COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: In September 2010, community activist John Cori started the group “Friends of Rockaway.” The volunteer-based organization focuses on protecting the Rockaway community, preserving and replenishing the “wonderful beach-going experience” for everyone. Cori works constantly with partner Eddie Pastore to get funds for preserving the area.
Cori is also a member of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, and is running for president. He wants to revitalize the group, and get it even more involved in the community. Outside of the Rockaways, Cori has been active with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York for roughly 26 years. To this day he keeps in touch with his “little brother;” the two are among the longest matches that the group has ever had.
BACKGROUND: Cori grew up in Rockaway Beach, loving the sun and sand as most Rockaway residents do. He enjoyed paddle boarding, surfing, body surfing and other water activities, as well as skateboarding. “I still skateboard,” laughed Cori. “I’m a big kid.” He also enjoys spending time with his two children, Christopher, 21 and Victoria, 18.
FAVORITE MEMORY: “Oh that’s easy, the most recent rally we had,” said Cori. The Friends of Rockaway frequently holds rallies, takes out ads and hits the pavement to talk to residents about what the peninsula needs, especially after Sandy. He believes the Rockaways need more rock jetties to protect the beach and the area behind it, and the most recent rally, “We’re Ready for our Jetties,” spread knowledge about just how that would be accomplished.
INSPIRATION: Cori’s inspiration for his tireless activism lies within “the love of the beach and protection for my neighborhood,” he said. “The beach, to me, is the greatest thing in the world.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Many of the committees, such as the Parks Committee and the local Community Board, don’t meet as often as Cori feels they should. “There’s a lack of support from the Community Board,” he said. “[They’re] the first vehicle by which we should have been able to get this issue any attention.”
He fears that if all committees are not working together, the community becomes a “reactionary body” instead of a “proactive body.” But in the meantime, Cori will continue his own work to get the Rockaways the recognition that he believes it deserves.