Brooklyn Politicians Hold Dance-Off to Raise Funds for Community Center

By Tanay Warerkar on February 5, 2014 6:47pm 

 Rendering of the proposed 19,600 square foot community center which will include classrooms, a gym, and a multi-purpose theater space.
Rendering of the proposed 19,600 square foot community center which will include classrooms, a gym, and a multi-purpose theater space.
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School Settlement Association

WILLIAMSBURG — Brooklyn politicians are hitting the dance floor — to raise money for a new community center. 

The politicians — including Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and City Councilmen Antonio Reynoso and Carlos Menchaca — will face off in a "Dancing with the Stars"-style competition on Saturday.

Called "Ready, Sett, Dance," the event will raise money for a new community center to be built by the School Settlement Association in conjunction with the St. Nick’s Alliance, both of which provide after-school programs for North Brooklyn kids.

“A lot of children in the neighborhood don’t have recreational spaces,” Greg Hanlon, a spokesperson for the School Settlement Association, told DNAinfo New York. “It’s a fun way to bring everyone together, and it is not just a fundraiser, but a way to build awareness about the new community center.”

The competition — which will be held at Giando on the Water, a restaurant that overlooks the East River — was first reported by the Greenpoint Gazette.

The event is part of a $6.23 million fundraising drive to create a new space for the School Settlement Association, which has been working out of same building on Jackson Street between Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street since 1901.

The new 19,600-square-foot facility will provide classrooms, a gym and a multipurpose theater room. The facilities will allow the organization to serve 1,000 seniors each year in addition to the school children it serves.

The association has already raised $4 million, which includes $2 million contributions each from Reyna and former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Each of the dancing duos Saturday night will get three minutes to perform, and the winner will be chosen by a group of four judges, all residents of the neighborhood. In addition to the local politicians, the dance teams include community organizers and members of the School Settlement Association. Some of the pairs, like Reynoso and Reyna, have already figured out a routine — they're planning a number influenced by their Dominican heritage.

“For nearly 100 years, the School Settlement Association has served multiple generations of immigrant families in North Brooklyn,” Reyna said. “The proceeds from the evening will benefit a 21st-century community center welcoming a new wave of Brooklynites."

“School Settlement Association provides the kind of community-based services that we must work to sustain,” added Reynoso. “A new community center will match the quality of work that they have been providing for the past 100 years.”

There is currently no proposed construction start date for the center, as the group is still working on raising the necessary money. Hanlon said the future site of construction isn't known, but the association hopes it will be close to the current center.

Tickets for the event cost $100.

Ready, Sett, Dance will be held at Giando’s on the Water, 412 Kent Ave., Feb 8,  from 7 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit this website.

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