Bedford Park: Sirio Guerino honored by BMCA for outstanding community service
By DAWN CLANCY
For his ongoing efforts to remove graffiti from buildings in the Bedford Park and Norwood sections of the Bronx, the Bedford Mosholu Community Association (BMCA) presented Sirio Guerino, co-founder of Guerinos Against Graffiti (GAG), with the Mary Vallati Memorial Award. , an annual award that honors individuals who provide exceptional service to their community.
Vallati was a longtime community activist who was active in the association until her death at age 101. News of Guerino’s victory was announced at the last (virtual) BMCA meeting before the summer break, on June 2, and Guerino was physically presented with the award by the association’s executive committee a week later. at a small gathering at Mosholu Parkway and Webster Avenue.
Barbara Stronczer, a longtime Bronxite and chair of BMCA, said the committee felt this year’s accolade belonged to Guerino, who has been doing his cleaning work for several years but has gone to great lengths for the year last, in particular.
âSirio is what I would call a true community volunteer,â Stronczer told the Norwood News. âWe always see him with his caddy walking around the community with paints and brushes in different colors, painting over graffiti he would find on mailboxes and walls. He has been doing this for years and we appreciate his work. We are so happy to have it.
Stronczer is also chair of the Bronx Community Board 7 (CB7) Parks Committee. As such, she was also aware of the extent of Guerino’s repeated cleanup efforts in the wider CB7 community this year, all of which have helped promote a cleaner and safer environment.
In collaboration with NYPD 52sd Cited, the NYPD Explorers and other community groups, several organized clean-up events have taken place in recent months in CB7 to clean up specific blocks that have been identified as being more prone to gun violence than others. Other city agencies have also been engaged to help address other quality of life issues in these target neighborhoods, all with the goal of uplifting the local community. Guerino was one of the central figures involved in the cleanup efforts.
As Norwood News reported in 2017, Guerino and his wife Heather started GAG in 2015 after the couple felt frustrated by the graffiti they had noticed slowly plaguing the walls of neighborhood businesses. But long before GAG ââwas founded, Bronx-born Guerino would often leave his home at 4 a.m. with cans of paint and brushes to hunt down graffiti that had popped up overnight.
“I didn’t understand why my husband would go out with his cart and paint,” Guerino’s wife said at the 52nd District Community Council meeting on May 27. you do’.”
However, in the end, she realized that Guerino’s biggest pet peeve was also her passion. “I decided that I was not going to fight him anymore,” she said. “I wanted to support him, as a partner, so when he asked me to help him beautify the Bronx, I said yes.” Today, Ms. Guerino is President of GAG while Mr. Guerino tracks down graffiti with his branded shopping cart.
In addition to cleaning up the Bronx, the Guerino’s hosted the first-ever GAG Golden Brush Awards at the 52nd Precinct Community Council meeting in May. Golden trophies, topped with paintbrushes and covered in sparkling blue, green and purple glitter, were awarded to community members who had supported and encouraged GAG’s mission over the past year.
Awards were presented to the 52nd District Commander, Deputy Inspector Thomas Alps, and the City’s Sanitation Department Community Affairs Officer, Stephen J. Caruso Jr. Honorable mentions were awarded to the president of the community council of the 52nd district, Brenda Caldwell-Paris and to Stephen Echevarria, in charge of community affairs for the 52nd district.
According to city data, neighborhoods in all five boroughs saw a slight increase in graffiti this year, some of which included offensive hate slogans and symbols, as reported Norwood News. In response, the NYPD created a dedicated email address, [email protected], which New Yorkers can use to send photos and information about the location of graffiti in their respective neighborhoods to request its removal. Once the request has been reviewed and approved, a team of volunteers will be dispatched to follow up.
Meanwhile, reacting to the news of the award, Guerino said receiving it had special meaning given he knew and admired Mary Vallati during her lifetime. In a telephone interview with the Norwood News, he said, âMary has always been very active in the neighborhood, so it’s an honor to receive an award that bears her name.
Anyone looking for a dedicated Bronxite to help with graffiti removal in their area can contact GAG’s Sirio Guerino at (718) 231-4762 or [email protected]
* David Greene contributed to this story.