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WHAT WILL THE AUDIENCE LEARN?
Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is building a new facility that will serve 16,000 young people inWestern Queens by 2026. The new building will have the first planetarium in Queens, 1000 seat arena,regulation swimming pool, 175 seat backbox among other amenities. By 2030, we are looking to serve 30,000 young people in the borough of Queens.
For 65 years, The Salah M. Hassanein Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ) has been an anchor in the Astoria/Long Island City community, offering children a safe haven to learn, play, and grow into tomorrow's leaders. Since opening its doors, VBGCQ has upheld a strong tradition of community leadership to make a difference in the lives of young people.
Each and everyday, we manifest our mission through the Club's core program areas: Academic Enhancement, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Healthy Living and the Arts. Our comprehensive range of programs are offered to all children (ages 6-18) including homework help, swimming and sports, coding, engineering, gourmet
Costa Constantinides serves as the CEO for the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. Variety serves over 4000 young people per year and in his new role Costa has helped secure millions in capital funding towards their re-imagined clubhouse that will serve 16,000 kids.
As chair of the Environmental Protection Committee from 2015 to 2021, he was committed to fighting the effects of climate change and keeping it from forever changing New York City’s landscape. Costa is a nationally recognized expert on climate change. Sustainability, resiliency, and air quality have been among Costa’s top environmental issues long before he was sworn in.
Name of your organization: Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens
Facebook: Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens
LinkedIn: Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens
Tommy D talks to Costa Constantinides, the CEO of Variety Boys and Girls club or Queens. He is a former city council member and very involved in the community. He grew up in New York and put himself through college. He spent eight years as a city council member. He grew to love serving his community during his time as a city council member and transitioned from public office to CEO of Variety Boys and Girls. He dropped out of college twice and started college at 26. He did not think he wanted to serve his community until he started helping people and developed a passion for it. His aspiration is to serve the community. He is passionate about helping people.
Costa also became a part of the NYC justice advisory board and New York City economic board. He has been outspoken about climate change and preventative measures. The burning of fossil fuels can cause health risks such as asthma. He is passionate about fighting climate change. He plans on creating a renewable energy hub at Rikers Island once it closes. It aims to be closed in 2027. The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens aims to give children a place to go to be productive and to have fun. The club aims to give children a lifeline during tough times.
Tommy D highlights the importance of community for young people and how Costa and the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is able to provide this. The organization provides hot meals and snacks for the children. They also host a program called power hour in which children are able to receive help on their homework. After that they can choose whatever activities they want such as sports and selection of all different types of clubs. The teens show up at about 5pm and they are provided with snacks and they are free to play sports or join clubs until 9pm. The organization mixes in financial literacy and SAT prep for the teens. Costa discusses a few of the success stories the club has produced. The two discuss college and Tommy D talks about his college experience.
The organization aims to grow and build a lot more amenities for the community. Costa hopes these amenities will help underprivileged children. These amenities include a black box theater and planetarium. Above this building there will be affordable housing. Costa hopes for it to be built by 2026.
00:00:38.670 --> 00:01:07.210 Tommy DiMisa: Wow! Every single week I get to do this, I said, I get to do this. I learned something on social beauty this morning. Some people say, oh, man, I gotta go pick up my kids or I gotta run to this meeting or I gotta yeah. But what if we look at it? We frame it differently. Say, I get to do this. I get to go pick up my children. I get to go to that meeting. Right word play, is it? Word players? It's semantics, I don't know, but it makes you think of things differently. Does your boy tell me to the nonprofit sector connector
00:01:07.210 --> 00:01:08.760 Tommy DiMisa: coming at you
00:01:09.120 --> 00:01:19.290 Tommy DiMisa: out of breath. You know why i'm out of breath, everybody because I come up 2 flights to get to the attic just below the roof. That's where I hail from. That's where this
00:01:19.340 --> 00:01:38.820 Tommy DiMisa: studio, if you'll bear me that the freedom to call where I operate from a studio. But this is where I hail from my attic. I do this particular program every single Friday morning. Do a couple of things with the leaders of nonprofit organizations. If I haven't set up the shows called philanthropy and focus, I might not have even said it yet. But if I haven't.
00:01:38.820 --> 00:01:41.030 Tommy DiMisa: I just did again. But here's a deal
00:01:41.460 --> 00:01:51.840 Tommy DiMisa: I get this opportunity to meet with leaders of nonprofit organizations. I think today is episode 117 to 118 of an idea
00:01:51.840 --> 00:02:10.970 Tommy DiMisa: that I had a figment of my imagination. And now I get the opportunity every week to do this show to live out. I used to laugh when people would be doing a job and saying, i'd say, hey, how you doing? They would say, live in the dream, and I knew they weren't really living. The dream, they would just say, live in the dream, and they would really be, you know, doing a job. But I found out that this
00:02:11.300 --> 00:02:19.250 Tommy DiMisa: hour that I carve out, and and in particular many hours I get to hang out in the nonprofit sector each week. But this particular hour is incredibly important to me.
00:02:19.480 --> 00:02:29.860 Tommy DiMisa: and I am living a dream here, man, because this is something I came up with, and it's something that I do every week. The 2 things we do is I help the leader of the nonprofit tell their story, and, as I like to say.
00:02:29.870 --> 00:02:40.280 Tommy DiMisa: amplify their message, amplify their message of how critically important the programmatic work that they're doing. The community involvement is that they're doing. And really.
00:02:40.360 --> 00:03:17.770 Tommy DiMisa: especially when we talk about an organization like we're going to talk to the CEO of Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens here this morning, my friend Costa, we're gonna talk about the impact and the change on the trajectory of young people's lives. We'll get into that in just a couple of minutes. But before I even go, because I got a couple of things I got to say in it in a second, but I want to just say good morning to you, so it's not like you're you're lonely. I don't want to leave you. I'm so lonely. I don't want you to be lonely close to comes down to what's up, brother? How are you, hey, Tommy? How are you, brother? Great, Thank you so much for having me on. I'm thrilled to have you on. I will say this if You're only listening on the podcast world or streaming somewhere.
00:03:17.780 --> 00:03:23.110 Tommy DiMisa: I will. You don't get to see my great variety, Boys and Girls Club. Hoodie, I will tell you. This
00:03:23.130 --> 00:03:43.750 Tommy DiMisa: It is not hoodie weather right now, but you know what I'm taking one for. The team is about 75 degrees probably 80 degrees here in the attic, but I wanted to wear my hoodie and I'm, and that's you guys. Sometimes you got to tough it out. Call Star, you know. That's just the way it is right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got to make the do the hard work. That's it. One of these. Next time I got the
00:03:43.750 --> 00:04:05.270 Tommy DiMisa: I got the I got the the polo. Oh, so that's the polo, all right. So let me. We have a whole bunch of swacks. I love swag. I really do i'm a big fan. It's not a requirement that I get free stuff, but I do like to get when people hook me up, but it's funny like I said, Talk about free stuff. I was out with you for a tour shadow to Uncle Brendan. Levy my buddy from the Queen's Chamber Commerce.
00:04:05.270 --> 00:04:09.140 and he took us on a tour with you and your team, and it was really really special.
00:04:09.140 --> 00:04:39.110 Tommy DiMisa: and I just made a comment because you had the hoodie on, and I was like, oh, man, it's a really cool hoodie. I love hoodies. The next thing I know you go into the back, and you got like 7 hoodies for those of us who were on the tour, and everybody got a hoodie, and everybody gets already, and and which which was so like generous of you, and we appreciate it, and I appreciate. I'm rocking it, man. I rock it all the time because I love to wear a hoodie is even in the summertime, when it's cool out, you know shorts and a hoodie nothing but
00:04:39.110 --> 00:04:57.170 Tommy DiMisa: but you didn't come here to hear about my wardrobe. Everybody, or maybe you did, and if you did I could keep talking about it. Let me know. Here's what we Here's a couple of things I wanted to point out before we get into our conversation about your background cost of the organization, the work they do. I want to shout out a couple of things this week. What is it when you're the nonprofit sector connector?
