Friday, January 23, 2009

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island- Pie Day, NYer Money Cartoons, Free Museums, Abandoned Subway Tour & RI Tour

You Tube Video of Cherry Pie from Twin Peaks

Looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

Friday is National Pie Day and New Yorkers can celebrate with blogger Tasty Lacy's pies:
... On Friday, January 23 at Greenwich Village Bistro (around 7), I will have pies to celebrate National Pie Day: peanut butter, sweet potato, apple, chocolate cream and chocolate chip bourbon pecan.

Peanut butter seems to be a broad favorite. Plus, the Bistro has come up with beer pairings…and the Kelso Nut Brown Ale is supposed to be a good fit for this one. (I understand there is some apprehension about pie and beer…but, to those who are fearful, I implore you to check out Charlie Papazian’s blog.)

Obama’s favorite pie is allegedly sweet potato…but then that story surfaced that he *also* likes a peach cobbler at a Chicago diner and so now I feel like I can’t properly pay homage to the inauguration if I don’t make that as well...
Mmmmmm. Peaunut Butter and Sweet Potato Pie - can't get better than that.

Free NYC reports that admission will be free on Friday night at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum. Be aware that the lines will probably be long so get there early. Several weeks ago, I tried to get into MOMA during a free Friday night but the lines were just too long. I headed up to the Whitney and they were much more manageable.

On Saturday a trip to the Morgan Library and Museum may pick up your spirits if you need a laugh to drown out all of the misery caused by the current economic meltdown. They are having an exhibit:
Celebrating the art of the cartoonist, On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker features approximately eighty original drawings by some of The New Yorker's most talented and beloved artists who have tackled the theme of money and the many ways in which it defines us. Included in the show are drawings by such luminaries as Charles Barsotti, George Booth, Dana Fradon, Lee Lorenz, William Hamilton, and J. B. Handelsman. The exhibition is on view only at the Morgan.
On Friday evenings, admission is free.

On Sunday the tour of the abandoned Atlantic Avenue Subway tunnel in Brooklyn is back. Blogger Andamom took the tour:
Yesterday, my husband and I finally toured the abandoned subway tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It is the world’s oldest subway tunnel as it was built in 1844 — but interestingly abandaned due to political pressures in the early 1860s. Although the last train went through it in 1859. When it was sealed in 1861, it was all but forgotten and mentioned only in legends. Some of these legends included pirates, openings to the tunnel from pubs on Atlantic Avenue, and former Irish workers who chopped their English overseer to bits after he ordered them to work for the same amount of money on Sundays....
On Roosevelt Island this weekend, the Farmers Market will be open as usual on Saturday as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association which is exhibiting the Winter of Change group show (This show will be closing on January 25). Also, RIOC has produced a great self guided tour map (PDF File) of Roosevelt Island for any visitor or resident looking to stroll the Island and learn something more about it.

Good weekend transportation news. The MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions and RIOC is not reporting any Tram service advisories either.

Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Roosevelt Island's Child School Legacy High School Finalists in Foreign Policy Association Competion - Are They Available To Help Hillary Clintion?

Image of Hillary Clinton at State Department from NY Times

Now that former New York Senator Hillary Clinton is the new United States Secretary of State in the Obama Administration she may be looking for some help dealing with all of the difficult foreign policy and international affairs issues facing our nation. One place she may look for advice is here on Roosevelt Island where students from the Child School Legacy High School came in third place at the World Quest NYC competition hosted by the Foreign Policy Association. According to the Child School web site:
Four students from Legacy High School won 3rd place at the World Quest NYC competition on December 4. The Foreign Policy Association (FPA) hosted the event which was held at Scholastic company's headquarters. We are particulary proud of our students, Jennie E., Kevin D., Belle R., & Joe S., for facing stiff competition from 6 teams including Stuvesant High School who won 1st place. World Quest is designed to challenge players on knowledge of international affairs, geography, culture and history.

