Giant clouds of steam wafted off the Hibachi grills at Shiro of Japan as chefs sliced, diced, grilled and skewered a variety of succulent meats and fish for the crowd at a fundraiser on Tuesday to benefit the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.
It was a regular who’s who of the community, with business owners, members of the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol, former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, former state Sen. Serphin Maltese, and even former NY Yankee, Allen Watson, all turning out to show their support for the beloved organization.
“They know our reputation. They know we serve 1,500 kids a day at the present time,” said GRYC president Bob Monahan, as he looked around at the crowd of nearly 400 people. “This is a pretty cool event and a great restaurant.”
But it wasn’t just a fabulous dinner for a good cause. It was also a chance to win great prizes. Several businesses from The Shops at Atlas Park, which sponsored the event and in which Shiro is located, had generously donated items to be raffled and auctioned off.
“I think its good to support activities for young kids, especially for those who don’t have the resources to do other things to keep out of trouble,” said, Gianni Di Gangi, the president of Car Italy and Tours, who donated two tickets to Italy. “I never participated in community events before, but this was important to me.”
The GRYC is being forced to leave its home on Myrtle Avenue after its rent more than doubled to $10,000 a month. While Maltese was able to secure $1 million when he was senator for the council to purchase a new site — the former Garrity Post on Fairview Avenue — it still needs another $2.2 million for renovations. Monahan hopes the bulk of that will come from the government, but the group must first raise 10 percent of total costs.
Thanks to the money raised at Tuesday’s dinner, the GRYC is getting closer to its goal.
“Over the years the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council has been one of the most effective youth groups, not just in Queens County, but in the whole city,” Maltese said. “They literally serve thousands of kids, not only from middle class neighborhoods, but from poorer neighborhoods as well.”