Week in Rewind: Medical school eliminates tuition, school food pantries serve Bronx students, officials vacate makeshift migrant shelter and more

Kerene Edie sits under the dryer at Hair By Dee in Van Nest on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.
Kerene Edie sits under the dryer at Hair By Dee in Van Nest on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.
Photo Camille Botello

‘Worthy cause’: Bronx Albert Einstein College of Medicine receives $1B donation for free tuition

The Bronx’s own Albert Einstein College of Medicine received the largest medical school donation in the country this week, which will guarantee that no Einstein student will have to pay for tuition again.

Ruth L. Gottesman, the chair of the Einstein Board of Trustees and a Montefiore Health System board member, announced she was donating $1 billion to the Bronx medical school on Feb. 26 to an auditorium full of students who leapt from their seats exclaiming after hearing the news. The school is located at 1300 Morris Park Ave. in the East Bronx.

In a statement from Einstein, Gottesman said she is blessed to be able to provide for students in this way. According to Fortune, Gottesman’s late husband David was a friend of Warren Buffet and early investor in Berkshire Hathaway Inc. — a man worth $3 billion in 2022, the year he died at 96 years old.

A person walks by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine one the NYC Health + Hospitals Jacobi campus on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.
A person walks by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine one the NYC Health + Hospitals Jacobi campus on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Photo Camille Botello

School-based food pantry serves three South Bronx schools

At the Charles Drew Campus at East 170th Street and Third Avenue, many of the services students need to be healthy and productive — such as medical care, afterschool activities and counseling — are under one roof. But kids also need food — and many families in the Bronx struggle to get enough.

Enter the school-based food pantry, open three days a week, where families from I.S. 219 New Venture, Frederick Douglass Academy and Knowledge and Power Prep Academy can receive bundles of groceries to help them stretch their budgets.

“Once families know about it, they come consistently,” said pantry coordinator Enuma Okolo.

The pantry is run by Children’s Aid in partnership with Food Bank for New York City, which has helped to establish more than 50 school-based pantries.

Recent state data shows that the Bronx county ranked highest in food insecurity — and that was a survey of only adults. Many who work to fight hunger in the South Bronx say that the community’s need for nutritious food has only increased since the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahsley Billar, a student at Frederick Douglass Academy, makes about $224 per month working in her school’s pantry. Photo Emily Swanson

City officials clear out makeshift migrant shelter housed in vacant Fordham storefront

City officials on Wednesday responded to a complaint regarding a vacant storefront at 305 East Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx’s Fordham neighborhood, where they found dozens of Senegalese migrants sheltering in cramped conditions.

City leaders said that Ebou Sarr — the same person who on Tuesday was found to be sheltering migrants in the basement of a Queens furniture store — was also responsible for this Bronx site, in addition to another discovered back in January at the abandoned Old Fordham Library. While staying at the Fordham store, the migrants reportedly paid Sarr a deposit, plus $300 a month in exchange for a bed and three meals a day.

Sarr, also the owner of Caribbean Furniture on East Kingsbridge Road, did not provide a comment to the Bronx Times when contacted in person at the store, but said that local news outlets have been showing up at both the Bronx and Queens locations over the past two days.

He concurred that “it is against the law for migrants to live in either locations.”

Amid the city’s struggle to keep up with the needs of newly-arrived migrants, Sarr has suggested that he only stepped up to help because the city did not.

makeshift migrant shelter
A Bronx shop run by Ebou Sarr, who was found to be housing migrants in a vacant storefront. Photo Steven Goodstein

Black hair: The price, joy and beauty of it all

Kerene Edie walked into Hair By Dee in Van Nest for her 1 p.m. appointment on Feb. 20 in bejeweled jeans and a blush pink sweater. Her demeanor was light and her smile wide as she greeted Denisse Uribe Palin, the owner of the hair salon, before her appointment — but getting her hair done hasn’t always been a lighthearted affair.

That’s because as a Black woman with ethnic hair, Edie has had trouble finding the right products for her — not just shampoo and conditioner, but also products like hydration and moisturizer, combs and brushes and everything that comes with protective hairstyles. In fact, Edie said Uribe Palin is one of the few stylists she feels comfortable with — she’s had friends with ethnic hair who’ve had hairdressers slip relaxers into conditioner bottles.

That relationship of trust with a stylist hasn’t come without years of trauma, trial and error with other people and products.

“I have to be able to entrust my hair care with whoever it is that’s putting their hands in my hair,” Edie said.

BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank launches new Bronx Music Podcast

A well-known Bronx television personality who has documented the borough for three decades recently celebrated the debut of a borough-based music podcast.

Earlier this month, longtime BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank launched the Bronx Music Podcast in a live recording session on City Island.

The debut episode of the Bronx Music Podcast, which was recorded on Sunday, Feb. 4, took place in front of a live audience at the City Island art and music venue “The Artist” — previously known as “The Starving Artist” — located at 249 City Island Ave.

The first Bronx Music Podcast episode featured Elliott Glick, the co-owner of the Artist as well as a longtime singer and songwriter.

Axelbank (l.) interviews Glick during the live recording session of the debut episode of the Bronx Music Podcast. Photo courtesy Bronx Music Podcast

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