One hundred multiple-choice questions were asked from 10 categories: Biotechnology and Genetics, Transnational Crime, Global Population, International Film, The New York Times, Global Business Technology, Lebanon, Current Events, Water, and Great Decisions (Iraq, Russia, Latin America, Chinese Economic Relations, Foreign Aid and Philanthropy).
Congratulations to the students and school!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update On Low Cost Meals For Roosevelt Island Residents From Angel Food Ministries & RIDA - Volunteers Are Needed To Help Distribute The Food

You Tube Video of Angel Food Ministries News Report From Fox 2 News St. Louis

An update regarding the Angel Food Ministries and Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) program to provide low-cost meals to the residents of Roosevelt Island. From an earlier post:
Gristedes and Fresh Direct may have some low cost competition in the Roosevelt Island grocery food business from a couple of Monroe Georgia Pastors and The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA). RIDA is the local sponsor of a new Roosevelt Island monthly food delivery service from an organization called Angel Food Ministries that will provide low cost meals to all residents, regardless of income, who sign up for their services. According to their web site:
Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Georgia (between Atlanta and Athens), and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states...
Jim Bates of RIDA sends the following message seeking volunteers to help with the food distribution, information on how you can order for February and view the menu.
Thanks for asking about volunteers, Yes we can use some and even better would be for someone to go with me to pick the orders in Brooklyn this Saturday. I would need 1 or 2 to come with me and pick up the food and about 3-4 more people in the afternoon at 2:30 PM to distribute the food to the families that purchased the food.

42 people ordered 64 different items on the menu and saved more then $1800.00. I will add more days in which Islanders can order food, including Saturdays and a few evenings. We will be helping many more families save on their monthly food costs as soon as the word gets out on how much food is given and especially the quality at such a low price.
February menu is now online and we will start taking Orders this Saturday Jan 24th and end Friday Feb 13th. Delivery of food will be on Sat. February 28th. The new menu is now online at
It is important to remember that service is available to all regardless of income. Roosevelt Island ordering information is available here. Information on Angel Food Ministries in the New York and New Jersey area is here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Columbia University Urban Planning Town Hall Meeting on Roosevelt Island Transortation Issues - Is the Slingshot Over The East River Ready For Action?

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Shuttle Slingshot by Robert Hickman

RIOC's Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder sends the message below to all members of the Roosevelt Island community regarding a study and Town Hall Meeting on Roosevelt Island Transportation Alternatives undertaken by the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The Town Hall Meeting will take place on Thursday night (7:15 PM) January 22 at the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street) All forms of Roosevelt Island transportation options will be addressed including the subway, tram, cars, Red Bus, Ferries and maybe even some that have not been considered yet.

Although being flung across the East River looks like fun, I don't think that The Roosevelt Island Sling Shot is ready for public use - at least not yet!

As Roosevelt Island residents know all too well, the community has evolved during the past 40 years from the much heralded and highly innovative “new town in town” concept of the 1960’s. Formative concepts such as a “traffic free” environment and battery operated “mini buses” have given way to practicalities, budget realities and a growing population. A fresh look is needed at the impact of present and future growth.

The Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture’s Urban Planning program will focus on recommendations to improve access within, to and from the Island by looking at all the various transportation modes. Improving pedestrian and bicycle access will be evaluated especially since an early aspect of the design of Roosevelt Island was to have an auto free community. Journey to work access will be evaluated by looking at all available and potential modes: bus, tram, subway, vehicular circulation, potential ferry and even perhaps new and innovative approaches that are not yet even on the radar screen.

Eleven students led by Dr. Floyd Lapp, FAICP, an adjunct professor of planning at Columbia, will work on the project starting now and into the first half of May. Dr. Lapp, an urban planning practitioner with 45 years experience, asserts that this will not be just an academic exercise. The team will reach out to the community and appropriate agencies and organizations seeking realistic and practical solutions. Toward that end, a community meeting will be held in the Good Shepherd Community Center on Thursday, January 22, at 7:15 to describe the proposed project in greater detail and seek suggestions from those persons who live and work on Roosevelt Island. “If this project is to be a success, community participation is essential from the start and throughout the process,” Lapp said. A final report will be presented to the client, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, in May. This Columbia Graduate School of Architecture Urban Planning transportation initiative arose as a result of discussions with RIOC resident Board Member, Jonathan Kalkin.


