The Guy Who’s Always At Your Service
by Nancy A. Ruhling
Jun 29, 2017 | 70 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jaime opened Nicole’s Cleaners five years ago.
Jaime opened Nicole’s Cleaners five years ago.
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Nicole’s offers of help.
Nicole’s offers of help.
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Jairo, Jaime’s father, works in the shop on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Jairo, Jaime’s father, works in the shop on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
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It was a driver’s license that determined Jaime Jinete’s future. Jaime, the owner of Nicole’s Cleaners, didn’t know much English when he came to America, but he was fluent when it came to the language of cars. Before he can elaborate, a man in a suit comes in to drop off six dress shirts. Jaime and his father, Jairo Blanco, greet him by name and tag the garments. This gives us time to look around. The storefront, a walk-in closet sandwiched between a barber shop and a computer emergency room, consists of a front counter just big enough for Jaime and Jairo to stand behind without bumping elbows and four metal racks of clean clothes hanging in plastic bags arranged in alphabetical order. Nicole’s, which offers dry cleaning, laundry and tailoring services, may be small, but it has a big heart. A piece of paper affixed to the front window tells customers that an unemployed person who needs an outfit cleaned for a job interview can get it done at Nicole's for free. OK, where were we? We were all the way back in 2000 when Jaime arrived in New York City from the Colombia port city of Barranquilla with little money and large dreams. “I had visited other cities in America,” he says, “but I would always choose New York over all.” His two sisters were already here, and Jairo and his wife, Margarita León, joined the family in 2012. Jaime, a tall man with the round face of a boy, needed a job right away, an idea that he could barely articulate in the confounding mother tongue of his new country. Somehow, he found out that driver’s licenses were issued expeditiously and sped to get one. He ended up behind the wheel of a dry cleaner’s truck. This was not what he had had in mind. In Barranquilla, he had earned a business degree from Universidad Autonoma de Caribe. He had taken classes at night and worked at a bank during the day. But he didn’t mind — he was making American dollars! Soon, he was working inside the dry cleaning factory, then managing a store. “I learned all about the business that way,” he says. Five years ago, he opened Nicole’s, which is named for his nine-year-old daughter, and moved it to 34th Street two years later when the building he was in was sold. The business, which cleans 23,000 garments per year, attracts customers from as far away as the Ditmars area and Woodside. “I’m not doing anything new or different from any other dry cleaner,” Jaime says. “I’m giving good service and relying upon technology.” Jaime creates electronic profiles that detail the cleaning preferences of each customer (do you want your shirts folded or put on hangers?), and payments are made via credit card. “We make it fast,” he says, “so people can drop things off before work and pick up on the way home.” Bottom of Form A young woman bearing a skinny-strap hot-pink blouse steps in. Jaime says hello; like all his customers, he knows her name. She drops the top and dashes back out into the rain. There are others, however, who are not in such a hurry. “Some people come in and talk to me for hours,” Jaime says, “and I listen.” Nicole’s labels, issued by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, are pale pink. “When we opened, my aunt had just been diagnosed with the disease,” Jaime says. “I could have had tags with the shop’s name on them, but when I buy these, 5 percent of the money I pay for them goes to the foundation.” In the beginning, Jaime worked by himself. Jairo, who commutes from his apartment in Port Washington, helps him out on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A young woman takes over in the afternoons. He doesn’t mind the 45-minute ride from Long Island. In Colombia, Jairo ran employee training workshops and seminars and gave speeches before hundreds of people. He didn’t know anyone was going to take his picture today and has to be persuaded to pose. He finally agrees, but only after he buttons a pinstriped dress shirt over his dark green sweater. He thinks he looks more dignified in it. The extra help is necessary because Jaime’s wife, Adriana Rocio González Vergara, just had a baby, and he wants to be a doting father to Abigail Rose. Someday, there may be a second shop named for her. “I don’t want to have a bigger store,” Jaime says. “I would like to branch out and have a bunch of small shops.” Jaime’s “free-cleaning” sign has attracted a lot of attention since he put it up in January. “I always wanted to do it, but it took me a while because in the beginning I couldn’t afford it,” he says. “I put my savings into the business, and I struggled for the first two years. I saw the sign in another store, and I felt it would be nice to be able to help people in the neighborhood I live in.” His offer is honor-based. “I don’t ask for documentation,” he says. “If you need it, just ask me.” So far, nobody has taken advantage of his generosity. Nancy A. Ruhling can be reached at nruhling@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyruhling and visit astoriacharacters.com.
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DiBiaso remembered as avid park user
by Mark Garzon
Jun 29, 2017 | 31 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Astoria street named after hit-and-run victim An intersection by Astoria Park will forever honor Betty Jean DiBiaso, an Astoria teen who was killed in a hit-and-run incident in 2015. Last Friday, elected officials, family and friends of DiBiaso gathered for a street co-naming ceremony at 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard. They remembered DiBiaso as a teen who enjoyed spending time at the park walking her dogs and feeding squirrels. “She loved Astoria probably more than anybody that I know,” said Sara Rotger, DiBiaso’s friend who advocated for the street to be renamed. DiBiaso was killed on June 27, 2015, while crossing a street next to Astoria Park. Her death increased awareness about traffic safety around the park for pedestrians. It was also the impetus for turning Shore Boulevard into a one-way street. “She didn’t die in vain,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides. “Her tragic death ignited a conversation about safety in this park and what we can do better.” Constantinides said additional features, such as daylighting and additional speed bumps, are being considered along with a traffic light, which was previously denied by the city. “We’ve already lost a life here,” he said, “we should never have to lose another one.” Rotger said that their work was not finished, and reminded the audience about the importance of keeping pedestrians safe. “I hope this may serve to remind everyone that their decisions matter,” she said. “Consequences come with every action and we just need to be more mindful.”
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Auto Accident Lawyers Atlanta by PavelKocian
Legal Services
Jun 29, 2017 | 188 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Auto Accident Lawyers Atlanta
by PavelKocian
Jun 29, 2017 | 2 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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