Local pols set up meet-and-greet for new parents

Paula Katinas

October 17, 2019

Originally published in Brooklyn Reporter on October 17, 2019.

BAY RIDGE – Politicians love to kiss babies on the campaign trail but two local lawmakers are taking that old adage seriously!

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Councilmember Justin Brannan are sure to be surrounded by lots of adorable tiny tykes on Saturday when they host a get-together for new parents in Bay Ridge.

The event, which the two pols are calling a New Parent Social, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 369 93rd St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Children are welcome, too.

The idea behind the session is to give anxious new parents the opportunity to meet each other, exchange tips and learn about local, city and state resources available for families, according to Gounardes and Brannan.

Neither lawmaker has children, but both said they have devoted much of their public lives to working to make life better for families and children in their districts.

“It’s so important that new parents have ways to connect to one another and the local, city and state resources available to them. I’m proud to offer a new event to bring parents together for support, information, and of course, fun,” said Gounardes, a Democrat whose district includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and several other neighborhoods across southwest Brooklyn.

Being a new parent can be exciting and stressful at the same time, Gounardes said. “This is a transformative time in a person’s life and we want residents to know that my office is here to help,” he told the Home Reporter.

Bay Ridge is a great place to raise children, according to many parents, who cite the community’s outstanding schools, as well as amenities like the waterfront, parks and shopping areas, as reasons to live here.

And those opinions are backed up by data.

In 2013, the Citizens Committee for Children released a study which concluded that Bay Ridge was the best neighborhood in Brooklyn to raise children. The community ranked fourth citywide. The Citizens Committee looked at such factors as economics, health, housing, employment rates, birth rates and the numbers of young people involved in the criminal justice system.

The eye-opening study has often been cited by proud Bay Ridge residents, civic leaders and elected officials when they boast about their community.

“Our area was voted the best place in Brooklyn to raise a family and it’s really no secret why. We’ve got it all!” Brannan said.

Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, said the New Parent Social will perform a valuable service.

“Bringing together new parents so they can hang, get to know each other and bond is important. Most new parents need a bit of extra support from family and friends, especially at the beginning. This is also our way of making sure new families know of all the resources that are available to them locally. Building that sense of community is very important, especially if you are new to our area and building a family here. It’s also great to bond in real life and not just on social media,” he said.

Bay Ridge mom Joy Alascio praised the idea.

“It would be great to get together and discuss what resources are available to us and what we are missing,” said Alascio, the mother of three children under the age of five.

Alascio can’t make it on Saturday, but said she would like to attend any future socials, even though she’s not a new parent. “I think it’s always a good idea for parents to get together and talk. Facebook brings people together, but it’s always nice to meet in person,” she told the Home Reporter.

For more information on the New Parent Social, call Gounardes’ office at 718-238-6044 or Brannan’s office at 718-748-5200.