|Merengue singer Hector Acosta (aka El Torito/The Little Bull) was the event's sponsor (Photo: J. Fergusson)|
Last night, at the Monte Carlo Room, a nightclub in the shadow of the Kingsbridge Armory, a small non-profit called Hands On New York gave away more than 100 frozen turkeys.
"Now I have a low income, so this is very helpful," said Flavio Goday, one of the recipients, who lives in Fordham with his wife and children. Goday said he's a jeweler by trade, but that the economy and the rising price of gold means sales are down, and he was forced out of work.
Hands On New York gave another 40 turkeys to local churches. The organization was founded by Haile Rivera, a University Heights resident who worked on the Obama campaign. (Earlier this year, Rivera was hired by State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., but found his services no longer needed when Espada's unsuccessful primary campaign was over. As election season approached, Espada had doubled the number of staff on his Senate payroll, raising a few eyebrows in the process. Many staffers, Rivera included, also worked on the campaign, but did so, they insisted, as volunteers and not on the state's dime. For Rivera, Hands On New York is something he does on the side. Since being laid off by Espada, he's landed a job at Groundwork, a non-profit that runs youth programs in Brooklyn.)
Rivera and Hands On New York have been donating turkeys at Thanksgiving for several years now. "It was an idea of my mom's, something she did, and I took it from there," Rivera said.
This year, the event's sponsor was Hector Acosta, a well-known merengue singer from the Dominican Republic, and friend of Rivera's, who's currently on tour in the US. He donated $2,600 of his own money.
"I feel good doing it," said the friendly Acosta, who had a hug for just about everyone. "I didn't have these opportunities growing up, and I'm now in a position to do it myself."