00:04:57.260 --> 00:05:13.030 Tommy DiMisa: Let me tell you. Wednesday night I was in the city with an organization that's a client of ours, our firm vanguard benefits. We do the benefits for exponents. This is an organization down in Lower Manhattan Battery Park. What a great view of Liberty State Park, and the whole the whole thing down there.
00:05:13.440 --> 00:05:21.550 Tommy DiMisa: They work with individuals, with mental health issues, with substance, abuse issues, and people living with HIV and or Aids.
00:05:22.080 --> 00:05:35.700 Tommy DiMisa: And this is a 35 year Old Organization had a wonderful time with with the leadership and and the folks there and there was awards given out. That was Wednesday night, only to go Thursday morning to with lunch lunchtime, a lunching with
00:05:35.700 --> 00:05:44.670 Tommy DiMisa: transitional services for New York, Tsi and Y out of queens, serving 4,000 individuals with mental health issues in the city. I left that event
00:05:44.800 --> 00:05:57.250 Tommy DiMisa: brief time back home to go to a gala last night with an organization called Tigerman, which is a special education or a a community of schools that serve the intellectually and developmentally disabled.
00:05:57.250 --> 00:06:10.020 Tommy DiMisa: And that's shout out to my body, Scott Horowitz from Td. Bank, who's on the board there, and invited me to be his plus one, and he was a great guy to hang out with. Last night we had a lifetime met some great people, but that's what it's all about. It's about putting the in the names out there.
00:06:10.020 --> 00:06:24.780 Tommy DiMisa: shouting out the organizations, letting everybody know that's what philanthropy and focus is. It's my opportunity to tell you about these organizations and then great work they're doing. It is mental health awareness month. So that is certainly something that I am very mindful of. Later in the month we'll have
00:06:24.930 --> 00:06:38.350 Tommy DiMisa: Matt. Kudish, the Executive Director CEO of Nami Nyc. The National Association on Mental Illness, and he'll be on the show to round off the month of May, so cause that without further, do really let let let's get into it. I mean
00:06:38.760 --> 00:07:04.060 Tommy DiMisa: City Council Member for a number of years very involved in the community, I mean. I could read some of this stuff. Just you help secure millions and capital funding towards this reimagined clubhouse which you're going to be talking about today. 16,000 kids are going to be served by the organization at that point. We can get into the the building that's coming. I saw the plans. I had that opportunity to do that, and I was a blessed to be a part of that, just to see the vision of what you all are doing, and
00:07:04.060 --> 00:07:10.990 Tommy DiMisa: you know in you I met some of your Board members there, Walter Sanchez. Right, Walter. The board Chair.
00:07:11.070 --> 00:07:19.550 Tommy DiMisa: Yes. So borne a book. President. Yeah, we're president for President, so we can get into all this today. What I really want to start with is
00:07:19.970 --> 00:07:28.420 Tommy DiMisa: for you, sir. Where'd you come from? What's your background? What are you doing? And how do you get to this point where you're leading this very important organization.
00:07:28.820 --> 00:07:45.560 Costa Constantinides: Tommy, that Thank you. I I really appreciate being on today, and and that's being focused. You know, you guys non sector pre connector. You do your thing. I I really appreciate you coming out to the club and touring with us and get to know me better and get to know your organization
00:07:45.560 --> 00:07:53.570 Costa Constantinides: better. So the fact that you took the time out of your busy schedule for us i'm super grateful brother. But you know I I grew up in a story up.
00:07:53.580 --> 00:08:10.570 Costa Constantinides: you know I I've been here my whole life. My I went to Ps. 84, 122 Brian High school. My first job was on Genesis, on Steinway. Street. Yeah. Well, we used to have Genevieve's man there used to be one in new Eyed Park, on Hillside Avenue to go to that Jennifer. So I remember.
00:08:10.570 --> 00:08:25.750 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, I I worked right on Steinway and thirtieth 30 first to back in the day and put myself through college, going to Queen, you know, at the Queen's College, working as a manager at Kb. Toys, because I dropped out of college twice and started college when I was 26 years old.
00:08:26.010 --> 00:08:31.070 Costa Constantinides: So I mean I, you know, put myself through college, went to law school.
00:08:31.070 --> 00:09:01.070 Costa Constantinides: and while I was in law school they plucked me to go work at the City Council. I was legislative director to accounts. Member darling Mealy, and then counts from Jim Jenniro, whose wife, when the very, very well Qcp. And all the work she does with with the population, adults with intellectual developmental disabilities, shout out, Wendy love you! We gotta get Terry from to Ross, from from Qcp. On the show. But so right. So Wendy married to Jim Generis, who you work.
00:09:01.070 --> 00:09:05.190 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, it works for Jim for 6 years, and I ran for office myself. And I,
00:09:05.260 --> 00:09:13.780 Costa Constantinides: you know, spent 6 years, I mean 8 years as a city council member, and it was a blast I was. It was a blessing on my life to serve the neighborhood. I grew up.
00:09:13.860 --> 00:09:15.950 Costa Constantinides: and i'm raising my own son.
00:09:15.970 --> 00:09:19.720 Costa Constantinides: He learned to swim at the Boys and Girls Club. My mom
00:09:19.760 --> 00:09:36.120 Costa Constantinides: actually worked. There was her first job back in the workforce 30 years ago. She worked there for about a year as a bookkeeper, so I knew the boys and girls well of supportive of their outfits. When I was a Council member, and I got a phone call one day from Walter Sanchez, saying, hey.
00:09:36.330 --> 00:09:43.790 Costa Constantinides: I know you're looking to transition from public office. I know that you're you know you're dealing with some real serious stuff Family wise
00:09:45.670 --> 00:09:56.540 Costa Constantinides: would you consider it, and that wasn't on my radar like wasn't even something I was thinking about right, and I I thought he was call me for a completely different reason.
00:09:56.790 --> 00:10:01.290 Costa Constantinides: and the more I gave it thought the more I thought about. You know. How. How can I,
00:10:01.320 --> 00:10:10.680 Costa Constantinides: you know, help this organization? How can I, You know, still serve my community that I love so much, and the part of my whole life. It's given me so much. How can I
00:10:10.830 --> 00:10:13.180 Costa Constantinides: do that? And then I was like, Well, you know what
00:10:13.410 --> 00:10:23.620 Costa Constantinides: this is the right fit. This is the right fit for me, my fit for my family, the right fit for the neighborhood. I you know i'm gonna take this gig and run with it. So I was very lucky to
00:10:23.680 --> 00:10:26.880 Costa Constantinides: to to take on this this new role. And
00:10:26.880 --> 00:10:52.490 Tommy DiMisa: now I've been CEO, the boys and girl stuff for 2 years like like a like a blink of an eye. I want to go back. We're going to get way into the Boys and Girls Club, and I, you know just the obvious impact on the community. But I want to understand sort of this trajectory as as a council member. Did you never really saw yourself in in office, or did you Did you like? Did you think about that? Was that like a goal? Did you? Did you look up to people in the community who were, you know.
00:10:52.880 --> 00:10:58.510 Tommy DiMisa: people who are activators or activists or politicians, or or you know, somebody Just we had
00:10:59.150 --> 00:11:17.190 Tommy DiMisa: family Member Linda Rosen Fall on another program. I do. We call the professionals and animal lovers Show, and she the word she is She' not? Use the word politician, I believe she by design. She is the word elected official. So you see yourself as being a potential elected official one day talking to me about that.
00:11:17.270 --> 00:11:33.480 Costa Constantinides: I know it. You've seen that the matrix right? Yes, I have. And you know, when he like, you know, when he fights the agents and he like jumps out. He say it's morbid, and he jumps out and warby it just turns to Trinity and says he's starting to believe
00:11:33.660 --> 00:11:42.110 Costa Constantinides: right like that's what it was for me, because I never thought about being a public servant. I I was a kid who dropped out of college twice.
00:11:42.230 --> 00:11:44.860 Costa Constantinides: It was like started college at 26.
