Our Time Press

Neighborhood Residents Setting New Standards for aking A Difference in the Community

By Stephanie Green of Shades of Green Entertainment & Jennifer Cadet of ACA

Some businesses acknowledge one-year anniversaries with a celebration of their specific achievements. Jean and Gayna Alerte, owners of Brooklyn Swirl, one of the most successful small businesses in Brooklyn, did it differently by honoring more than 20 success stories: 15 students with scholarships, eight community leaders and the entire neighborhood with a nice party and … not to mention … their tasty yogurt product.

“We celebrated our one-year anniversary on June 29th,” said Mr. Alerte, author of Do Right, Do Good, “and we wanted to honor deserving student achievers, and business and political people in the community who helped promote our business.”

Alerte awarded scholarships to 15 students – the winner received $2,000.00 per year for 4 years; and the other 14 received $500.00 each.  Twelve recipients came from Brooklyn, one from Queens, one from Long Island and one from upstate New York.

With the positive feedback and success of his book, Mr. Alerte partnered with the founder of Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, Tutan Reyes, to help administer the scholarship awards.  Their work resulted in more than 1,000 students applying for the scholarships. Miss Amira Gee was granted a $2,000 recurring scholarship at the Brooklyn Borough Hall ceremony.

“I always show gratitude and appreciation to the people around me.  I build relationships with people because they see what we’re doing.”  And the community sees what the Alertes are doing, too.  And loving what they see.

“The community is watching, listening and appreciating what we’re doing here.  It means a lot to both Gayna and I.  It took a lot of hard work to get where we are and we know it will take just as much hard work, if not more, to sustain our legacy.  Another thing is I wanted to show the franchisers that we were the naysayers and refused to open a shop here that we could and did open one and the community is appreciative and supports our shop.

Don’t just open a business for money because it’s not always going to be easy and not guaranteed to make a profit.  Once you have your purpose, then that is what will sustain you.

 Mostly all of our employees come from this community to increase our vision on providing opportunities.

“We believe we inspire other young entrepreneurs and we’re looking forward to our continued growth.  Recently, I was walking from the basement heading towards my establishment when a couple was passing and the gentleman commented: “I’m surprised this place made it through the winter!”  I replied, “Because it’s good business! He looked at me in astonishment and I continued into my shop.”

Last month, Alerte honored Robert Cornegy, Jr., elected District Leader of Brooklyn’s 56th Assembly District & current President of VIDA; C. Zawadi Morris, Bed-Stuy Patch; Dr. Roy Hastick, CACCI; Tywan Anthony, Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation – Financial Empowerment Center; Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President; Henry L. Butler, Chairman of Community Board 3; and Ava Barnett, President of Brownstoners of Bedford Stuyvesant, Inc.; and Bernice E. Green, President of Legacy Ventures & Publisher of Our Time Press.  Everyone mentioned, including the Brooklyn Swirl staff, was invited to a private reception with a ribbon cutting, distribution of treats and each person received a plaque.  Each plaque and award was given with an explanation and appreciation to each person.

 Editor’s Note: Businesses on Marcus Garvey Blvd., from Decatur to Halsey Streets, are starting a Merchants Association, the first-ever for Marcus Garvey Blvd.  In addition to Brooklyn Swirl, Richard (House of Antiques), Jeffrey (Jeffrey Marcus) Vineyards, and others are meeting once a week to give input. They collectively say, “It’s a team effort”.


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