Thursday, January 22, 2009 @ 7:15 @ the Good Shepherd Community Center.
RIRA Common Council Delegate and recently elected RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin is responsible for this innovative initiative to address one of Roosevelt Island's most pressing needs. Good job Jon!

UPDATE - 1/22 - Jon Kalkin provides some background on this initiative:
Almost two years ago I contacted the Dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Urban Planning and Architecture. I looked at the many problems of the island as a resident as thought it would be a great thing for any university to study. My hope is that it would be free and I would find the right team. The Dean was kind enough to refer me to Dr. Lapp, whose background, skills, and experience in both the public sector, academia and the private sector were perfect for this type of study. RIOC agreed to be the client and things have been going very smoothly.

We have a range of problems from overcrowding subways to an unreliable red bus. In addition, we have new areas of transportation like ferry service that need to be studied. We need to take the suggestions of the community, coupled with the expertise of this team, and make real changes in the way we travel.

The goal of this study is to bring light to past ideas that may work, and to bring new ideas to the board and the community. The problem in the past is there have been a lot of good common sense ideas introduced, but they haven't been tested. As a member of the operations committee, I want to see these suggestions tested and made a reality. The most important thing to remember is that Dr. Lapp has extensive ties to city government and can help us publicize this problem to not only the board, but outside agencies, and government officials. We need a concerted effort from all of them to see real change.

The red bus is one of the things that we can tackle quickly and can make a real dent in the problem. Other aspects of the transportation problem may take more time and influence outside of Roosevelt Island, but the red bus can get people to the station in a quick and more reliable manner. One idea that I have pushed is to have access for all of Roosevelt Island to the GPS antennas that are currently being installed on each of the red buses by the Octagon's management. I have fought for the idea that this is not only a great idea for the Octagon, but the rest of the island. This way you could see at the station when the next bus is arriving and where it is currently on the island. Other ideas are a possible RIOC card like we have right now, but a plastic one that holds more value than a dollar. Our current system works with these kind of cards and could help us utilize this data to see what the real ridership is. It may make us more efficient as well. Many have argued that the Octagon express is empty later in the rush period, but without a study these complaints are unheard. These are the things we need to examine. Other ideas like foot access to the bridge and subway changes are something that need to brought to the city's attention. The technology is there, the ideas are there, but we need to make them a reality. I believe this study will make that possible.
Again, great work by Mr. Kalkin but this is only the beginning. If Roosevelt Island residents truly want to improve their transportation options we need to get behind and help with this initiative as well as the Access RI study and survey.

Examples of the types of questions in the Access Roosevelt Island Survey are:

On a scale from 1 to 5 please rate your mobility.

How often do you use the red bus service on Roosevelt Island?

Where is your primary physician located?

On a scale from 1 to 5, please rate the availability of health care services to your household.

Do you have some form of health coverage? (insurance/medicare/medicaid/HMO/COBRA)

Note that these questions are part of the RI Access survey and can only be answered at their web site.

RIRA President On Gang Summit, Holding Cells, RIOC Budget, Red Bus, Civilian Complaint Review Board & Other Items of Interest To Roosevelt Island

Image of RIRA Common Council Meeting with PSD Guerra attending

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Frank Farance sends the following message to the Roosevelt Island community. This message was also published as the RIRA column in the 1/17/09 Main Street WIRE (PDF File).
Date: 2009-01-14

Happy New Year! I don't make too many New Years Resolutions. Nine years later, I'm still working on my resolution of 2000 (to better remember names and faces) and I think I have about five more years to go.

1. January 7, RIRA Common Council. We gave the floor to Public Safety Director Keith Guerra to discuss his January 12 Gang Summit. Director Guerra said there is no gang problem on Roosevelt Island, but there might be a gang "issue", such as members of off-Island gangs residing on Roosevelt Island. After the presentation, we took some general questions on Public Safety. PSD and 114 precinct officers reported: (1) crime was down in the114 Precinct, (2) crime was down on Roosevelt Island, (3) PSD incidents were down. Overall, it was a worthwhile discussion - the questions, comments, and answers were intelligent and well-informed. Director Guerra said he might come back 3-4 times over the year. He is always welcome at RIRA. Note: At the Gang Summit meeting, some residents complained that the major Island youth organizations (PS 217, Childs School, Roosevelt Island Youth Program, Beacon Program) were not represented, but these organizations were not contacted nor were they asked to participate in the event - maybe this could be coordinated better next time.