00:11:45.830 --> 00:12:03.160 Costa Constantinides: It went back to school to give it one last shot, and said I was going to be a You know I was going to be a lawyer. That was the plan. and then I started helping people, and the more I started helping people the more I decided that's what I really wanted to do. So it just was a trajectory of how can I help
00:12:03.270 --> 00:12:15.140 Costa Constantinides: and more good things? I was able to accomplish some more. I felt I could do more, and that kind of led me to think about. Okay, I'm going to run for office, and i'm not done 12,000 doors in my first race myself.
00:12:15.360 --> 00:12:31.550 Costa Constantinides: because I want it one door to door to door and say, it looks a job interview. I want you to hire me. I want you to do things i'm gonna do. And here's the things I want to hear from you that I can get fixed in that in that. Let me just look it up real quick! It's a. It's 22 right. New York City Council 20, the district 22
00:12:31.550 --> 00:12:59.780 Tommy DiMisa: yes, it is how how many constituents do you have? How many people you're not 12,000 doors, which first of all, i'm a salesman. I've knocked out a lot of doors. I don't know if I've yet knocked on 12,000 doors and all my life at sales. That's a lot of nut door knocking you. You get bloody, bloody knuckles when you're knocking on that. But tell them. Yeah, you gotta wear sneakers. I always, I used to say, like, you know, as a wise guy when i'd have a sales manager come out with me, i'd say, hey, listen, man, we're going to be running around the neighborhood. We're going to be in queens.
00:12:59.780 --> 00:13:19.520 Costa Constantinides: I needed to wear sneakers. I don't think you should wear dress shoes. We're gonna be moving a lot, you know. We were dress shoes, anyway, because we were more suits. But anyhow, so how many constituents are in that district, that you, that you were a public servant off there. There were 160,000 constituents of that, you know. We were expecting somewhere in the neighbor of 10 to 15,000 people that we're going to vote.
00:13:19.520 --> 00:13:33.050 Costa Constantinides: So we were we were. I was trying to talk to every voter that you know we knew we're gonna be, you know, and some that weren't. We were trying to talk to as many people as possible to get out the word and say, hey, look!
00:13:33.050 --> 00:13:43.070 Costa Constantinides: We want you to come out. Want to be part of this process, You know we need you. You know we? I want to be your voice, and I can be your voice. Is that for me to engage with you and have a conversation with you?
00:13:43.150 --> 00:14:01.170 Tommy DiMisa: A 100. We we are going to go to quick breakfast. That's what I'm hearing from you like you you use These were for public servant, you you said I wanted to serve the people so. Yes, you were out there looking to kind of drum up. Quote unquote business right? Get the get them to. So they knew who you were, but ultimately with your vision. If I could just be so bold to guess
00:14:01.200 --> 00:14:05.600 Tommy DiMisa: you wanted to know what they needed. So you weren't there right saying, hey, Both for me.
00:14:05.770 --> 00:14:11.550 Tommy DiMisa: You know you were. You were like, what do you like? What is important to you? Because you have. You have to understand what's important to the community. Right?
00:14:11.940 --> 00:14:14.560 Costa Constantinides: Yeah. I mean the first press conference I had
00:14:14.750 --> 00:14:26.080 Costa Constantinides: was on garbage, because what I heard at the on the street was that we needed garbage pick up. We needed the streets cleaner, and actually, then my first thing in office and I did is I brought in the DOE Fund.
00:14:26.160 --> 00:14:42.450 Costa Constantinides: an ace to clean our streets like 2 good nonprofits that hire, you know, formally incarcerated men and women who give them a job back in the workforce to sweep the streets of a story out. So that was like my first sort of like action
00:14:42.450 --> 00:14:48.150 Costa Constantinides: was, you know, because this was people told me they knew what they wanted, and it was like, you know, that was a win for the neighborhood.
00:14:48.150 --> 00:15:18.130 Tommy DiMisa: How fundamental gang! Right, how fundamental! Can you keep the garbage off our streets. Yeah, that's what we'd like you to do. Future City council member like, that's what they're that's what the people are asking for. I'm not familiar with Ace, but I certainly am familiar and aware of the dole fun. Maybe we could talk about them if we have time later on. But just you know the the collaboration that you you create as a public servant. And now, as the leader of this organization, it goes without saying that you are a public servant. Look, this show is called philanthropy and focus. We take a couple of breaks throughout this
00:15:18.130 --> 00:15:23.890 Tommy DiMisa: show. Costa Constantinetis and I've been practicing that. How am I doing the last name before we go to a break?
00:15:23.890 --> 00:15:46.030 Costa Constantinides: Are you doing awesome man? You know you know no one's you Haven't called me Costco yet, and you know I will not. I will not call you Costco. I will not do that. I I asked you when we started the show. I wanted to say. Costa, you said Costa. I have to write it out, cost you got it down. You got it down. I have to write it down. So I we will be right back. We'll jump right back into this important conversation right back, philanthropy and focus.
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00:17:56.060 --> 00:18:13.010 Tommy DiMisa: joined me in my added I don't know if you know the singer, I mean you do know the singer of that song cost up. But I don't know if you know who that's Brendan Levy from the Queen's Chamber of Commerce, who made the introduction to you, and I I don't know if you know that he's a singer in a band. Did you know that I did not know that?
00:18:13.010 --> 00:18:21.240 Tommy DiMisa: So? Just so, just last Thursday night, Brendan, and the damaged goods, as they are now called, perform that Bourbon Street in bayside Queens
00:18:21.380 --> 00:18:41.120 Tommy DiMisa: shout out to the gang of Berman Street, shout out to Tsi. And why? Because we raised a few bucks that night for Tsi and Y transitional services for New York, which I mentioned earlier. But Brendan and the team. These guys. They rock and roll, man. And years ago, 2, 3 years ago, I asked him. I said, Look, I need a theme. Someone Can you make a theme song, and he and I wrote the lyrics, but he's the singer.
00:18:41.120 --> 00:18:58.450 Tommy DiMisa: But the other night we were out together in the city. I took him to that event I mentioned earlier, and on the train ride back we were singing the lyrics to my song, as much to the disappointment of the other riders on the Long Island Railroad. But it is what it is is, so I i'm reading my notes, and you know we talked about
00:18:58.450 --> 00:19:02.380 Tommy DiMisa: the the outreach from the community. A. As you were Council members saying.
00:19:03.240 --> 00:19:19.390 Tommy DiMisa: We need to. We need to address this trash situation right and then later in your or maybe it was earlier on. You'll have to tell me. But you you became Nyc Environmental Justice Advisory Board. You became part of that board and also part of the economic development in New York City Economic Development Board
00:19:19.790 --> 00:19:24.470 Tommy DiMisa: and 44 bills were part of your your
00:19:24.470 --> 00:19:40.790 Tommy DiMisa: your background, and what you it impacted the city on climate change, and one of this was these Climate mobilization act and the renewable Rikers Act. Can we talk a little bit about that, you know? Because, Obviously, you know this background and the connection that the supporting climate
00:19:40.790 --> 00:19:50.400 Tommy DiMisa: supporting the climate change and and the effect on the city is certainly important to to constituents in the city, and and folks residents as well as people who come to work in the areas.
00:19:51.050 --> 00:19:59.130 Costa Constantinides: I mean it. It was really personal for me, you know my son got asthma very young, and I had never had asked him up.
00:19:59.170 --> 00:20:13.910 Costa Constantinides: but I watched him have to take a a pill of vitamin, a a, an allergy medication, something to settle his stomach. You just took all that stuff, and then have to put a nebulae on his face every morning before he went to school.
00:20:14.140 --> 00:20:16.410 Costa Constantinides: and you know he wasn't the only kid
00:20:16.590 --> 00:20:35.240 Costa Constantinides: I mean there. You know the the asthma rates in Western queens are above the Queensboro average. So when talking about climate change, it wasn't about just fighting big picture climate change. There was also, like all the fossil fuel in our neighborhood, all that production. Was I coming at a cost to our family's health? So we were, you know, looking to go
00:20:35.240 --> 00:20:50.430 Costa Constantinides: go greener, and you know, helping to move away from dirty fossil fuel and building a new industry, going from Asthma Alley, where we are to renewable row. And all these great renewable energy projects now coming into the neighborhood. So I was very passionate
00:20:50.440 --> 00:21:00.670 Costa Constantinides: about fighting climate change. We did, you know we worked super hard on the you know the Climate Mobilization Act, which was the largest emissions reduction policy for any city in the world.
