Volunteer and health care agency partner for Turkey Giveaway

(l-r) Mary Zagajeski, president and CEO of the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, Dena Roth, Joel Fishman’s daughter, Mark Fishman, Joel’s son, gather with Joel’s grandsons, Matthew and Alex Roth.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

An annual partnership is feeding thousands in Mott Haven during the Thanksgiving weekend.

On Monday, November 23, real estate businessman Joel Fishman, in collaboration with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, hosted their 32nd annual Turkey Giveaway to distribute the plump birds to needy local residents.

The Turkey Giveaway, which was held in front of the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service facility on 279 Alexander Avenue, distributed over 2,000 turkeys to Mott Haven’s neediest residents, some of whom had been waiting on line since 5 a.m. that morning.

The line started on 139th Street and Alexander Avenue and snaked its way around the block on 140th Street toward Willis Avenue Playground.

Fishman, who was born in Brooklyn, spent the first 14 years of his life at Kings County Hospital due to a condition called Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome which greatly affected one of his legs.

After his recovery, he pursued a career in real estate.

Eventhough he is in semi-retirement, he still finds the time to give back to the Bronx, in the poorest congressional district in the United States.

“This has always been a great opportunity for us (our family) to get involved in the community and help out those who are hungry during a time of year when giving is second nature,” said Joel’s son Mark, speaking on behalf of his father, who could not attend the giveaway because of a cancelled flight. “My father loves to help people and he loves giving back – and that’s what makes this event so important and special to us.”

Mark added that planning this year’s giveaway was particularly difficult, due the poultry shortages caused by the Avian flu and other outbreaks.

“This has always been a very meaningful event that always hits home,” said Mary Zagajeski, president and CEO of Dominican Sisters Family Health Services, which has been involved in the giveaway since its inception. “The Fishmans have been true friends of our agency for a long time, and it’s a wonderful experience every time we partner with them for this giveaway to help an area in need.”

“A distribution of 2000 turkeys? Now that’s a lot of food that can feed a lot of people,” Zagajeski added.

Joel’s grandson, Matthew Roth, looks forward to carrying on his grandfather’s and family’s tradition of giving.

“My goal for this year’s giveaway is to accomplish more than I did last year,” said Matthew, who attended the event for the second consecutive year. “This giveaway is a mitzvah to the community – and it feels great to be a part of it.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

More from Around NYC

>