Shorefront Coalition Draws Political Heavyweights To Inaugural Meeting

A new organization dedicated to encouraging broader participation in community affairs held its inaugural event last week and is already showing major political clout.

Dubbed The Shorefront Coalition, the “self-funded, nonpartisan, grassroots, volunteer organization.”  is the brainchild of Brooklyn residents Steve Saperstein and Lev Ekster. 

“We want to promote education and information, and awareness in the community. We promote community service; we promote civic advocacy. Let’s put forth big-picture ideas and projects to improve the quality of life here in Southern Brooklyn,” said Saperstein. 

Among the Southern Brooklyn elected officials who attended the event held at the Riviera, 2780 Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island included State Senators Diane J. Savino and Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymembers David Weprin (D-Queens), Helene Weinstein, Nicole Malliotakis and Steve Cymbrowitz, City Councilman Raphael Espinal (D-Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York), Kalman Yeger Councilman (D- Brooklyn) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Eric Adams, the featured speaker, was instrumental in the formation of the coalition. Adams arrived later in the evening to speak about his time in the NYPD and how he is best suited and ready to lead the city forward in 2021.

“I don’t know how [Ekster and Saperstein] did it,” admitted Sen. Diane Savino, “It’s so hard to get people involved.”

Steve Saperstein. Photo by Bernadette DeVito.

Both Saperstein and Ekster have deep ties to Southern Brooklyn. Saperstein was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach. His grandparents, Milton and Florence, were among the first residents of Trump Village in the 1960s, and his wife Elina emigrated from the former Soviet Union with her family in 1989.

Although Saperstein’s hearing is perfect, his parents, Brian and Susan, and younger brother, Bruce, are deaf. This had a profound effect on Steve, who became fluent in American Sign Language as a young child in order to communicate with his own mom and dad. It’s what led him to a career in special education, where he works to empower students with disabilities (and their families), to give them the same opportunity for success that all Americans are entitled.

Ekster emigrated from Ukraine to the United States as a young child and grew up in Manhattan Beach, and went on to graduate from Ithaca College and then New York Law School. He is currently an admitted attorney, serving as the Vice President of Business Development for an international hospitality company and is also a General Partner of an early-stage technology venture capital firm.

The Coalition has been successful in building relationships with relevant groups and individuals. They even secured the endorsement of prominent organizations in the communities they aim to help. On August 30 at NYPD PSA 1 headquarters in Coney Island, the Shorefront Coalition collaborated with the NYPD 60th Precinct and the I.S.303 Brooklyn-Kiwanis Builders Club, NYPD PSA 1 to distribute backpacks to students in need. The Coalition is also collaborating with Coney Island Hospital to bring drug educational workshops into local schools, youth programs, and community centers. 

Other groups the Shorefront Coalition partnered with include iMishpacha, a Jewish grassroots group, the Brooklyn youth center Kings Bay Y, and the Kiwanis Builder’s Club.

“When I look around this room, I see friends and family, organizations, elected officials, and stakeholders all coming together for the good of the shore and our community,” Saperstein remarked, “That’s what’s so special about tonight – uniting under this one roof.” 

The founders announced the Coalition’s next project, partnering Gounardes to broaden the range of health topics currently discussed in their student workshops. On December 2, the Coalition will be hosting an educational seminar about the dangers of vaping at P.S. 195 in Brooklyn. 

“To us, this is what leadership looks like,” added Ekster, “Putting people before politics.”

For more information on the Shorefront Coalition and to get involved, please visit www.shorefrontcoalition.com

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