By Debbie Cohen
On May 16, the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. held its 29th annual dinner-dance at La Bella Vita in Ozone Park honoring state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) as Woman of the Year. Fedele Bianchi, owner of F & J Carpet in Woodhaven, was honored as Man of the Year and Dr. Anthony DeSano, the Center for Alternative Medicine director, was honored as Business Owner of the Year.
In addition, community organization the Woodhaven Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps was picked as an honoree.
But before the honorees were announced, doo-wop group The Four Pops entertained with golden oldies tributes.
Maria Thomson, the GWDC executive director, presented a plaque to Pheffer for her dedication to the south Queens community and hopes she will be the next borough president. Pheffer currently chairs the state Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee and is also busy raising two children in the Rockaways.
“My job has always been to serve the public,” Pheffer said. “We have a lot of Woodhaven volunteers, which help strengthen the community. The GWDC has made my job easier over the many years that I have served as an elected official.”
Bianchi was born in Italy, where he worked as a police officer. In 1964, he got married and immigrated to Woodhaven, where he worked for a local carpet store. He then opened F & J Carpet in Woodhaven and has been in business for over 25 years.
Stephen Esposito, GWDC's president, gave two proclamations to Bianchi, one each from state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach). An award from the GWDC was also presented to Bianchi, who thanked his family for his success in America.
“Bianchi wears his heart on his sleeve,” Esposito said as Bianchi danced around the room in a hat and wig. “He had an exciting life in Italy, including escorting the pope in 1962 while serving as a policeman.”
The Woodhaven Richmond Hill Volunteer Corps started 40 years ago on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, where it has been ever since. An award was also presented to the corps from the GWDC, Maltese and Addabbo. The corps said it needed additional volunteers to keep it going for another 40 years.
According to DeSano, he has been practicing as a health and wellness expert for the last 13 years. He is an osteopathic doctor of alternative therapies, which includes chiropractic care. He started to practice as a chiropractor at only 23. He said he is blessed to be around great patients and a supportive family.
“I realized things were different in Woodhaven and it was a tight-knit community,” DeSano said. “So I decided that Woodhaven is where I wanted to be and set up a practice.”
Thomson presented DeSano with a certificate of appreciation in addition to proclamations from Addabbo and Maltese.
The GWDC formed in 1979 with the hope of making positive changes in Woodhaven by making it a viable shopping community, according to Thomson. An additional award was presented to the GWDC from the city comptroller's office.
“Great people do not just help a community for money, but they do it because they love the community they are working in, such as Maria Thomson and everyone involved in the GWDC,” said city comptroller spokesman Walter Roundtree.