Oct. 28, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
An Astoria resident and Sunnyside community leader has received a national award – and a $50,000 grant – for her work in helping needy residents through the COVID-19 shutdown.
Jaime-Faye Bean, who is the director of Sunnyside Shines and co-founder of Queens Together, was named a recipient of the National Loves Takes Action Award, which is given to volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help their struggling neighbors during the pandemic.
Bean is one of 35 volunteers from across the country to receive the award that comes with a $50,000 grant. The grant is then allocated to a non-profit organization of their choosing.
Bean donated her grant to the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ), a non-profit that puts on a wide range of programming for children at its community center on 21st Street in Astoria. She presented the group with the $50,000 check Friday.
The award is organized by the New York Life Foundation, a national charity that has offices in Rego Park, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The charity said that it chose Bean because of her role in spearheading food relief efforts in the neighborhood as well as strengthening small businesses during the pandemic.
Bean co-founded the non-profit Queens Together which teamed up with local restaurants to feed frontline healthcare workers as well as other emergency responders. The concept helped provide much-needed revenue for restaurants while aiding frontline workers.
Around the same time, Bean joined forces with VBGCQ and other volunteers to deliver prepared meals to residents at the Astoria Houses NYCHA complex.
Bean and the VBGCQ then expanded their partnership in May and began operating a food pantry out of VBGCQ’s premises.
Bean said that the partnership blossomed from there and the food pantry has been providing fresh produce and pantry staples to around 500 local families every week.
“The VBGCQ were willing to seize the opportunity to help the neighborhood in a way no other institution was doing at the time,” Bean said.
“They erased the red tape and the barriers to getting things done.” “Because of that, I can think of few organizations as close to my heart and as deserving of this grant,” she said.
Bean was nominated for the award by Veronique Verscheure and Yuka Yamashita who work for New York Life and are involved in helping small businesses in western Queens.
Andy Rodriguez, Executive Director of VBGCQ, said that the grant will have a significant impact on children attending its center.
“We are grateful for the New York Life Foundation’s investment in our organization and for Veronique Verscheure and Yuka Yamashita for recognizing Jaime-Faye Bean for her work in the community during COVID-19,” Rodriguez said in a statement Tuesday.
“[It] will change many lives for the better.”