Local elected officials in one Brooklyn neighborhood will be putting on their dancing shoes to help a historic building get a much-needed upgrade. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The School Settlement House has been serving Brooklyn children for generations. It provides neighborhood kids a safe place to study, socialize and play sports after school.
"They sing. They dance," said parent Luis Benzant. They have movie nights, and as well is they get their homework done, which is most important."
"I like gym," said fifth grader Anthony Garcia. "I'm very athletic, and I like to play basketball."
The gym is also the auditorium. Space is maxed out, and the building is antiquated.
School Settlement has been operating since 1901. It was written about in the beloved book "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," based on the author's own childhood memories.
"The author had the character go to School Settlement as kind of a nod to her great experiences growing up in Williamsburg," said Greg Hanlon of the School Settlement Association.
Now, a $16 million campaign is underway to get a new five-story state-of-the-art community center here.
"This building is very, very important because many of our kids don't have indoor recreation space, and so this new facility will create that opportunity for community children," said Michael Rockford, executive director of the School Settlement Association.
To help reach that fundraising goal, the community has turned to what it calls its local celebrities. Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and City Councilman Antonio Reynoso will be showing off their dance moves in a competition this weekend. The School Settlement Association is selling tickets to the event, called "Ready, Sett, Dance," which features nearly a dozen elected officials and community leaders.
"The work that's done here is extremely valuable to this community, so I'm excited to be able to participate," Reynoso said.
Millions of dollars have already been donated to the project, some of it from the business community.
"The Settlement is an institution here in Williamsburg," said Joseph Franquinha, who owns Crest Hardware. "It's helped so many generations of immigrants that came over. and we want it to be like that for generations to come."
With their dance moves, the community hopes to move closer to its goal.