2. January 14, RIRA Town Hall meeting. I am writing about this before the meeting, so I don't have anything to report. I'll have follow-up comments on my blog at ""
. Feel free to comment.

3. RIOC Budget. The information packet I received has some information, but largely the information is presented poorly for planning purposes. In short, the budget reports are a bunch of numbers that make everything look balanced, they don't give meaningful information on long-term planning, and long-term planning is the most critical aspect of the RIOC budget. For example, we've heard that of the one-time payments RIOC received for Southtown and Octagon, RIOC has spent 43 year's worth (of 68 years worth of payments). With RIOC's poor presentation of its budget, it's impossible to know the validity of the 43-of-68-year statement. Likewise, the budget information itself is poor in that is lacks the kind of detail a RIOC Director would need to know to make an informed decision about the budget.

4. I've looked more into the Red Bus situation. This is truly dysfunctional. Remember the Island resident who as a RIOC employee who lost his hours? (Hours have been restored, I've heard.) I forgot to mention that this bus driver got on the bad side of RIOC management because: he made suggestions on how to improve the reliability of the bus service. He was glum and a long-time employee consoled him: we don't make suggestions around hear, the boss doesn't like it. Another time, he was behind a couple bunched-up buses and made a suggestion on the radio to the two drivers in front of him. He was reprimanded: "You're not a supervisor, you don't talk on the radio". So for you Octagon and Manhattan Park residents, you can see why the Red Bus doesn't work and why it can't be fixed. For the past two years, RIOC management (Shane, Martinez) continually ignore practical suggestions on improving this: their assumption is whatever the residents propose is wrong. Look how long it took to get the bus route fixed at the turnaround at the tram - it took several months and an Intervention in Steve Shane's office. Still, it didn't get fixed properly.

5. "New York State Puts Prison Holding Cells in Synagogue and Children's Dance School; Island Jews Don't Want to Walk Prison Halls; 50 Little Ballerinas Protest and Occupy RIOC Offices". Well that could be the headlines and it would certainly be visually compelling in the local newspapers and on TV. This one really gets a knucklehead award for bad planning. While it is reasonable for Public Safety to upgrade and refurbish their offices and it might be reasonable to build two holding cells (male and female), taking away space from the Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance and from the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation is a bad idea. A really really bad idea is: building the holding cells on the premises so that little children can see/hear prisoners (frightening for children and parents). Of course, RIOC did not discuss this with the public - it is looking to take the space without understanding why and how the organizations need their space. Maybe RIOC and PSD staff should take a musical theatre workshop class and get a better understand of how theatres/schools use space.

Here's the simple solution: (1) Don't take one inch of the MSTDA and RIJC space, (2) build the holding cells in the 550 space on the ground floor, (3) refurbish the 548 entrance, stairs, and elevator so it is attractive and useful for the MSTDA and RIJC organizations. Not One Inch. Politicians are supportive and residents are supportive, so could RIOC and PSD avoid the mess of a noisy protest and choose a different space and configuration of their holding cells? We await your response.
In regard to item #1 - the gang summit- there is some discrepancy whether or not Roosevelt Island youth organizations were informed about the gang summit. Public Safety Director Keith Guerra and others say that the Youth Organizations were informed. Mr. Farance provides an update to his report at the RIRA blog:
Keith was upset that I reported that youth organizations were not invited to participate by PSD. Keith told me today that a Public Safety Youth Officer had spoken to the organizations directly. I stand by my reporting. I followed up with one organization (RIYP, Charlie DeFino) who said:

We (RIYP) were not contacted by Public Safety. I know the Youth Officer and the last time I saw her was in December. No discussion of a gang summit.

