A Sunset Park street will now bear the name of a long-time Sunset Park resident who dedicated his life to improving the community.
The life and accomplishments of Charles A. Sferrazza were honored on Wednesday, July 12 (42 years to the day of his death), as City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca led a co-naming ceremony at 44th Street and Eighth Avenue attended by the Sferrazza family, friends and Sunset Park locals. The street will now also be known as Charles A. Sferrazza Way.
“We always need people who will take initiative, encourage others and help their community. Mr. Sferrazza’s life exemplified the best qualities you could hope for in a neighbor,” said Menchaca, who noted that Sferrazza’s sister, Grace, spearheaded the street co-naming effort. “As it was in his generation, Sunset Park is still a thriving immigrant neighborhood and young community leaders of tomorrow will find inspiration in Mr. Sferrazza’s story.”
Sferrazza was born on December 14, 1933 and grew up in Sunset Park, eventually raising his family on 44th Street. As a devoted community leader, Sferrazza was president of the 72nd Precinct Community Council and served on the board of directors for the Leif Erickson Youth Softball League.
In keeping with his belief that the future of a community was dependent on its youth, Sferrazza founded the Community Advisory for Youth, which provided support and mentoring for children.
Sferrazza’s son, Anthony, recalled that his father had as much attachment to the community as he did to his family.
“My dad loved his family and was very committed to the community. He lived here, so he wanted to build a solid, secure community,” said Anthony. “It’s not about people going about their own business, it’s about people helping people. Neighbors reaching out to neighbors and helping each other.”
“He earnestly stood by the causes he believed in and wouldn’t buckle down. He believed in those causes and it didn’t matter what others thought.”
Sferrazza dedication to creating a safe community led him to become president of the 44th Street Block Association in 1972. As president, Sferrazza looked to build strong bonds between neighbors by holding monthly meetings and block watching. The association also hosted fun events, such as block parties, activities for children, baseball games and fundraisers. Sferrazza’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as he was often called upon by other blocks to aid them in setting up their own associations.
In a show of support for police, Sferrazza was influential in establishing Police Appreciation Day, which was hosted at the 72nd Precinct. Besides expressing appreciation for the New York Police Department, the event featured activities for children and awards for exceptional officers.
“It’s a very proud moment, but bittersweet,” said Sferrazza’s son, Phillip. “It’s a great honor for his memory to live on even further in the neighborhood.”
This article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter.