By Howard Koplowitz
Community Board 8 member Marc Haken was nominated for the Brooke Russell Astor Award, which is given by the New York Public Library to an “unsung hero” of the city, it was announced during CB 8’s meeting last week.
Haken, a Hollis civic leader who has been involved in community affairs for decades, was nominated for the honor by state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows).
The award, which was first given in 1987 as part of an endowment to the New York Public Library by David Rockefeller and comes with a $10,000 cash prize, has previously been given to a New York City detective, an immigrants right advocate and a lead poisoning prevention advocate among others, according to the New York Public Library web site. The award’s namesake is the late New York socialite and philanthropist and the award is named in her honor.
“Given annually, the Brooke Russell Astor Award honors an unsung hero or heroine, someone whose unrelenting efforts and tireless dedication to this city have contributed substantially to its betterment,” the web site said.
The library solicits nominations for the award from more than 400 individuals and organizations, ranging from cultural groups and foundations to elected officials and community groups.ï»¿
Aside from being a CB 8 member, where he chairs the Youth, Education and Library Committee, Haken, 68, has been the president of Hilltop Village Co-Op No. 4 and the president of Friends of Cunningham Park — both for 20 years.
“I’m involved in a million different things,” Haken said during a phone interview Friday. “I stick fingers all over, but I’m an active member. Anything I’m involved in I’m an active member.”
As president of Friends of Cunningham Park, an organization Haken said he is most proud of, the civic leader said he secured thousands of dollars in equipment and programming, including summer concerts and movies and senior programs.ï»¿
The civic leader has also donated thousands of dollars in books to the Queens Library and helped create Beacon programs, which are after-school programs,ï»¿ across the city.
Haken also helped the borough’s Sikh community donate books on Sikh culture to the Queens Library to counteract prejudice after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Sikhs were sometimes subject to violence by people who mistakenly identified them as Muslims.
When asked what he would do if he won the award, Haken said, “Probably fall over.”
Haken said he would donate a portion of the funds to the Queens Library Fund and also give part of it to the Queens Youth and Senior Funding Corp., which he formed years ago as a response to cuts to youth and senior programs.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.