I asked Charlie about Keith’s claim that PS officers came to the Youth Program this Monday evening:

PS: officers wanted to invite Charlie to the Gang summit
RIYP: there are only 3 of us and we don’t have staffing to send some one

Charlie says he was there on Monday night, no officers came. He spoke with Charles Royce who is at the front door of RIYP, Charles said no PS officer ever arrived.

Of course, information about the gang summit was posted all over Roosevelt Island, in the community blogs and the WIRE so I don't think there is really much of an excuse for the Youth organizations claiming that they did not know of the Gang Summit.

Mr. Farance also updates item # 5 regarding the proposed Public Safety Holding Cells at the RIRA blog.

Also, below is the RIRA President's message from 12/17/08. It is a little dated but better late than not at all. Among the items Mr. Farance reports on is that the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department is subject to the jurisdiction of the NY City Civilian Review Board.
Date: 2008-12-17

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has wonderful time with family and friends.

1. January 7, RIRA Common Council meeting at 8PM in lower room in the church. Public Safety Director, Keith Guerra will make a presentation on a Public Safety, and suggest that the residents attend a Gang Summit on January 12, which will inform parents and residents on how to recognize gang-related activities.

2. January 14, RIRA Town Hall meeting at 8PM in the main floor of the church. We will discuss the RIOC Board agenda for the RIOC Board meeting on January 15. I spoke with RIOC President Steve Shane about collaboration on the town hall meetings. Steve is concerned about formalizing such an approach, but Steve will attend the January 14 meeting and participate in the discussion (thanks Steve!).

3. I spoke with Director Guerra about how a Citizens Complaint Review Board might work. In short, we can use the CCRB for New York City and presently, we already have the right to submit complaints to the CCRB for concerns about Public Safety. As Director Guerra describes it, when a CCRB complaint comes in, there would be two parallel investigations: one in the CCRB and one in Public Safety. The following are the possible results of a CCRB complaint (replace NYPD with PSD):

Substantiated, exonerated, or unfounded dispositions are considered "findings on the merits" because they reflect the CCRB's decision on the validity of the complaint. The rate at which the board makes findings on the merits is the clearest quantitative measure of the effectiveness of investigations carried out by the CCRB staff.

- Substantiated: There is sufficient credible evidence to believe that the subject officer committed the act charged in the allegation and committed misconduct. The board can recommend to the police commissioner appropriate disciplinary action.

- Exonerated: The subject officer was found to have committed the act alleged, but the subject officer's actions were determined to be lawful and proper.

- Unfounded: There is sufficient credible evidence to believe that the subject officer did not commit the alleged act of misconduct.

Unsubstantiated outcomes, cases where the police officer was never identified, and miscellaneous closures do not constitute findings on the merits, since the allegations remain unresolved.

- Unsubstantiated: The weight of the available evidence is insufficient to substantiate, exonerate or unfound the allegation.

- Officer(s) unidentified: The agency was unable to identify the subject(s) of the alleged misconduct.

- Miscellaneous: The subject of the allegation is no longer a member of the New York City Police Department

See the following links for more information.

My sense is that we might be able to get something workable with good progress and little cost -- and we're not reinventing a process!

4. An Island resident, who is also a red bus driver for RIOC, just became a RIRA Common Council member. Unfortunately, he lost his work hours -- apparently lost because he joined the RIRA Common Council. I've inquired and the problem was resolved successfully. Thanks to Steve Shane for adding sanity to the situation.

5. The red bus service is a long discussion and I will follow up with comments, photos, and videos on my blog at ""
Feel free to comment.

6. Over the next two months, I will be spending much time reviewing the proposed RIOC budget, and explaining how taxes and services work on Roosevelt Island.
See you next year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching Barack Obama's Presidential Inaugural Ceremony On Roosevelt Island - A Packed House

Packed House of Roosevelt Islanders watching Inaugural of President Barack Obama

I stopped by Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Community Center to watch President Barack Obama's Inaugural Ceremony and was thrilled to see so many people in attendance. The room was packed, standing room only, with Roosevelt Islanders of every age present, from toddlers to Seniors, and reflected the multi-ethnic and racial composition of our community. Prior to President Obama's (doesn't that sound great) speech, those in attendance initially watched quietly and intently to the proceedings, not quite believing that what we were seeing was actually occurring, but then burst out in applause and cheering when President Obama took the Oath Of Office, with quite a few people wiping some tear drops from their moist eyes.

