2002-12-12 / View From the Middle

View From

The MiddleThanks, Frank, For Making Our Season (And Lives) Brighter
By Charles Rogers

The Middle
Thanks, Frank, For Making Our Season (And Lives) Brighter

So here I am, just before the big deal snowstorm we had last week, shivering my bones as I take pictures of that great holiday display at that beautifully-lit holiday house at the corner of East 93rd Street and Flatlands Avenue. The lighting ceremony had taken place the previous evening and I just wanted to get another picture of the greeting-card-like exhibit. I’ve always marveled at it because it sort of put me in the holiday spirit. Despite the cold and wind, predecessors to the stormy weather to come, I got that feeling again, delighting at the beautiful creche and animated figures, glowing reindeer, stoic toy soldier and, lastly, the depiction of the sleeping Santa on Dec-ember 26th.

The display was originally presented to the community by the late Frank Guarino and is now given to us by Assemblyman Frank Seddio, a home-grown Canarsien who, under the wing of Guarino, has made quite a name for himself (More about that later)

. At the lighting ceremony last week, Seddio paid homage and dedicated the event to Guarino, who passed away this year, saying he had for years been his "friend and mentor."

Now, about that Seddio guy: As a state legislator and all-around political person, he is probably headed for bigger things in the near future. After all, we can’t dismiss offhand the fact that good people have come out of Canarsie’s 39th Assembly District (soon to be the 59th) in the past. Stanley Fink was the Speaker for years, after all, a position that put him third in line for the highest title in the state. That’s not to say Frank would go that far, but it is worth considering the "good stock," around these Democratic parts. Don’t forget the guys who handled getting Fink into office: Meade Esposito and Tony Geno-vesi, Seddio’s predecessor.

I first met Frank Seddio at least a score of years ago. At that time he was what we would call a "community activist" of the first rank. If he wanted to get something done, it would be a natural gesture for him to rally his neighbors together and get it done, whether it had to do with more garbage pickups on his block or getting rid of a dirty, toxic landfill on our doorstep.

He was a an immediate leader, founding, with a few others, the Canarsie Volunteer Ambulance Corps; becoming Grand Knight of the K of C St. Pius X Council, member of the board of Canarsie AWARE and board member of the Canarsie Mental Health Clinic. When I met him, I was covering the meetings of all these organizations and — whadaya know? — I would meet Frank at every one of them.

Now, as a reporter, I had to attend these meetings; Frank Seddio didn’t. He was there not because he would be furthering his career,. But because he cared.

Once, while attending a gathering of the people directly involved with AWARE — the youth center that handles "at risk" youths who were trying to get out of the drug and/or alcohol habits — I asked Frank why he was there.

"Because they need someone," was the answer. "Their parents don’t seem to care, so if I and a handful of others don’t take some responsibility, who will?"

As a result of his involvement in community affairs, it was a natural progression for Seddio, who was a police officer, to take the job as District Man-ager of Community Board 18 in 1985. In his role there, high profile would be the name of the game because he became a presence virtually everywhere. (Frank, Why do you do it? Because I care!) Later he gave up that job and became an attorney — opting to also become chairman of CB 18 — the first and only person in the city’s history to have been district manager and chairman of a community board.

Did I mention that Frank was also a member of theDistrict 18 School Board? He only gave that up

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because he took over the seat in the State Legislature.

This season is especially busy for Frank Seddio. There’s that house, after all, and that Assembly job, although they’re on vacation now, and that attorney thing and, oh, yes, let’s not forget those organization meetings and, yes, those appearances at a plethora of senior citizen centers and the seasonal parties and stopping on the corner to shake a well-wisher’s hand and even talk for a moment. That’s what Frank is good for. He’ll take a note or two and, when he says he’ll "look into" a problem, you can be sure he’ll get around to looking into it.

A few years ago, I remember, it was a cold, cold Sunday morning when a number of activists gathered in front of the compost section at Seaview Park to protest its establishment. I won’t go into the intricacies of the situation, except to say that, hey, there was Frank, right in the middle of it, siding with his neighbors for a cause he felt was right.

"Why are you here, Frank?" I asked.

"Somebody’s got to do it," he answered

Seems like that somebody is always Frank Seddio.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Seddio. Keep making ours nice and bright.

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