BY TRONE DOWD
Manny Fiallo Jr., the Far Rockaway man who dedicated the last 12 years of his life to making his hometown a better place, was immortalized on Monday morning by family, friends, police and elected officials who worked alongside him in his mission.
The corner of 22nd Street and Mott Avenue will now be known as Manuel “Manny” Fiallo Jr. Way. Fiallo died in May from a rare blood disease known as Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP). His death was a devastating blow to the community. The street renaming was proposed by Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) at City Hall shortly after his death. Richards often worked with Fiallo on his countless initiatives in Far Rockaway.
According to those who knew him, Fiallo worked tirelessly to save lives from being lost on the streets of the often forgotten portion of Southeast Queens. After the murder of rising Far Rockaway hip-hop star Stack Bundles in 2007, Manny took a stand against violence.
“Those of us who spent a lot of time with Manny, we know that he never looks for accolades, he never looked for his picture in the paper,” Richards said on Monday. “He did what was right for this community because he wanted to do what was right.”
Manny’s efforts manifested itself in various community oriented activities, starting off with his “Stack Bundles Stop the Violence Basketball” tournament in 2012. The summer-long event gave young people an athletic and fun outlet to express themselves, but also kept them off the streets doing something productive with their peers. The event features various resources for participants and audience members, including GED Information, job readiness programs and information for college preparation.
The tournament marked the beginning of his numerous signature events. Forging partnerships with the 101st Precinct, Richards, Assemblywomen Michele Titus (D-South Ozone Park) and Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) and others, Manny become the mediator between the people of Far Rockaway and those trying to make it a better place.
“I don’t think people realize how important that is,” Richards continued. “The police have a job to do, day in and day out. To keep this community safe. But they can’t do it alone. When you look at many of the initiatives that were put in place in this community, from the Stack Bundles basketball tournament to his Stop the Violence women’s league and his efforts during Thanksgiving, these were all things that he put in place. He gave his heart, his soul and, quite frankly, his life. He looked out for everyone here while never looking out for himself. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”
Manny’s sister, Mercedes Vega, said that she was honored that the community would do something so thoughtful in memory of her brother.
“He loved people,” she said. “We were always united because that’s how our family raised us.”
Other events Fiallo organized included the Do it For Domo Talent/Fashion Show, the Break Every Chain: A Move Meant for Change annual sleepover, Annual Teen/Adult Job Fair, various community health fairs, the Unity in the Community Talent Show, Toys for Tots Christmas toy drive, Santa Sleigh Parade, National Night Out and the annual Turkey Giveaway during the holidays.
Last year was a historic one for the Rockaways. It saw its lowest amount of shootings on record in history for the entire peninsula.