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Amateur Night

Just before 7:30 p.m., the Green Room was tense.

Amanda Goris, a pudgy 11-year-old from Queens, sucked down honey from a squeezable plastic jar. “It helps the melody come out all beautiful,” she said. The teenage girls from Fully Focused, a dance group from Brooklyn, were putting on their “door-knockers” – massive triangle-shaped fake-gold earrings – and neon yellow and pink Reeboks, squealing with excitement and lip-syncing in front of full-length mirrors. “Fully focused!” one yelled, jumping in the air. In the back, Shaniece Ford adjusted the padding in her strapless turquoise dress, singing along to a portable CD player, her eyes closed.

Abruptly, a voice and music cracked through the large, white-walled room’s speakers, a live feed from the stage. “Welcome to Harlem USA! The world famous Apollo Theater!” a voice boomed over a band and applause. “It’s show time baby!” (more…)

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Carmen Sanchez was fed up. Month after month, her landlord was demanding that she pay thousands of dollars in fees that she says she didn’t owe. There was the charge for the washing machine she doesn’t have and $50 in late fees on payments she says she made on time. (more…)

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While fewer asthmatics in East Harlem are landing in the hospital, asthma rates in the neighborhood are on the rise, prompting a four-prong battle to control the potentially fatal disease. (more…)

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Construction projects that consider environmental impact can save money and promote job growth in local communities, according to panelists speaking at an environmental conference in East Harlem last month. (more…)

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Welfare Worries

Karen Ayee was not happy with New York City public assistance.

A single mother of three from the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, her benefits have nearly been cut off several times despite her continuing city-approved training to be a Licensed Practical Nurse. Last month, however, Ayee, 42, got the unlikely opportunity to take her grievances to the top.

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Jackie Rowe-Adams, 59, a lifelong Harlem resident, has lived a mother’s nightmare.

Two of her four sons, aged 13 and 17, were killed as a result of urban gun violence-the first, twenty five years ago, on 122nd St. and 7th Ave., outside a bodega in Central Harlem, and the second, nine years ago outside an apartment building in downtown Baltimore.

(more…)

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The six-story building that houses the New York headquarters for the Church of Scientology is located on 227 West 46th St., reserving its place amid an ever-bustling, tourist-laden Times Square.Rendering of the new Scientology complex

Inside, over 80 staff members work hard on finalizing community service programs for the Church’s most recent real estate purchase: a 50,000-square-foot property on 125th St. in East Harlem.

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Hunger in Harlem

On Tuesday, Lila Finney stood outside the FoodChange West Harlem Community Kitchen on West 116th Street, dressed as if she might be going to Sunday services. As she does every month, the retired postal worker waited patiently with her push-cart, smiling under a fancy hat that blocked no sun – it was cloudy – and listening for her name to be called from a list. Soon it was, and Finney, 66, emerged from the food pantry five minutes later, her cart full of cereal boxes, canned soups, and fresh vegetables.

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By Nadja Drost

When Martha Anaya was eight years old, she was toiling away in the fields under a Mexican sun hotter than the chilies she was harvesting. (more…)

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By Nadja Drost

In November, it’s Our Lady of Divine Providence. December is saved for Lady Guadalupe. January celebrates Santo Niño. And so it goes at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem, where barely a month goes by before the congregation is celebrating another holiday for a revered saint. (more…)

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