We’ll admit it. There’s often a lot of gloom and doom on Sheepshead Bites. And if you regularly follow the site, you’re aware there have been quite a few horrible crimes, multimillion dollar scams, and political scandals committed this year by some of our neighbors — not to mention some controversial developments and quality of life problems. But we also try to highlight those people who have celebrated wonderful achievements or worked hard to make their community better. And while we didn’t profile everyone who helped make Sheepshead Bay a sweet place to live, here are a few of your neighbors who did something exceptional this year.
It takes a special kind of person to dedicate themselves to teaching and mentoring children. And Edward R. Murrow High School’s AP macroeconomics teacher Matthew Gherman is a standout among an already exceptional crowd. This year, he was awarded the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Teaching Champion Award for his creative approach to kindling an interest in global finance among his students. He also works with other teachers at Murrow to introduce financial literacy to students with special needs.
To cope with his father’s murder more than four years ago, local handyman Albert Dashevsky began offering his services to neighbors free of charge. He also pledged $1,000 at the beginning of the school year to help single mothers purchase back-to-school supplies. Supporters from the community jumped on board to support the effort and doubled the amount of money provided to moms in need with their contributions.
Local cop Qiang Shi sprang into action when a 19-year-old man collapsed from a heart attack at the Sheepshead Bay subway station. Shi performed CPR on the platform while waiting for EMS to arrive and his effort likely saved the man’s life. The family later thanked Shi with a letter and gifts and he was awarded a commendation from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
The owner of Perry’s Restaurant celebrated 25 years in the neighborhood this summer. The local hangout has attracted a loyal customer base. And Perry knows almost all of them by name.
Sheepshead Bay’s budding writer/director debuted his new film, “How I Became That Jewish Guy,” this fall at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. Cade drew inspiration from his family and childhood to make this comedic movie about growing up in a secular Jewish family in Brooklyn.
This Edward R. Murrow freshman, who lives in Gravesend, got a spot on the Food Network’s competitive cooking show for kids: Chopped Junior. Zilberman told us she started cooking at the age of seven and has been drawn to the kitchen ever since. She first appeared on television for last year’s season of Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off. Zilberman said her role model is Rachel Ray and hopes to one day host her own cooking show.
Following a devastating earthquake in Nepal this year, local yoga instructor Alexander Litvak volunteered to donate every penny of revenue from his classes to the earthquake victims. Litvak said he visited Nepal a year before the earthquake struck and recognized many of the places he visited in the pictures that appeared on the news. When we spoke to him in July, he was already ahead of schedule to meet his goal of raising $2,000 by the end of the summer.
After her son was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a rare condition that contributes to slow growth, learning disabilities, language delays and sometimes hearing loss, Dena Borgia decided to run in the New York City Half Marathon to raise money for a foundation that supports people with CdLS. To her surprise, she was able to raise $19,000 after the community rallied around her story. She later ran the New York City Marathon and was able to bring in $5,425 for the foundation.
This year, Brooklyn College professor and Marine Park resident Paul Moses published his second book: An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians. The story, inspired by his own Italian heritage and his wife’s Irish roots, delves into the fierce rivalry between these two immigrant groups. Moses was a longtime editor at Newsday, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and my former college professor. His work has inspired many of his students, myself included, and surely countless others.
Local fitness trainer Dmitry Michin fled Ukraine with his family at the age of three to escape the Soviet Union. When armed conflict erupted in his country between Russian-speaking separatists — supported by Moscow — and the central government in Kiev, Mitchin was inspired to get involved. He started a toy drive at his gym to benefit Ukrainian children who lost their parents in the fighting.