Danielle De Stefano: Fourth Generation Astorian
By Ilija Sekulovski
Besides running for City Council (which we’ll get to soon!) Danielle’s family has lived in Astoria for a whopping four generations. Her great-grandfather came to the neighborhood in 1912, and built their family home by hand in 1929.
Danielle tells us there’s a reason her family never left Astoria.
“There’s a charm that Astoria has. There’s a family feeling to it. We’ve been here so long that we couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
That deep rooted love for Astoria has given Danielle an attachment to the neighborhood – and that attachment lead her to run for City Council.
“I have a vested interest in the neighborhood. I was born and raised here, and now I’m raising three children here – so I want the neighborhood to be great for them. I also knew that my deep seated loyalty couldn’t be matched by anyone else.”
Danielle looks to the Vallones for inspiration – and believes that they did all they could for the neighborhood, and wants to do the same.
“It was an honor to even see my name on the ballot, but no matter what, my dedication to the community never stops. I continue to be an activist, to be a volunteer, and to be a resident that does all I can for the neighborhood.”
It’s not doubt that Danielle has single-handedly made a change in Astoria. While she herself was growing up, she helped start a volleyball team at Our Lady of Mount Carmel – at just 14.
“We wanted to start the team, but there wasn’t enough faculty. So the older kids, we took over. We coached the younger teams, and that program is still going on today.”
It not only exists – it’s excelling. The volleyball team won best in the Brooklyn-Queens district, and has continued on the same way: kids coaching kids.
“When the children go through the program, they come back to coach once they’re old enough. It teaches them about really being dedicated to something, and more about giving back to the school and their community.”
Along with the original volleyball team, Danielle has worked with different community based teams for the past twenty years. She’s volunteered at the 204 beacon, coached basketball, cheerleading, and boys and girls basketball.
“The important thing is giving kids somewhere to be – keeping them off the streets, and giving them somewhere they really enjoy being. You instill in them this idea of community, and this idea of friendship, and it truly makes a difference in their lives.”
Through her life in Astoria, Danielle has seen lots of changes – both good and bad.
“There’s definitely been big changes. There’s a lot less homes now, and more buildings. The family atmosphere I grew up in, where you knew your neighbor and were close with them, that’s gone. Now, Astoria is like a revolving door. People come and go, and residents are constantly being pushed out by the cost of living.”
It’s not all bad though, Danielle tells us.
“There’s been an explosion of small businesses. When I was growing up, you couldn’t find cafes and pizza stores on every block, but now there’s so much more variety. Hard working people chose our neighborhood to invest in and give back to, and I think that’s great.
That’s my favorite thing about Astoria: There’s nowhere else in the world that has everything you need, so close to you. You can walk and find everything you could possibly want.”
Through talking to Danielle, we understood just how much she truly loves Astoria. She talked excitedly about raising her children here, and all the ways she works to make a difference in the community. With all the ‘revolving door’ residents, it was refreshing to connect with a resident who considers Astoria their forever home – like many of you do, and like we do.
If you ever want her assistance, or just want to know what’s going on in the neighborhood – check Danielle out on Facebook!
“I’m always here for locals,” she tells us, “That’s one thing that’s never going to change – or how much I love the neighborhood.”