2018-08-15 / Features

Guest Stars, Locals To Promote Activism At A Better World Festival

People power and star power will be on display at A Better World Festival (ABWF) on Saturday, Aug. 18 from noon to 5 pm. To take place on an entire block in the vicinity of 46th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, the free event will bring together neighborhood residents, merchants, nonprofits, and well-known speakers and performers for a unique celebration of idealism and engagement that will include performances and activities that prove making a difference can be a lot of fun.

Ellis Rubin, 13, who earned critical raves as a young P.T. Barnum in the 2017 film, “The Greatest Showman,” will be the ringmaster. The Queens native Photo Kamila Harris Hallie Geier. A Better World Festival sponsored by Sunnyside Shines, the Love Hallie Foundation, and NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18 from noon to 5 pm on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside. is an active member of Hallie’s Angels, the youth action branch of the Love, Hallie Foundation. He will work with Sunnyside native Molly Martin, 17, who is managing the entire ABWF event with a group of young volunteers. (Proof that you’re never too young to make a difference.)

The program will feature dramatic readings by youth activists and a special performance of Hallie Geier’s writings by best friends Barbara Feldon and Buddy Mantia. Feldon created the role of Agent 99 in the 1960s television series “Get Smart,” and Mantia is best known for his numerous TV appearances and performances with the comedy ensemble, The Untouchables.

There will be youth and family activities at the festival, which is sponsored by Sunnyside Shines, the Love Hallie Foundation, and NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office. Kids will have opportunities to sing, dance, and be creative with local arts groups, and representatives of more than a dozen non-profits will be on hand to engage and inform. For example, Chess in the Schools youth volunteers will offer free chess instruction, and Do Something will register voters.

“The spirit of Sunnyside is the kind of attitude that can create a better future—uniting people of all ages and backgrounds who care about their neighbors, their country, and the world,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of Sunnyside Shines (www.sunnysideshines.org), the local business improvement district.

“We have been organizing rallies and events to engage people in creating positive change,” said Council Member Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside. “People want to get involved and help their neighborhood and their neighbors. So, we’ve asked non-profits who welcome volunteers, especially young people, to share those opportunities at the festival. We're thrilled to welcome all to join us for an exciting day, to get motivation and information that will improve communities across the city and the lives of people everywhere.”

The inspiration for ABWF is Hallie Geier, a prolific writer and youth activist who lived in Sunnyside for all of her 11 years of life. (She died in a car accident in front of her house.) Her favorite themes were the value of kindness, empathy, and positive action. Her family established the Love, Hallie Foundation (www.lovehallie.org) and Hallie’s Angels to spread her message and encourage young people to engage with causes they care about.

“The Earth,” a book written by Hallie at age six with illustrations by Casey Conselmo, will be released at ABWF.

“Hallie felt that she could make a difference. She always wanted to do something special,” said her father, Ted Geier. “I know people will be inspired to take action when Barbara, Ellis, and others read her encouraging words at the festival.”

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