Councilman James Gennaro helped A&E Real Estate launch its new campaign to support reading and literacy across New York City with a community carnival and free book distribution at The Opal, A&E’s flagship property in Kew Gardens Hills.
The kickoff event for A&E Reads took place June 12, starting with families at the 15,000 apartments the company manages and it included free kosher food, book and backpack giveaways, costumed characters and family crafts.
“At A&E, we’ve always believed in investing in our neighborhoods,” A&E Real Estate Executive Chairman Douglas Eisenberg said. “We started A&E Reads to invest in the next generation. We’re building a culture of reading in all our buildings and giving parents the tools they need to get their kids off to a solid start.”
The new initiative included the distribution of 10,000 books for all ages this year as part of a new partnership with Reading is Fundamental to connect families with free online literacy tools and A&E is installing lending and exchange libraries in its building where residents and community members can contribute books they have read, and pick up new ones donated by their neighbors, all for free.
“A&E is a great community partner which truly cares about its residents,” Gennaro said. “A&E makes a difference on a host of community needs, such as food insecurity, and now it is fostering literacy and the joy of books, all in a fun and happy family event which my constituents enjoyed and appreciated.”
When he was in charge of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett helped launch NYC Ferry, and between 2017 and 2019 thousands of second-graders from across the city competed to name each vessel. Now Patchett is in the private sector where he is serving as A&E Real Estate’s CEO and he is still motivating children.
“We made sure to have dozens of choices so kids could find something right for their level and their interests,” Patchett said. “And with the lending libraries we set up, families will be able to share their books with each other. We think it’ll be a virtuous cycle.”
While the weather did not cooperate forcing A&E to hold its kickoff event indoors, Patchett stayed positive.
“Even though we had to move indoors because of the rain, the event was a smashing success,” he said. “We could not have asked for more engagement from our residents or more smiles from the kids.”