Bay Ridge kicks up its heels

Changing of the guard: Departing Bay Ridge Community Council President Alex Conti and incoming President Renee Dorsa celebrate at the group’s annual dinner-dance at El Caribe in Mill Basin.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Bay Ridge luminaries ate fine meals and kicked up their heels — and singled out two very special neighborhood boosters — on June 7 at the Bay Ridge Community Council 61st Anniversary Dinner-Dance.

The group danced and dined — and presented the Reverend Khader El-Yateem and William Guarinello with Civic Awards — at El Caribe Country Club on Strickland Avenue between E. 59th Place and Mayfair Drive South in Mill Basin. The 61-year-old civic group recognized Reverend El-Yateem — a Community Board 10 member and pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church — for working toward tolerance in an increasingly diverse Bay Ridge through his involvement with the Unity Task Force, a coalition of Bay Ridge leaders of all faiths formed in October 2000, and which became extremely important following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The group acknowledged Guarinello — a Bensonhurst native and chairman of Community Board 11 — for his contributions to the area through Heartshare Human Services, a charity founded in 1914 that Guarinello has worked for since 1970, and for which he was named president and chief executive officer in 1993. Heartshare offers numerous forms of assistance, many of them thanks to Guarinello, including foster care and adoption services, programs for the developmentally disabled, services for children with autism, youth programs, and medical services for those afflicted with HIV and AIDS.

Both men thanked their wives and co-workers, as well as the Community Council.

“I feel a phenomenal gratitude toward the community for recognizing what we are trying to do,” said the Reverend El-Yateem. “It’s a great community to live and to work in.”

Guarinello said he felt extremely proud of the award.

“This organization does this to acknowledge what you’ve done for the community, and that’s the highest honor you can have,” he said.

The evening also represented the official passing of the torch at the Community Council from three-year president Alexander Conti to incoming president Renee Dorsa.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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