Friday, July 24, 2020
At the Lower East Side Sports Academy car wash on Avenue D
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
I’m meeting with Lower East Side Sports Academy founder Frankie Alameda on a very hot Thursday afternoon on upper Avenue D near 14th Street. We're in the shadow of the Con Edison substation and across the street from the Manhattan pump station (NYC Environmental Protection municipal water treatment building). His sports academy’s team is in action — washing cars as part of an ongoing fundraiser.
Frankie has set up a mobile car wash station to help provide summer jobs and activities for local kids and to provide a much-needed service for those who own or drive vehicles.
Frankie’s arriving with pizza for himself and the kids, and with bags of PPE to provide to community members who may be in need. Masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and wet wipes are all provided by the office of local Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.
Between overseeing the kids’ work on the line of waiting cars, distributing tips from satisfied customers, and greeting neighborhood regulars, Frankie answers my questions about the car wash.
How did the car wash idea get started, and how is it tied in to the Lower East Side Sports Academy?
The car wash concept started with the idea of raising some money for LES Sports RBI baseball team, for uniforms, equipment, healthy snacks and scholarships for the kids.
How can kids — and their families — get involved with the car wash and the LES Sports Academy?
LES Sports kids earn a stipend and get tips as well from our customers. We have created five jobs for the community. The parents come and help with posting on social media, bringing their cars, and helping with some food.
When is the car wash available and how long do you expect it to last?
The car wash is available every day from noon to 7 p.m. and we plan to stay until the end of the summer, adjusting the hours to accommodate play once that is allowed and it’s safe.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown, what has been the best part of this experience, and what has been the worst? How are the kids coping?
The pandemic has given us time to focus on new ways to reinvent ourselves and the community. The worst part is not being able to have physical sports for our kids ... I believe most kids are coping with the pandemic, but some have very tough times being home in a small apartment with a large family. Cabin fever!
You mentioned that you hope eventually to buy a generator and a van. What are some of the needs you and the kids have going forward? How can the community support the effort?
Since we opened the car wash, we noticed we needed more things to make our work more efficient and make the cars nice and clean. We are hoping to get a mobile car wash van, with a power wash, and lastly, a generator to be complete.
What’s next for the car wash team?
Sharing our best practices with other youth sports organizations.
You can keep up with the Lower East Side Sports Academy and the car wash — as well as other activities for kids — here. They have a PayPal account at this link.