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Jamaica man celebrates 30 years on the job at LIC’s Access Self Storage

Gomez places a crown on Jeffries head at the party. Credit: Charlie Finnerty


By Charlie Finnerty |

Artie Jeffries of Jamaica celebrated 30 years working as an elevator operator at Access Self Storage in Long Island City. The longest tenured employee, Jeffries has become a beloved member of the team and a friend to many customers. Access Self Storage staff, some of Jeffries’ most loyal customers and loved ones celebrated the milestone, as well as his 56th birthday, at Bantry Bay Publick House on Nov. 11. At the party, he was also presented the Ken Cooley founders award from Access Self Storage corporate office

“Everybody needs a job,” Jeffries said. “Knowing that you have a job, that you’re making money, that you’re paying your rent — knowing that you have a job behind you — I think that’s a great feeling. It’s a lifesaver, knowing people that don’t have a job are out there struggling every single day trying to make ends meet.”

Soraya Gomez, Artie’s manager at Access Self Storage, said Jeffries is a team player and lifts up everyone else in the workplace.

“He’s reliable, we can always count on him,” Gomez said. “Everyone here gets along with him. It’s like there’s no animosity in him.”

Jeffries said he never expected to hold the job for three decades but focuses everyday on making sure he gets his work done.

“Just trying to keep a job is the biggest challenge. I thought I wouldn’t be here that long. When I first started, I thought I might be gone in three years,” Jeffries said. “I hung in there and they noticed me. I work hard.”

Jeffries operates the elevator at Access Self Storage. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

In his time at Access Self Storage, Jeffries said he has seen a lot of other staff come and go but repeat customers, some who have been there even longer than himself, help build a familiar and supportive community at work.

“I’ve seen so many people come and go,” Jeffries said. “We get repeat customers a lot and they help me out a lot. They’re very supportive and we’re very supportive of them. We help each other out. They’re still here, it’s like a miracle.”

Jeffries said he does not take any of his work for granted and tries to be better every day than the day before.

“Even though it’s difficult sometimes, it’s difficult tasks, you manage to work yourself through them. And that’s what I’ve managed to do,” Jeffries said. “For all the years that I’ve been here, I’ve tried to make myself better than I was the last time. More productive, available, communicative, more responsive, more responsibility. Not a lot of people get that chance to actually be at a job that long and say, you know, ‘Hey, I’ve achieved something.’ Even being here ten years is a miracle.”

With support from his job coach Carlos Pino from AHRC New York City, an organization which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Artie has thrived on the job.

“Artie by himself is a wonderful person. The way he was moving around and smiling at the party, that’s him,”  Pino said. “That’s him, he’s always that way. He smiles, never has to complain. Always looking to the bright side.”

Jeffries said his focus is on finding joy in the small things, both in and outside of his work.

“I’m 56 years old. I just try to enjoy life,” Jeffries said. “Like they say, life is short, so you’ve gotta enjoy every moment of it.”

Astoria Welfare Society distributes winter clothing

The Astoria Welfare Society distributed winter clothing Sunday Oct. 29 to more than 300 migrants, asylum seekers and other community members in need at 30th Street and 36th Avenue in Astoria. In an emailed statement, Astoria Welfare Society General Secretary Mohammed Jabed Uddin said that it is everyone’s responsibility to stand beside those who are unemployed and in financial crisis, especially as cold winter weather comes to the city. In addition to Uddin, the organization’s president Sohel Ahmed, community activist Shamsher Ali and Queen’s Bangladesh Society advisor Tofail Chowdhury led the event. The program was funded by Apollo Insurance Brokers CEO Shamsher Ali.

Uddin said he saw that community members often have unused old winter clothing and recognized a need in the shelter system.

“There are people in the community that have extra clothes they left in the closet or sometimes they never use them. Sometimes they throw them away. But these jackets, if I can have them, I can give them to these people who have no food, no water,” Uddin said.  “Our shelter system is very bad. They’re not getting enough support. People are looking for cans and food on the streets.”

Uddin has also established a community freezer on 36th Avenue and 30th Street which he restocks daily for people who cannot afford groceries.

“People have no jobs, rent is too high,” Uddin said.