00:21:00.670 --> 00:21:17.050 Costa Constantinides: And then we we worked on the the largest Environmental Justice Bill. The history of the country we worked on, and then we got to renewable Rikers. When Rikers closes it'll transform into a new energy hub with with solar and battery storage with
00:21:17.050 --> 00:21:28.850 Costa Constantinides: waste for a treatment plant with organics, an aerobic digestion so like that was a huge part of my work, and I was really grateful to be able to do it. So when I left the Council I couldn't quit
00:21:28.980 --> 00:21:34.150 Costa Constantinides: city work. I couldn't quit this, so I I They asked me to join the Ej Advisory Board.
00:21:34.150 --> 00:21:49.360 Costa Constantinides: They asked me to join the Board directors of the Economic Development Corps shut out to our President Donovan Richards, who asked me to do it, and you know he's a great advocate for queens, and shot out. Donovan knows his wife's birthday today. So happy birthday, Tamika. We're family.
00:21:49.360 --> 00:21:54.730 Tommy DiMisa: But you know. He asked me to be on the board, so i'm more than happy to serve the city any way I can.
00:21:54.730 --> 00:22:14.380 Tommy DiMisa: I love that. I and I think that's what it is I mean. I wrote down in the middle of my paper that i'm writing public servant, and you know that was because you said it earlier, but it's going to continue to pop up for me, because I think it takes us into variety and the work that you're doing there, but just as a kind of a frame of reference for those you may be listening to this program, and are not familiar with New York City, and are not familiar with writers. Island.
00:22:14.380 --> 00:22:26.930 Tommy DiMisa: Rikers Island is the largest jail in New York City, and as coast as sort of mentioned, there will be shutting down eventually. Right? I mean, that's that's on the docket to to close down the gel.
00:22:27.090 --> 00:22:29.940 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, by 2,027. It's supposed to be closed.
00:22:29.970 --> 00:22:50.940 Costa Constantinides: and we have a unique opportunity here to close, you know, to build all this infrastructure, and it's going to create thousands of jobs. thousands upon thousands of jobs in the borough. Queens, you know, rebuilding a a renewable energy Hub there that can be transformative and and make make it healthier. So we don't have as much fossil fuel and as much pollution in the air.
00:22:50.940 --> 00:22:59.140 Tommy DiMisa: Yeah, yeah, I know. You know I have a friend of mine, Michael Partis, who runs the Bronx Community Development initiative up in South Bronx, and he's been on the program here.
00:22:59.230 --> 00:23:13.790 Tommy DiMisa: and you know, certainly in parts of the Bronx underneath, Like if you the crossbox expressway. You have the apartments there, and things like that, and it's not good for folks man. People people are are getting sicker than people who are not in that neighborhood and not in those areas, you know. And it's just.
00:23:14.020 --> 00:23:21.960 Tommy DiMisa: You know we have to address these things because this is, you know, social determinants of health. Right? We talk a lot about that, you know, and and to your point, you know
00:23:22.110 --> 00:23:37.510 Tommy DiMisa: 35 40 years ago, growing up in a story as different than now. Right there's more or trucks is more industry, and and you know. Listen, we are not anti-business, you know. Certainly not. But we gotta find better ways to do business right? That that's the thing that's what it's about.
00:23:37.510 --> 00:23:54.480 Tommy DiMisa: So I want to talk about. Let's get into the organization a bit. You know you, Walter, reaches out to you, shout out to Walter Sanchez, Big media guy in Queens owns a bunch of papers. Does. This is Queen's borrow for the Queen's Chamber of Commerce.
00:23:54.690 --> 00:24:10.190 Tommy DiMisa: Tell me about that. He calls you up. You think it's about something else, you say? Yes, I mean, and you, and like 2 years. I for me, I want to say, went by like a blip, but I haven't been doing the job for the last 2 years. I've been doing other things for you, it might not have down by like such a blip. But what tell me about
00:24:10.360 --> 00:24:13.320 Tommy DiMisa: your day in and day out, I mean again. You're
00:24:13.440 --> 00:24:26.200 Tommy DiMisa: you know you have. If you give us a lay of the land, maybe in the story, you got the projects in the story right. You have the 3 buildings. Maybe we can kind of set the stage as to kind of establishing the need for this type of community center. And how important. It is.
00:24:26.660 --> 00:24:35.870 Costa Constantinides: Yeah. So we were opened in 1,955 by Judge Charles Valone. Peter Bloom senior is that was one of our founders.
00:24:35.890 --> 00:24:53.760 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, wow. And you know this guy, Salah Hassanine, who was an Egyptian immigrant who actually rose to be the President of United Artists International, you know, and Bueller, and a bunch of other, you know, a cubby broccoli who's executive producer of James Bond.
00:24:53.770 --> 00:25:03.600 Costa Constantinides: They all got together and said all story of people. So I saw that the kids didn't have a productive place to go, so that there was gang violence in the neighborhood.
00:25:03.600 --> 00:25:14.530 Costa Constantinides: and that they wanted to do something to combat it and give kids a safe place to go. So they they They raised $500,000 to buy the land in 1,955.
00:25:14.560 --> 00:25:15.740 Tommy DiMisa: That's a lot of money
00:25:15.920 --> 00:25:17.990 Costa Constantinides: that's like 10 million dollars. Now
00:25:18.690 --> 00:25:33.310 Costa Constantinides: that you know dollar for dollar, like, you know, for inflation. But they. So we stand on the shoulders of those giants right like they came in and like, did this work. And you're right when you say you know who we serve right our kids. We serve everyone
00:25:33.370 --> 00:25:48.230 Costa Constantinides: but our kids. West of 20 First Street you have the largest public housing development, the country in Queens bridge. You have Ravens Wood, and you have a story out houses, those 3, you know. Those 3 is developments. You know. All of our kids
00:25:48.280 --> 00:26:02.980 Costa Constantinides: need a place to go. That's safe. Need a hot meal, need help with their homework, need a place to go where they can find their passions and find their dreams and and just be kids right. Play ball and do art. And
00:26:03.010 --> 00:26:09.760 Costa Constantinides: you know, after my wife died, you know my, my 10 days after I took this job. My, my, my my wife, passed away.
00:26:10.280 --> 00:26:15.260 Costa Constantinides: Oh, my God, my condolences, man! Thank you. But my little boy, like he found
00:26:15.410 --> 00:26:33.500 Costa Constantinides: solace in the Boys and Girls Club doing art with misleads, and he says, like a sports kid like he loves like throwing a baseball like that's his. He's if he could live on a baseball diamond. That's my little ball, would be. I like he that's where he wanted to be. He wanted to be the Voice and Girls club doing our or Miss Liz, and that was.
00:26:33.500 --> 00:26:52.430 Costa Constantinides: and so many kids, whether it's a family member passing on, or someone losing their job, or you know things happening in their family life, especially after Covid. like this work became like so even more important than it was before. Because we are that lifeline of these kids.
00:26:52.580 --> 00:26:53.920 Tommy DiMisa: So it's just
00:26:55.400 --> 00:27:04.580 Tommy DiMisa: I I gotta just go in one direction real quick. You're in queens. You got this little boy. He wants to be on a baseball diamond. Please tell me
00:27:04.600 --> 00:27:06.390 Costa Constantinides: you're a mess fan, and so
00:27:06.560 --> 00:27:13.600 Tommy DiMisa: right I mean, we have to say you have to say that right now we love we love being a city field we love being there.
00:27:13.600 --> 00:27:32.310 Costa Constantinides: you know he's, he's pitching, and at the to the elm, Jack Eagles, which is not that far away from city field like over by another great nonprofit, shout out to Vitty at Elm Jack! Little League, right right between the airport and and and the entrance to Riker is a great little league there they serve like 300 kids.
