Fundraiser for Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance

Joe Thompson speaks at last year's Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance fundraiser where he was honored by the group.
File Photo

An east Bronx watchdog group is looking to recharge its kitty. And they want to break bread with you to do it.

The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance has penciled June 13 for its annual fundraiser at Maestro’s, where $65 brings you a four-course dinner, open bar and tributes.

“You’re money is going to the right place,” said Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of VNNA, established in 2010.

Funds will go towards VNNA’s overhead for any meeting or community events the group sponsors. Last week the group held “It’s My Park Day” to cover the costs of cleaning supplies.

A portion of the event will honor several locals in the area for putting community on the top of their agenda. They include Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, east Bronx historian Richard Vittacco, members of the Van Nest Firehouse/Engine 90 and Vatican Goods Store.

Headed by Pirtam Shradhanand, VNNA covers from 180th Street to Bronxdale Avenue in the north, functioning as sentinel group.

Members hold monthly meetings to pinpoint quality of life issues within the working class neighborhood characterized by its single family homes, landmark 180th Street subway station and streets named after U.S. presidents.

At one point Van Nest had an active civic group, the Van Nest Community Alliance, but it soon waned in the early 2000s, bringing Ferrara and Shradhanand to band together.

“We had to pick up the reins and do something,” said Ferrara.

Drugs and guns are often major crimes staining the neighborhood, compelling the group to voice concerns to Community Board 11 and 49th Precinct Community Council, where police tend to canvass the area more frequently.

But VNNA has also placed a heavy emphasis on recruiting a core group of members to serve as a loud voice for locals.

“Even if we have a meeting and one new person comes that’s a good thing because that one person knows another neighbor,” said Ferrara, adding the executive group launches an advertising blitz letting the neighborhood know of its monthly meeting.

But Van Nest’s often perceived as the stepchild to Morris park, though Ferrara hopes the group will help brreak the mold, comparing the neighborhood to Cinderella.

“Hopefully Van Nest will get to the ball,” said Ferrara.

The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance fundraiser is Thursday, June 13th at 6:30pm at Maestro’s, 1703 Bronxdale Avenue.

Reach David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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