Astoria Welfare Society was originally founded in 2019 to provide Halal groceries to low income muslim communities in Western Queens. At the time, they were the only organization providing free halal food in the city, according to the organization’s website. Uddin says their events have reached over 4,000 community members in need. During Hurricane Ida he helped raise $20,000 to help families whose homes and cars had been damaged.

Uddin said he constantly hears from people across the city that need resources.

“I get calls everyday. I’ve gotten three calls today so far,” Uddin said. “Today I talked to people from Bronx and Brooklyn, two guys. I just got a few jackets that they’re going to come and pick up from me.”

Uddin said the Astoria Welfare Society is planning a Thanksgiving food drive to give away halal chicken Nov. 18 sponsored by State Senator Kristen Gonzalez and Queens Together.


Reagan Club Welcomes Heritage Foundation Director

By Charlie Finnerty |

The Ronald Reagan Republican Club of Astoria hosted Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Energy and Climate Center, at their monthly meeting. Furchtgott-Roth spoke about American energy independence, infrastructure and the proliferation of electric vehicles. Activist, former mayoral candidate and founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, also spoke at the Tuesday, Oct. 17 event as well as a representative from Republican Kelly Klingman’s campaign for Tiffany Cabán’s City Council District 22 seat.

The Reagan Club at Rocco Moretto VFW Post. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

“I am always honored to speak to anyone who invites me. It is always a great pleasure to come and speak to anyone who is interested in better economic policies and particularly energy policy,” Furchtgott-Roth said.

Robert Hornak, vice president of the club, has been in Republican Party organizing since his early days in the Young Republicans Club. Hornack said connecting grassroots political organizations to larger conservative names on the national stage is essential to building a sustainable local party.

“One of the things I learned very early when I was running [the Young Republicans] was that the more interesting the speaker, the better the crowd,” Hornack said.

In addition to her work at the Heritage Foundation, Furchtgott-Roth is an adjunct professor of economics at George Washington University and previously served in the Reagan, Bush senior, Bush junior and Trump presidential administrations. Furchtgott-Roth, said one of her top priorities when speaking on energy policy is the security implications of energy independence.

“Whether it’s a small or a large event, the message is the same,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “We don’t want to be dependent on China or any other country for our energy production.”

In her speech, Furchtgott-Roth claimed that the production of wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure materials in China would make renewable energy in the United States dependent on Chinese manufacturing while many domestic oil reserves remain untapped, blaming President Biden’s “war on fossil fuels.”

“If we depend on wind turbines and solar panels, we are not self-reliant, we are dependent on another country,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “There is a fundamental difference in policy between people who think that we should be moving towards renewables and people who are thinking  that we should be resilient and self-reliant and have energy independence.”

Guardian Angels at the club meeting. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

According to, the majority of American solar panels are imported with three-quarters of those imports originating from Chinese subsidiaries. In 2004, the US accounted for about 13% of global solar panel shipments but that number fell to just 0.5% in 2017. The US produces up to 90% of domestic wind turbine parts in 500 manufacturing facilities employing over 100,000 people, but is still heavily reliant on imported raw materials such as steel and lithium batteries.

To address concerns about domestic energy manufacturing needs, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act included over $15 billion in clean manufacturing tax incentives for American renewable infrastructure investments. According to the World Resources Institute, in the year since the IRA passed, manufacturing construction has roughly doubled with forecasts of higher growth in the next few years. Manufacturers of battery components, wind and solar equipment, and electric vehicles have announced tens of billions of dollars in new investments. Between August 2022 and July 2023, 272 new clean energy projects were announced in 44 states, generating more than 170,000 new jobs.

On the post-IRA manufacturing shift in the US, Furchtgott-Roth said there have been gains but would like to see more. She also added that a share of those manufacturing gains have come from Europe, leaving less of an impact of China’s control on the market than immediate numbers might suggest.

Furchtgott-Roth. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

“Some [manufacturing] is shifting back to the United States, but some is still in China,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “We also have manufacturing that’s moving from Europe to the United States, because the price of electricity is so high in Europe.”

Furchtgott-Roth also spoke at a number of other events while in the city, including a debate at Pace University Law School about the gender wage gap and an appearance on Stuart Varney’s show on Fox Business.

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