger Lodge.  It is easy to tell that he is very proud of his son for accomplishing his dream of establishing a popular restaurant for college students.

Freddy, originally from Macedonia, has lived in the Bronx ever since coming to the United States.

The best part about Burger Lodge, he says, is that “The customers are happy with the food”. Everyone is always happy with the food. Freddy explained how the customers are mostly students from Fordham. There is even a Burger Lodge challenge, nicknamed “Lodgezilla” by a Fordham University student.

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Mary Douglas, Hospital Volunteer

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Mary Douglas, Retired Schoolteacher

and Volunteer at St. Barnabas Hospital

by Katie Russo

Mary Douglas was introduced as a volunteer at St. Barnabas Hospital, but we quickly learned that she was so much more than that.

Douglas was born in the Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk region of North Carolina as Mary Albritton. Her parents were farmers. The first time she came to New York City was in high school, with some family.

Douglas was the valedictorian of her high school, and was loved and praised by all her teachers. She always knew she wanted to teach, and each teacher wanted to her to specialized in their subject. The principal of her high school told her the best thing for her to be was an elementary school teacher, in order to teach a bit of everything.

To become a teacher, Douglas attended Elizabeth City State University, where she said that the college president was like another parent to her. Both her parents and the president were hard on her and made sure she lived up to their standards, reminding her she didn’t know everything. That same president signed her on to live and work at the college her senior year, then recommended her to her first job in Crisfield, Maryland.

Douglas said she “felt so alone” in Crisfield, without anyone to look after her like her parents and the college president had. The teaching job she had there was very strict—they could not be seen buying alcohol or with people of ill repute, and had to attend church on Sundays. She met and married her husband, Frederick Richard Allen Douglas (who went by “Douglas” to avoid the inevitable conclusion of Frederick Douglass), a Korean War veteran. Eventually, they moved to New York City, where Mary Douglas taught at an elementary school on 180th Street, Louise Archer Elementary. She retired Feb. 2, 1985, at the age of 56.

Douglas had never taken a day off, so when she went to retire, she had months of paid leave she could use. She took her leave from September 1984 until January 1985, and used that time to attend medical aide training school. To become a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA), one must complete 122 hours of in class training and 32 hours of hospital training, the latter of which Douglas did at St. Barnabas Hospital. Douglas got 100 on her tests and was the top of her class at medical aide school, as well as being an honors student. She graduated in Riverside Church with her class of 1,500 people. The woman who ran the program, a Ms. Respoli, asked “What kind of people would you like to work with?” Douglas replied “Senior citizens” and has been working mostly with them ever since. Continue reading

Chris Borgatti, Ravioli Maker

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By Lizeth Brosnan and Jenna LoFaro

Chris Borgatti is the current owner of Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodles on 187th street just off of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Chris is the third generation to take ownership of this family run business.

He has worked in the store since he was a young boy with his father, Mario along with other family members. He says that working in the Borgatti store, at least for a short time, has become a rite of passage in his family. His own son worked in the store as a boy and now attends Fordham University’s continuing studies program after having graduated from the Gabelli School of Business.

Chris recounted some of the history of his beloved shop. He said that his grandparents opened the shop after immigrating to the Bronx from Italy, 81 years ago. At that time, the store was about half the size of what it is today.

He also spoke about the progression of their ravioli sales. Saying that originally, his grandparents would mass produce hundreds of tiny raviolis and sell them at a price of one dollar for every hundred.

Today, Chris still uses the same recipes as his grandparents did when the opened the shop in 1935. He notes that the demand and customer base for his family’s product is still very much alive and growing, something of which he is very proud.

Like many New Yorkers, he feels great connection to the neighborhood and city he grew up in. He is both happy and proud to be carrying on his family’s legacy in that very neighborhood today and to be continue providing the community with a high quality product.

Michael Zweig, Economist, Activist

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By Jenna Lofaro

Michael Zweig is an accomplished economist, professor, and author. He has worked as a professor at SUNY at Stony Brook and been awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching as well as the President’s Award for excellence in teaching.  He also sees himself as an activist in social causes.

When asked how he charted his life, he said that as a young adult he was very much like every other confused college student, unsure of direction.  His family always had maintained a large involvement in his life, and he remembers taking a lot of science and math courses because his father had been an engineer and his brother a mathematician. The concepts of math found in certain parts of economics were always there in the background.

While attending college, Michael also found himself involved in the Civil Rights Movement, which had just started to take off. Later, he found himself involved in many more social movements throughout the decades, including the anti-war movements over Vietnam.

He was and still is very passionate about social movements. Social movements are one of the main influences on history in today’s world, he said.

He even asked me why I thought social movements were so important in the nation’s history and how they had come about. He smiled and nodded in agreement to my answer that social movements build when groups of people feel they have not been heard and that their issues in society have not been acknowledged. So they band together and make themselves heard so that the problem no longer can be ignored.

Along with his involvement in social movements, Zweig is also very active union worker. Unions are very important to seeking and achieving goals for the group they present. Continue reading

Debbie Quinones, Coquito mixer

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By Lisbeth Brosnan

Coquito is a coconut-based alcoholic beverage traditionally served in Puerto Rico. A Coquito recipe is unique to the family that makes it. On November 13, 2016, The Bronx Museum for the Arts hosted winners and finalists of the Annual Coquito Masters competition. This event allowed the finalists to sell their delicious coquitos at the museum.

Debbie Quinones, founder of the International Coquito Tasting Federation, spoke passionately and excitedly about the special Puerto Rican drink.

“The ingredients really represent imperialism. All the ingredients do not grow in Puerto Rico indigenously,” stated Debbie The ingredients include rum, coconut milk, sweet condensed milk, egg yolk, nutmeg and cinnamon. Although these are the main ingredients, “Every family has their own special way of making it.”

Debbie explained how “There is always that one person in a family who passes down the recipe”. For Debbie, it was a family of friend of hers that taught her how to make coquito.

In 2001, Debbie started the Coquito Contest in her house so people could get access to coquito. “The contest represents an opportunity to celebrate pride.” Continue reading

Carolyn Stem, Age Friendly NYC

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By Carly Loy

Slightly uptown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is the New York Academy of Medicine. Here, Carolyn Stem works for a program called Age Friendly NYC. The Age Friendly NYC employees and volunteers collaborate with the mayor and his council to create initiatives to implement into the inner workings of New York City.

When former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first started the program, he asked all city departments to evaluate how “age friendly” they were. From that data, he created 59 initiatives to help make New York CIty more suitable to our aging community. Age Friendly NYC interviews specific seniors, runs polls, and more to assist in the process of creating a senior-friendly environment in the city that many  call home.

Carolyn Stem is not your average worker. She was actually retired before joining Age Friendly NYC. She came from a proactive family: Her father and uncle both worked in steel and her brother was a journalist — and all were involved in unions.

However, she wanted to follow her passion of opera singing which led the 18-year-old Carolyn Stem to New York City under an Opera and Voice program at Mannes College. This talent of hers even lead her to spend three years in Vienna under a fellowship. However, there is not a very large market for opera singers in the United States. When she returned to New York City, she continued looking for Continue reading