By Sam Howe & Friends
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Scaling the Heights
One of the most knowledgeable and capable of those working behind the scenes to help save LICH is an unsung Heights hero named Morrell (Mike) Avram. A resident of the Heights since 1959, Dr. Avram established the Avram Center for Kidney Diseases in 1971. A world-renowned specialist, Dr. Avram remained loyal to LICH through five decades, and his Avram Kidney Center had the distinction of keeping a patient alive on dialysis for 38 years , longer than any other center in the world.
Mike and his wife Maria have, without asking for any fanfare, given millions of dollars to charities in the Heights and in the Hamptons throughout their tenure in the historic neighborhood they love (Maria was recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Stony Brook University School of Nursing.) But perhaps they might not mind a little fanfare for their greatest achievement of all: their children. They have produced five extraordinary professionals, four of whom became doctors:Rella Hartman, MB, Marc Avram, MD, Mathew Avram, MD, and David Avram, MD. Eric Avram, pictured with his father below at a recent White House reception, is a Senior Executive Producer at ABC News.
Destiny of St. Ann’s Warehouse: Performing in Landmark Spaces
Those who remember the birth of the Arts at St. Ann’s will remember that even in the mid-1970s, Susan Feldman was a cutting edge arts producer. At that time, the physical plant of the Church of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity, Montague and Clinton Streets, was in danger. Particularly distressing to the influential preservation community in greater New York was the possible loss of some rare stained glass windows. As a way of bringing attention to the restoration project, the Arts at St. Ann’s was established to produce unusual, high-quality programs to bring people and support to the historic site. Feldman was chosen to run it, and she made a touchdown.
Fast forward to the 21st Century: having built a devoted audience for her programming , Feldman found a DUMBO warehouse space and renamed her arts project St. Ann’s Warehouse. As time dictated real estate market changes, the ‘warehouse’ was slated for demolition. Courted by other venues offering physical plants, Feldman and her board remained faithful to Brooklyn and sought yet another landmark treasure to inhabit and revive: the waterfront Tobacco Warehouse, a pre-Civil War shell that was saved by preservationists years ago as a remnant of Brooklyn’s glorious industrial past on the waterfront.
Expecting this will become a permanent home, and needing support to do it, St. Ann’s Warehouse is throwing a gala May 8 at the Tobacco Warehouse site. The key performer is to be none other than NORAH JONES, 9-time Grammy winner who has sold more than 40 million albums. Also a devoted Brooklynite, Jones recently bought a house in Cobble Hill.
Jones’ neighbor a few blocks away in the Heights is the evening’s honoree. HANK GUTMAN, perhaps more than any of the countless supporters now linked to Brooklyn Bridge Park, has proven himself to be one of “Brooklyn’s greatest Forgers”. In the early days of Brooklyn Bridge Park, it was Gutman who guided the city and state connections that, once forged together, really made the Park dream a possibility. During that same period, decades ago, it was Gutman as a leader on the board of the Brooklyn Central Y, who forged a final plan—one among many attempts—to build a Y for Brownstone Brooklyn.
While many helped generously, including St. Ann’s Warehouse Chairman JOE STEINBERG, one of the most successful and sorely-needed Y facilities in the city, located at Atlantic and Court, was ‘forged’ and overseen by the leadership of HANK GUTMAN. In recent memory, when St. Ann’s Warehouse faced a tough bureaucratic struggle for access to create a facility within the Tobacco Warehouse walls, many labored for the cause, but it was HANK GUTMAN who took out a pair of scissors to attack the red tape.
The St. Ann’s Warehouse board, under the guidance of Chair JOE STEINBERG, and senior board members TONY SCHLESINGER and DAVID WALENTAS, has attracted a whole new generation of young leadership. The future vitality of the entire waterfront seems invigorated by the plans of St. Ann’s. Readers who have not signed up to attend, hear NORAH JONES up close, and feast, should call St. Ann’s Warehouse at 718-834-8794.
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TWO HEIGHTS VOICES, OCTAVES APART
Hardly anyone in the New York region fails to recognize the deep, resonant voice of TOM STEWART, the Station Announcer for PBS’s Channel 13 (now merged with 21 on Long Island). Through many Pledge Drives—as well as many BHA annual meetings, which he graciously hosts—the powerful, reassuring voice remains a fixture New Yorkers have come to love. Residing with that voice on Remsen Street, a few octaves up, is TOM’s wife MAUREEN KELLEY STEWART, a cabaret artist whose one-woman shows have received rave reviews in past years at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street. Critics have said “..a voice to close your eyes and dream to.” But also astounding and engaging are the programs that MAUREEN KELLEY STEWART puts together. Upcoming in June her theme is “Words By Mercer”, featuring program and songs of the legendary, Oscar-winning writer and composer Johnny Mercer. As many who live in the Heights know, it is fun to gather and support our talented neighbors, sometimes simply for the honor of having them so close. But June 1 and June 4, readers who love music will have a rare opportunity to see this extraordinary writing and singing talent. First, go to her website: www.maureenkelleystewart.com ....Oh, we almost forgot the ‘octaves apart‘ thing. Every fall at Mohonk Mountain House, TOM and MAUREEN do a mixed selection of musical theatre favorites together…yes, a happily married couple singing together, in harmony, in public.