Bay Ridge is home to a plethora of different peoples from around the world. Perhaps that’s why the arrival last year of an Egyptian community center went largely unnoticed.
According to the Home Reporter, the Egyptian American Community Foundation, which in the past had focused their efforts on fundraising, decided to open an office on 73rd Street in order to provide services to the neighborhood’s large Egypian-American population. Services include English language classes, after school programs, as well as free legal and health care assistance. You don’t have to be a member of Bay Ridge’s Arab community either – the foundation’s doors are open to all who need help and they will reportedly not turn anyone away.
Similarly, a Moroccan non-profit community group also opened last year in Bay Ridge.
From Home Reporter:
The Egyptian community has been long established in Bay Ridge, much like the Moroccans, who also established their own non-profit, the Moroccan American House Association, this summer. These emerging groups make the neighborhood a more colorful place to live, while bringing their own ideas to the table.
The foundation hosts monthly events at its 73rd Street office that serves as an open forum for residents to do just that – discuss ideas and issues in the community – with a guest speaker. On December 23, the speaker was Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
“The councilman will discuss his role in the community and how we are working hand-in-hand for the neighborhood,” explained Asmi Fathelbab, who works at the foundation.
“One of the things I do as a councilman is experience the diversity of the community,” Gentile said.
He noted that Bay Ridge has a very different demographic than it did 20 years ago. “It’s a very interesting opportunity to learn about those who live in my district, but come from all over. We want to service you – we are all in this together,” Gentile said.
Gentile stressed that group’s such as these help him to identify specific concerns in the neighborhood.
The recent legislation concerning hookah bars is one example. While the current law limits the bars to those over 18, many approached Gentile during the event concerned that young bar goers are smoking pure tobacco rather than the traditional shisha, which is a mix of tobacco, molasses and vegetable glycerine.
The Councilman responded that he is currently trying to pass a bill that would require hookah bars to label the ingredients of all tobacco mixes.