00:27:32.310 --> 00:27:42.240 Tommy DiMisa: so he pitches for their travel team. 14, you
00:27:42.240 --> 00:27:55.460 Tommy DiMisa: hey? He's gonna pitch. So what do you mean? And she over the coach, talking to the Commissioner literally. He please travel ball to and it. But this is like the Town League. You know you have the Town League, and you got travel. And so he was pitching.
00:27:55.460 --> 00:28:04.520 Tommy DiMisa: and and they like them to be a picture. So you know. Actually my my business partner, LED Probes, and the you know, founding partner of our firm vanguard benefits
00:28:04.520 --> 00:28:16.750 Tommy DiMisa: was a was a picture. We're all big mets fans. But we he pitched at a New York tech out here on Long Island. We should get him to meet you. So on Monday. Maybe he, his his Son's a picture, too. So, anyway, look you know what
00:28:16.960 --> 00:28:21.450 Tommy DiMisa: having a kid get out there on the bowl field, having them get
00:28:21.450 --> 00:28:50.250 Tommy DiMisa: away from some of the other nonsense which I want to talk about in the next segment we come back, and it is, you know, that's why these leagues are so important. That's why the boys and Girls Club is so important. That's why big brothers, big sisters is so important. Right? It's a lot of things, and i'm going to get on my soapbox. I could feel it so when we come back from a commercial break i'll get on my soap box real quick, and talk about yields of the world and the challenges, and and set it up to what what the programming of an organization like yours is all about, and the importance of it. So why don't we just do that? I just keep talking about it.
00:28:50.250 --> 00:28:56.340 Tommy DiMisa: Why don't we take a quick 90 s break post on Tommy D. In the attic Oneanthropy and focus
00:28:56.450 --> 00:28:59.460 Tommy DiMisa: variety. Boys and Girls Club. We are right back.
00:29:01.180 --> 00:29:15.510 Are you passionate about the conversation around racism? Hi! I'm Reverend Dr. Tlc. Host of the Dismantle Racism show which airs every Thursday at 11 a. M. Eastern on talk radio, Dot Nyc
00:29:15.510 --> 00:29:28.060 join me and my amazing guest as we discussed ways to uncover, dismantle and eradicate racism. That's Thursdays at 110'clock a. M. On talk, radio and Nyc.
00:29:30.680 --> 00:29:58.500 In the moment world. You may have many unanswered questions regarding your health. Are you looking to live a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a desire to learn more about mental health, and enhance your quality of life. Or do you just want to participate in self-understanding and awareness? I'm Frank R. Harrison Host of Frank about health, and each Thursday I will tackle these questions and work to enlighten you. Tune in every Thursday. 5 P. M. On talk, radio and Nyc. And I will be frank about help to advocate for all of us.
00:30:03.770 --> 00:30:27.870 Hey, everybody! It's Tommy deed and non-profit sector connector coming at you from my attic each week here on top radio and Nyc I hosted program for lambda game focus nonprofits in cocktails each and every day, and it's my focus to help them amplify their message and tell their story. Listen: Each week at 10 a. M. Eastern Standard time until 11 a. M. Is from standing time right here on talk radio and Myc.
00:30:28.890 --> 00:30:39.320 You're listening to talk radio and Yc. At Www. Talk, radio and live C. Now broadcasting 24 h a day.
00:30:39.840 --> 00:30:40.850 The
00:30:45.360 --> 00:30:50.720 www.TalkRadio.nyc: nonprofits
00:30:51.130 --> 00:30:56.270 to Tommy in his
00:30:58.190 --> 00:31:11.640 Tommy DiMisa: live in the dream and live in the dream. That's people say sometimes, and I tell you this at least for 1 h a week. I'm living the dream I get to meet with another leader of a no nonprofit organization, and I've told you this before. I need to do the show more often
00:31:11.650 --> 00:31:26.020 Tommy DiMisa: selfishly, because I really feel good when I do it, and selflessly, because here's a lot of people and he talk to, and if I only do it every Friday, I gotta live for like a 1,000 years, and I mean, even though I I take good care of myself. I don't think i'm going to live that long.
00:31:26.020 --> 00:31:45.970 Tommy DiMisa: So let's let's figure out a way gang. Help me out. How can I do the show Every morning before I start my day with other things where I do another episode of the show. We'll talk about that all right. I shared the website while we were coming back from Break B. G. C. queens.org B. And Boy Jesus and George, or Ves and boy she's in Girl Season Club
00:31:45.970 --> 00:31:55.590 Tommy DiMisa: queens.org. Why, don't we do the right way, kid. So that's the website. Check that out. All right. Here's Here's the thing we know about that
00:31:57.090 --> 00:31:59.450 Tommy DiMisa: society the way it is. Sometimes
00:31:59.560 --> 00:32:06.870 Tommy DiMisa: both parents have to work, or maybe there are not 2 parents in the household, and one parent is is required to work just because
00:32:06.890 --> 00:32:11.500 Tommy DiMisa: that's what we need to do to survive in a capitalist society we need to go get that money
00:32:12.900 --> 00:32:16.380 Tommy DiMisa: that often. You know most jobs don't end at 245
00:32:16.580 --> 00:32:30.320 Tommy DiMisa: you know when when school lets out or 3 15. There needs to be some support if it's not an after school program in the community they list. I'm gonna just rattle off these things that scare the hell out of me right now, or it's not just so. One scares the hell out of me and the other concern to me.
00:32:31.120 --> 00:32:33.610 Tommy DiMisa: Fentanyl. I'm: terrified.
00:32:33.930 --> 00:32:39.290 Tommy DiMisa: Okay, Mental health. We need to talk about it. We talk about a little time in the show and substance abuse.
00:32:39.650 --> 00:32:46.800 Tommy DiMisa: A general discussion really is, is, keeps coming up for me.
00:32:47.560 --> 00:32:55.640 Tommy DiMisa: cause that this organization is there to give these young people the safety. You set a hot meal somewhere to do their homework.
00:32:55.720 --> 00:33:02.400 Tommy DiMisa: You know I've never been involved with any sort of gang or anything like that. But you know the word gang, You know
00:33:02.510 --> 00:33:18.710 Tommy DiMisa: young people might be looking for community, and if they're looking for community, they're going to go where people are supportive of them, and you know it doesn't necessarily mean the gang is something that turns into criminals, but it's people that are looking out for each other. Unfortunately, sometimes they do get in in these spots, and they do
00:33:19.250 --> 00:33:20.420 Tommy DiMisa: you know they do
00:33:20.420 --> 00:33:42.230 Tommy DiMisa: criminal activity? So we need to find ways and and and support organizations like yours that are doing the work, that from 4 to 6, 4 to 7 or 3. What? Where? They're coming somewhere where they're going to get somebody that's going to sit with them and do their homework where you can go. Take swimming lessons, and you can get involved in arts and craft that I've Having walked through the existing building.
00:33:42.320 --> 00:33:53.100 Tommy DiMisa: I got to see some of the areas where the where the young people can hang out. You know we all have launched together in that big multi-purpose room You have whatever I remember this like graffiti, not graffiti like
00:33:53.240 --> 00:34:08.110 Tommy DiMisa: criminal graffiti, but like the orals, graffiti murals on the walls, and stuff like that in the in that. It it's like a gymnasium auditorium area because I took some pictures. I got to look at my Instagram again. We were talking earlier today. Twitter is not so much my game, but i'm very
00:34:08.139 --> 00:34:23.130 Tommy DiMisa: with my adhd taking a picture of something is very easy, and I could just then put it. Hey, look at the picture. It's worth a 1,000 words, maybe some more. Alright, so let's talk about some of that stuff, because there are a lot of scary things or a lot of challenges for our young people to deal with.
00:34:23.730 --> 00:34:29.820 Tommy DiMisa: Talk to me about that. What is the day in the life of somebody who, you know They come out of school and they come to the community center.
00:34:30.480 --> 00:34:48.260 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, I mean it's, you know. They kids come to us anywhere between 2, 30 and 4. Pm: Every day. We're free program for for the most part, you know. We, you know. Give them a a hot meal right off the bat. So chef for now is in in the in our theater with our food.