Here is video and text of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address from CNN.

The Obama administration has already gone to work by changing the White House web site so that citizens can participate in the new agenda for the United States. Change has come to the White House.

Newsday reports that an employee of Roosevelt Island's Coler-Goldwater Hospital won a lottery to attend the Inaugural:
Thompson, a data-entry administrator at Coler-Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, won tickets to watch the inauguration up close from Sen. Charles Schumer, who conducted a statewide lottery in December to distribute 175 pairs of tickets.

... Thompson has high expectations for Obama's administration.

"I hope the best for him," she said. "I hope that what he says he's going to do, he'll do it. I hope that he does his best."

But Thompson said she's aware of the difficulties that face the president-elect. She doesn't expect him to complete all of his campaign promises right away.

"It's not going to be easy," she said. "We're really in a bad situation right now. It's going to take time for him to get the country back running."
This is the first Presidential election that I have ever been proud to have voted for any candidate. I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama.

Now the hard work begins.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Barack Obama Issues A Call To Serve On Dr. Martin Luther King Day & Roosevelt Island's Doctor Resnick Responds With Plan to Help Home Bound Neighbors

You Tube Video of Martin Luther King Day Call to Service by President-elect Barack Obama

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rather than celebrate Dr. King by taking a relaxing day off from work or school, President- elect Barack Obama challenges Americans with a Call To Serve your community and neighbors. Roosevelt Island's Doctor Jack Resnick has accepted the challenge and sends the following message regarding a new volunteer program he is developing to help the home bound elderly and disabled residents of Roosevelt Island.

Dr. Resnick will explain his plans later tonight (6PM) during an event held by the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association honoring Dr. Martin Luther King being held at Seniors Center (546 Main Street). Dr. Resnick will also talk about his plan on Tuesday prior to the RIOC sponsored viewing of the Presidential Inaugural at the Good Shepherd Community Center. (Main Street WIRE has more here.) According to Dr. Resnick:
We will be introducing a new volunteer service opportunity to Roosevelt Island residents at an MLK Day event at the Senior Center and the next day at the chapel during the RIOC sponsored community inaugural event.

The inspiration for this came from an e-mail from Michelle Obama encouraging people to a Call for Service on those two days and is posted on their web site as an event.

The idea has the support of the leaders of both the Seniors (Dolores Greene) and The Disabled (Virginia Granato) Associations.

The idea -- at this early stage -- is create Independence at Home Volunteers. People would offer their time to help out homebound Roosevelt Island residents. There would be a central clearing house where individuals could request help and offer help. The time people served would generate credits. If some day in the future a volunteer needed assistance, he or she would be able to draw down on those credits. The idea needs a lot of work but I'm hoping that someone will come forward at one of these meetings and offer to spearhead such an organization.
Last week, a new Roosevelt Island resident and reader of this blog wrote in asking:
Hi Roosevelt Islander
I enjoy reading your blog. My wife, son and I are recent arrivals (July 08, Manhattan Park) on the Island, and your blog has been key in staying up to date on Island life.
I'm wondering if you're aware of any volunteer opportunities on the Island for MLK day? Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
At the time I was not aware of Doctor Resick's plan but I suggested:
I am not aware of any volunteer activities on RI specifically for, or on, MLK day but there are Roosevelt Island volunteer opportunities. Take a look at this post on volunteering at Coler Goldwater hospital. I know the Girl Scouts were looking for volunteer leaders and there is a boy scout troop on the Island as well. Also, check out an organization called Orphans International which is HQed on the Island with an office next to the candy store on Main Street.
If you are interested in tutoring/mentoring, I would suggest contacting the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. or the Child/Legacy High School as well as PS/IS 217.
Please let me know if anyone has any other ideas for volunteer opportunities on Roosevelt Island.

More on the Martin Luther King Day Jr. Day of Service.