We’ve made it through half the year and are heading into what we hope will be a wonderful summer. Here are the happy highlights from this past spring.

Joe DiGangi, owner of Mario’s Meat Market and Gourmet Deli, created a fundraiser to help the family of Police Officer Jonathan Diller, who was killed in the line of duty in March. Fifty percent of the sale of 2,217 of the deli’s $16 “NYPD” sandwich, combined with ~$4K from other donors who heard about the effort, raised $15,000 for the family. Stephanie Diller, Jonathan’s wife, stopped by to thank Joe personally.

A warm welcome back to Lily D’Onofrio, Our Lady of Hope’s Crossing Guard, who had been hit last September by a drunk driver while she was on duty outside the school. She spent a few weeks in rehab, then continued her recovery at home, but everyone was delighted to see her back at her post outside the school bright and early on Monday, June 10th. She is pictured below with City Council Member Robert Holden who stopped by to welcome her back.

On Saturday, April 6, approximately 60 kids of ARB Soccer Academy and their families pitched in to help clean up Juniper Valley Park near the track and soccer field. Though it was the first game day for all of ARB’s teams, Coaches Waldemar and Brandon organized a schedule that allowed for team members to volunteer before each of their scheduled games. Coach Ben Prenga, who started ARB Soccer Academy in 2023, which is part of Metrokids YSL (Youth Soccer League) thought this would be a great experience for the children to give back to their community, and together the coaches made it feasible for their players and families to help contribute to the cleanup. The league holds daily practices during the week at Juniper Valley Park and plays at Victory Field on Saturdays. Check them out at arbscacademy.com

Juniper Valley Park volunteer Ursula Rosenhammer welcomed her third great-grandchild in March. Henry Paul joins big sister Evie, mom Kelly, and dad Will.

Helen Sokol has been a member of the Maspeth AARP chapter since 2008. Her 102nd birthday was celebrated by the post on April 22nd and the magic number was achieved on May 20th. Happy birthday!

On April 12th, Council Member Robert Holden led the community in honoring EMT Hilda Vannata’s life by dedicating 77th Place & Juniper Valley Road in her name. Hilda’s journey from Puerto Rico to NYC is the American dream. Her bravery, especially during her battle with 9/11-related cancer, highlights the sacrifices made by first responders. This is an everlasting tribute to a wonderful soul who is missed.

Christina Wilkinson was honored at the Lieutenants Benevolent Association’s Leaders of the Finest Awards Ceremony at Villa Barone in the Bronx on March 20th for her work in making sure that fallen officers are forever remembered.