00:34:48.260 --> 00:35:07.370 Costa Constantinides: There's snack, healthy snacks like apples and and oranges and things like that, You know they don't want a meal, but they can have that too. But we don't know if they're gonna have a hot meal when they get home, so we give them that hot meal every day, and then we have. We have a power hour, which is our homework help, and you know that usually runs between ages 6 to 14,
00:35:07.460 --> 00:35:09.380 Costa Constantinides: you know, elementary and middle school.
00:35:09.570 --> 00:35:25.150 Costa Constantinides: and they have the run of the building. After that they can do sports. They can do arts. They can go to the dance studio. They can go to the teaching kitchen. They can go to chorus. They can go to the STEM room. They go to Fashion Club, you know, and they can spend their afternoon.
00:35:25.150 --> 00:35:41.120 Costa Constantinides: you know, doing all of those things and being a kid and seeing what inspires them, and catching that passion, whatever it is. And you know, then about 60'clock, yeah, or some of our younger kids, You know that that Age group starts rolling out, and our teams start rolling in
00:35:41.190 --> 00:35:51.540 Costa Constantinides: right. Our teams start showing up about 50'clock, and we have snacks for them and a playstation and X box and basketball, and you know they'll be. Our building is open till 9. Pm.
00:35:51.800 --> 00:36:06.490 Tommy DiMisa: So for our teams we're there for them till 9 Pm. At 9 Pm. I found. But by the way, this is a gang. This is so. That's the picture I've talked about that wall, you know, with the yeah, it's sorry if you're not watching gang if you're if you can't watch, go to
00:36:06.490 --> 00:36:24.380 Tommy DiMisa: Tommy d dot ny on the Instagram. But you got that really cool mural in it. Was it in that community room that would talk about the theater, or is it somewhere else? I'm trying to No, it's in the theater. But we have it. You know we have some some beautiful art outside of the art in the in the in the theater is done by the kids right. This was inspired by them and done by them. Yeah.
00:36:24.380 --> 00:36:28.260 Tommy DiMisa: So thank you for that. So let let's. So. They hot meal.
00:36:28.370 --> 00:36:32.170 Tommy DiMisa: What help with homework? The younger the younger folks, the younger kids.
00:36:32.220 --> 00:36:35.400 Tommy DiMisa: you know. It can go to programming throughout STEM,
00:36:35.580 --> 00:36:44.070 Tommy DiMisa: artwork, music, chorus. And then, you know, even the the older kids have can stay till 90'clock at night, you know, because again either
00:36:44.190 --> 00:36:45.080 Tommy DiMisa: they
00:36:45.100 --> 00:36:55.650 Tommy DiMisa: they could go home. Their parents are home from work at that point. However, there's there's all this opportunity for them to collaborate and socialize right in socialize in a supportive setting. Right cost that
00:36:55.970 --> 00:37:19.410 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, I mean. And and with the teams in particular, we start mixing in some other stuff, too, right? So we have, you know, sat prep and resume building, college readiness and a financial literacy. And you know we start mixing, and all these other elements that you know. If, even though you know they may decide, i'm here because my best friend's here, i'm. You know we try to meet one where they are right, wherever, whatever the reason is, they're there.
00:37:19.410 --> 00:37:26.100 Costa Constantinides: We try to make sure that we give them, expose them to as much thing as many things as possible. They're like. Oh, you know.
00:37:26.170 --> 00:37:34.810 Costa Constantinides: I want to take the sat. What is that all about? And then they're in the sat Prep class, and and I just kind of give some that window into that future that maybe they want.
00:37:35.140 --> 00:37:38.870 Tommy DiMisa: Tell me a story if you could about, you know, and we can.
00:37:38.870 --> 00:38:05.210 Tommy DiMisa: as they say in those old shows. You know the names are left out, the for, or the names have been changed to protect the innocent or whatever you know. Remember those shows like dragnet and stuff like that. But, like you know, tell me, somebody you know, in your experience. You're there 2 years. I'm Sure you've seen some life changing stuff in your time. But having the history of the organization being in in in operation for 65 years, can you and I and I have to be very certain that a lot of folks come back.
00:38:05.210 --> 00:38:22.920 Tommy DiMisa: you know and say cause I think I even asked you this on the tour. Folks come back who whose lives were impacted by variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, and now they're doing things professionally or otherwise, and they want to bring that back to the community. So talk to me about some of the big wins and successes if you could.
00:38:23.290 --> 00:38:25.500 Costa Constantinides: So we've had, you know. I mean there
00:38:25.610 --> 00:38:34.360 Costa Constantinides: to the people I you know. There's so many stories with 2 that i'm really proud of. We have this young woman who worked for a who actually was a club kid.
00:38:34.820 --> 00:38:43.210 Costa Constantinides: She came back and worked for us, and she was putting herself through school because she really want to become an attorney. and she had a goal of becoming a judge one day.
00:38:43.570 --> 00:38:48.980 Costa Constantinides: and you know she recently left us because she started work as a power legal at a law firm.
00:38:49.190 --> 00:38:49.830 Wow!
00:38:49.850 --> 00:39:00.270 Costa Constantinides: And you know, here was a young woman who had been with our program all the way through had come and been our our, our, our our front desk.
00:39:00.290 --> 00:39:14.410 Costa Constantinides: Everyone, the building, loved her, and it was sad to see her go on the one hand, but it was also so exciting for her, because we knew that you know she will off to go, fly to do these amazing things, to become an attorney to go off one day and be a judge.
00:39:14.410 --> 00:39:26.210 Costa Constantinides: You know we have another young man who I gave him use of the year when I was a city council members a picture of us together when he's like 13 years old in the club. And he
00:39:26.250 --> 00:39:33.860 Costa Constantinides: where you went all you know, went all the way through high school and college. Put him, you know, Went to engineering school, being one of our maintenance staff.
00:39:33.900 --> 00:39:34.780 Tommy DiMisa: No kidding.
00:39:34.880 --> 00:39:38.980 Costa Constantinides: and then, you know, recently graduated and became an engineer.
00:39:39.210 --> 00:39:54.980 Costa Constantinides: So, and he still comes and hangs out on Saturdays with the kids, and you know, with with our our I love it, Director Cp. And they've become very close friends over the years. But like he's, you know he's come back now and and coming to help out and says, you know it says to the kids, hey.
00:39:55.060 --> 00:40:09.120 Costa Constantinides: you? You know you know me. I used to work here. I used to be a kid here and now i'm an engineer so like you can do it, too like that. Those are the kind of stories that really kinda inspire me as as someone who works there. It's like, you know. This is what it's all about.
00:40:09.120 --> 00:40:19.350 Tommy DiMisa: Yeah, yeah, I think I think we have to continue to see people in in these leadership. Success it doesn't have not. Everybody has to be an engineer or an attorney.
00:40:19.350 --> 00:40:34.730 Tommy DiMisa: you know. There's plenty of great city jobs that people might want, or if the jobs in the trades, we certainly need more jobs in the trades. I know where we don't have enough people in the trades. We hear this a lot, and you know I I I I on this
00:40:35.140 --> 00:40:46.340 Tommy DiMisa: kind of on this platform, saying, I don't believe everybody is necessarily has to go to college. You know it's great if you want it, and that's your if that's your scene, and I will tell you. You said it twice on this show.
00:40:46.560 --> 00:40:48.270 Tommy DiMisa: Costa, and
00:40:48.420 --> 00:40:49.310 Tommy DiMisa: I tell you
00:40:49.440 --> 00:40:53.470 Tommy DiMisa: I was on that program similar to you in the college program, you know, like I
00:40:53.620 --> 00:41:00.850 Tommy DiMisa: flew out of NASA Community College, went to brook in the city, but was tending bar at night on and living in NASA County.
00:41:00.870 --> 00:41:10.500 Tommy DiMisa: Needless to say, it was very difficult to get to a 70'clock class when I close the bar at 4 am. So so that didn't work so so so good to eventually
00:41:10.660 --> 00:41:11.390 Tommy DiMisa: All right.
00:41:11.430 --> 00:41:27.760 Tommy DiMisa: the the brook said, hey, tell me, d we'd like you to move out of the way and make room for another student who's actually going to show up for class, and they didn't exactly say it exactly how I just said it. They said you actually don't go here anymore. But I did finish up at sunny old Westbury and and got a degree in finance.
00:41:27.760 --> 00:41:47.150 Tommy DiMisa: and I will tell you, though it's I was on that longer program. But it's not necessarily for everybody, you know. But if you, if you, as an individual, want that college degree, or you're going to go into a profession that you need to go, do it. If not, there's so many other opportunities, and I think it's again. It's about seeing people in these roles and seeing and getting exposed, and getting access to
00:41:47.150 --> 00:41:52.790 Tommy DiMisa: to these opportunities and physicians I mean, i'll give a shout out because I want.
00:41:53.090 --> 00:41:55.390 Tommy DiMisa: I want to find a way to get
00:41:55.760 --> 00:42:03.790 Tommy DiMisa: our organization that I sit on the Board of the Spirit of Huntington Arts Center, connected to variety. Because I think there's some opportunities in what we do.
00:42:04.220 --> 00:42:19.820 Tommy DiMisa: One of the things that's really important. You're a community art center. And actually we're going to be doing some work with Tsi and Y, which I've talked about. We'd be doing some work with Venture House, which is a clubhouse, a mental Health club house setting in queens, and with all also space in Staten Island.
00:42:19.920 --> 00:42:25.450 Tommy DiMisa: but with with spirit of Huntington, one of the major things they have is is an artworks program
00:42:25.920 --> 00:42:28.000 Tommy DiMisa: for young people who are aging out.
00:42:28.590 --> 00:42:45.920 Tommy DiMisa: who have intellectual developmental disabilities, to have an opportunity to learn digital artwork, graphic design work, website design. They just did our rebrand for my company. Vanguard benefits, and it's there's so many different tracks that we can go down in life, and and I was listening to somebody this morning that, like
00:42:45.920 --> 00:43:02.740 Tommy DiMisa: we don't have to just do one thing. We can try so many different things. You're an attorney, right? You also were a City council member now, I mean I I have to guess whether you're in this job for the next 10 years or not, you're there's a lot of the things you're going to be able to do. There's a lot more impact. You're going to be able to make on the community. Right?
00:43:03.190 --> 00:43:09.040 Costa Constantinides: Yeah, I mean, like, I mean, I I also I at Chunk. That means college, too. I try to get back in that way, which is a lot of fun.
00:43:09.080 --> 00:43:28.740 Costa Constantinides: But you know you you try to. You know there that you talked about before to go back to that. Many a lot of our kids, some of them want to go to college, and we're we're there to support them in that endeavor, whether it's college readiness or sat prep. But we're also doing, you know, job placement and and and workforce development.
00:43:28.740 --> 00:43:45.630 Costa Constantinides: and you know, working with organizations like Equin, or who's coming to the story and bring renewable power and hydro back. That's pretty renewable power, you know, trying to see how we can get our kids trained to be. You know the solar installers and the wind power, you know, installers, and
00:43:45.630 --> 00:44:03.570 Costa Constantinides: what are the pathways, and how they get in Saturday like how they get into local 3, and you know, you know, shout out to local 3, and Michael, ye and and and Chris Erickson there, you know they like. We want to find pathways for our kids to get those good middle class jobs to support a family good benefits. And
00:44:03.570 --> 00:44:15.100 Costa Constantinides: you know those are the jobs that build our communities and and build, you know, into generational wealth. We have these good jobs, no doubt about it, and I have a lot of friends and family members who are local, 3 electricians, and and
00:44:15.100 --> 00:44:26.030 Tommy DiMisa: you know they have a great lifestyle, and then they love what they do, and they're making infrastructure and supporting infrastructure for the city and the growth of the city. Right? So that's important. The united way of Long Island has a program
00:44:26.030 --> 00:44:44.590 Tommy DiMisa: that and i'm trying to do this right here on the spot. I don't know how well it's going to work, but they have a program where they're training folks to work in those renewable fields, because there's a lot of stuff that's going to be going on here in Long Island, so we should talk about that offline. You and me, because I you know from what you're talking about. These companies come to. What were the companies that are coming in? Mention them again.
00:44:44.590 --> 00:44:46.420 Costa Constantinides: I'm sure it's Ecuador.
00:44:46.420 --> 00:45:12.240 Costa Constantinides: who made a great investment with the boys and Girls Club. They They They invested a 1.7, 5 million dollars for our new building on the build, our new media and technology, lab Tdi Hydro Quebec. They're going to be building a brand new renewable energy lab with us for 1.2 5 million, which we're very grateful for their support. Attentive energy and and renewable. Ravenswood are coming in, investing 1.5 million dollars in our teams.
00:45:12.240 --> 00:45:13.760 Costa Constantinides: So they're coming in.
00:45:13.790 --> 00:45:32.740 Costa Constantinides: not just talking about. You know. They're doing good work and bringing in renewable energy to the community, but they're also making investments in the community to train the kids who have been impacted by those power plants we talked about earlier across the street from their house, so to build renewable energy and to get those good jobs building
00:45:32.740 --> 00:45:51.710 Tommy DiMisa: these companies. Put your money where your mouth is get involved in the community, and i'd love to hear that. So we're going to take break when we come back. I think that's a great segue into what I want to talk about the future of the organization. What what do you need? How can we help right? And then also this building that you and I talked about earlier this morning for a moment or 2 before we got started.
00:45:51.710 --> 00:46:03.260 Tommy DiMisa: because it's going to be an incredible boon to the community from what you're you've shared with me already. So let's let's leave them right on the edge gang right back to here. The big story. We'll be right back.
00:46:06.460 --> 00:46:30.610 Hey, everybody! It's Tommy Dean and non-profit sector connector coming at you from my attic each week here on top radio and Ny. Z. I hosted program for the land of game focus nonprofits in cocktails each and every day, and it's my focus to help them amplify their message and tell their story. Listen: Each week at 10 a. M. Eastern standard time until 11 am. Is from standard time right here on talk radio, Dot Nyc.
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00:48:07.620 --> 00:48:23.570 Tommy DiMisa: Right, boys and girls above queens. Alright, so Costa Constantine is CEO of Ride Boys and Girls Club. We're going to finish this show off in this segment here. This is an organization currently serves 4,000 young people, however.
00:48:24.500 --> 00:48:34.700 Tommy DiMisa: and his leadership. He has helped secure millions in capital funding towards this reimagined clubhouse that will serve not 4,000 young people, but 16,000 young people.
00:48:34.720 --> 00:48:55.040 Tommy DiMisa: We're going to talk about that now. We're going to talk about this building before we do. I shared in the chat for you, and I just want to shout it out. It's united way. Long Island has a program called Power Up, which is a wind solar and renewables program. Love to okay, up with the team over there, because maybe there's something you guys can collaborate on. Yeah, let's work that out. We'll make that happen so. But the the building.
00:48:55.090 --> 00:49:07.670 Tommy DiMisa: Well, I I've seen the plans i'm super excited to just be kind of in the know a little bit on this. You're talking to me about Equin or Tdi Hydro Quebec. All these companies coming together, writing the check supporting the STEM programs.
00:49:07.930 --> 00:49:12.380 Tommy DiMisa: Give me the vision, your vision, your board's vision about what this building is all about.
00:49:12.760 --> 00:49:25.700 Costa Constantinides: you know. Really, you know, Walter and Steve Zimmerman and and other members of our board, you know, really put this vision together 10 years ago. because I really looked at the club during the day and said, You know it's empty until we start
00:49:25.730 --> 00:49:32.620 Costa Constantinides: all right until so we're after school program. So how do we? How do we build something that maybe is going to be used? 24, 7.
00:49:32.760 --> 00:49:44.860 Costa Constantinides: So if I came up this this vision that I've been so felt lucky to be able to contribute to and be able to move forward. But you're talking about the first planetarium in Queens
00:49:45.030 --> 00:49:50.830 Costa Constantinides: a thousand-seed sports arena, a regulation pool, a 200 seat.
00:49:50.840 --> 00:50:09.620 Costa Constantinides: black box theatre at the Bio Bus fat Cave shut up the grub Hub, who's supporting our teaching kitchen. We appreciate the investment there for our new building. We're gonna have renewable energy learning labs. All the building is going to be renewable. A 100
00:50:09.620 --> 00:50:20.380 Costa Constantinides: fossil fuel free, You know it' be renewable energy the whole way. You know this building. We hopefully. It's gonna be transformative, and it's no sort of like You talk about 16,000 kids.
00:50:20.420 --> 00:50:36.410 Costa Constantinides: because, like their 8,000 kids, build a poverty line in our catchment area. and you know we're not able to serve everyone right now at 4,000 we at our limit. We we are in this building's been there since 1,955. Our boiler has been there since 1,955.
00:50:36.540 --> 00:50:53.430 Costa Constantinides: It cost us like 300 K. A year just to like, maintain our current building. That's not a sustainable model. So we gotta we gotta grow. We gotta to serve more kids. We gotta be there for them. So this new building allows for 16,000 kids, and our goal
00:50:53.430 --> 00:50:58.410 Costa Constantinides: with all of our sites. All that we do is to serve 30,000 kids by 2,030.
00:50:58.480 --> 00:51:15.250 Costa Constantinides: That's that's the mission. Well, so the planetarium, the Black Box theater, the 1,000 seat arena right. But there's also what what's above the building as we go up into sort of air. Rights. What's up there? So we're going to have 229 units of fully affordable housing
00:51:15.630 --> 00:51:23.410 Costa Constantinides: 80 am. I are below those that are like zoning folks in New York City. That means like 2 bedrooms, for like 100 bucks.
00:51:24.400 --> 00:51:46.530 Tommy DiMisa: So that that's that is a whole lot of those going around these days. And the thing is, though there's such a need for for this type of this housing, you know. I I mean not to get on the kind of the soapbox again. But there's one of these things where we need to make housing more affordable for people. It just doesn't make sense, and I I hail from that so county. So it's even more challenging out here, I think, for folks.
00:51:46.530 --> 00:51:48.700 Tommy DiMisa: So 229 units
00:51:49.420 --> 00:51:54.340 Tommy DiMisa: all affordable housing, or we like what? And there's this piece about
00:51:54.800 --> 00:52:13.420 Costa Constantinides: about the young people who are aging out of foster care talking to me about that because we haven't talked about that on that talking about it earlier. So 229 to 229 total but of that 60 of them are set aside as a supportive units for young people aging out of foster care, who are one of the most vulnerable populations to homelessness. In the city of New York.
00:52:13.420 --> 00:52:29.800 Costa Constantinides: We're gonna have. Icl, our nonprofit partner, who's gonna come in and provide them wrap around services. So mental health, financial literacy, you know, college access job training workforce development, you know. Well being and just really be there for them
00:52:29.800 --> 00:52:41.840 Costa Constantinides: to help them get to that next step. It'll be their first apartment out of foster care. You know they'll have. They'll have the same opportunity every other kid does to succeed. And I, you know, get there, you know, Go after their dreams.
00:52:42.060 --> 00:52:50.530 Tommy DiMisa: Yeah, I I You know I know that population has some challenges. I mean at at 18 years old they they're now out of for the care of my right. Is it 18?
00:52:50.700 --> 00:53:06.090 Tommy DiMisa: So I I joked with you earlier today. You know, for better or for us. I didn't move out of my Parents' house the last 2830 for me. Listen where your mom still does the laundry and stuff like that? It's No, r at least in my world. It wasn't.
00:53:06.330 --> 00:53:22.360 Costa Constantinides: you know you live in an Italian Greek, you know you're not supposed to leave it. So you get married. That's just the way it is. You don't quite on your own. That's not that's a foreign concept, and that's when I left. When I got married we we I moved out of NASA county, and we bought an apartment in Gleno explains so in Glen O's village. So right?
00:53:22.470 --> 00:53:37.150 Tommy DiMisa: So I i'll tell you it. It's 18 years old, and and having, you know, gone through foster care, you know, for all the blessings of family. Sometimes it's very difficult for young people who are who are through the system like that.
00:53:37.160 --> 00:53:57.180 Tommy DiMisa: Yeah, that you say wrap around services because it's one thing to give somebody housing, but we need to support them so they can grow, and and whether it be vocational or mental health, as you say, or financial support, like financial education, you know, and it's not so different than the folks You're serving already like, Where are you going to go next? What do you want to do next? How can we support you? How can we give you that leg up right?
00:53:57.670 --> 00:54:16.390 Costa Constantinides: Exactly. I mean that yeah, all every one of these kids, you know, deserve the opportunity to seek out whatever future they want, Whatever that dream looks like right, whether it's, you know whether it's a lawyer or a doctor, an engineer, or, you know, working as a plumber or electrician. All these jobs are important jobs. All these jobs are features
00:54:16.390 --> 00:54:18.690 Costa Constantinides: that every child should have the opportunity
00:54:18.720 --> 00:54:36.330 Costa Constantinides: to to succeed at and to get to, so we want them to give them that pathway. They can chase whatever dream it is, wherever that looks like. We want to be there for them. So that's our mission, and we're really excited about the popular possibility of, you know, going into construction, you know.
00:54:36.330 --> 00:54:45.870 Costa Constantinides: late this year early next, and to hopefully have this building open by 2,026, and made a rock and roll and serve the community. What is it? A couple of years to build this building or what
00:54:45.960 --> 00:55:09.450 Costa Constantinides: it by 2, 2 and a half. You know it's New York City construction, so I say 2 and a half with both fingers crossed. There might be some change orders as you're going through a big project like this one I want. We got 2 min off minute and a half. I want you to just tell me real quick, anything you need any connections in the city. Maybe we could make for you, and you know you're pretty wired in yourself but anybody or anything, we might be able to help with
00:55:09.690 --> 00:55:19.280 Costa Constantinides: anything that anyone's able to bring to the table. You know we we appreciate about it. I mean we had a a great the motion picture flop earlier this year. you know.
00:55:19.340 --> 00:55:22.810 Costa Constantinides: They donated, you know, costumes
00:55:22.900 --> 00:55:41.750 Costa Constantinides: to, you know, a ballerina costumes. So we had our Fashion Club carved them up and made beautiful, you know, sale creations of their own, whatever it is, it's big or small, millions of dollars or time, and you know, or you know, whatever you can do, that's what we need. Now we're taking interest in our young kids.
00:55:41.750 --> 00:55:59.550 Tommy DiMisa: It goes a long way. You may have the next Bureau Wang or Tommy. He'll figure in your mates right there in the story of who knows right. We never know it's about accessibility and opportunity. Give these kids options, give them access, and then they will do great things and be great parts of our future. I appreciate it. I appreciate you, Costa.
00:56:00.250 --> 00:56:19.510 Tommy DiMisa: I appreciate you coming on the show. I appreciate all the work you're doing, and really being, as we said, a couple of times throughout the show the public servant, you know, servant leadership. I love that term servant leadership, you know what leading from the front, but taking care of everybody and reaching back and bringing people forward. Anything else you want to say, sir, before we head out.
00:56:19.510 --> 00:56:34.170 Costa Constantinides: Tommy. Thank you. Sorry this I had a real blast, and this is a lot of fun. Thank you for having me on. Really, Thank you for that. You're doing it to do this and connect us.
00:56:34.170 --> 00:56:52.780 Tommy DiMisa: Do me a favor. Make it a great day. Make it a great weekend get involved in your community. You don't have to go out and do 60 days a non-profit service. That's what some people want to do like this guy. But you might want to go out and do a day, a quarter day, a month, a day a week. Maybe that's 52 days if you do a day, we anyway, i'm like a math magician. Here, make it a great day. Get involved.
00:56:52.780 --> 00:56:56.520 Tommy DiMisa: Be the change you want to see in the world. Take care! Have a great one.