By Connor Adams Sheets
Whitestone’s new civic group has been officially granted nonprofit status, quieting concerns by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) that the group has been improperly collecting funds.
The Welcome to Whitestone Commercial and Residential Civic Association, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, has finally completed the process of achieving official nonprofit status, according to its 20-year-old founder, Whitestone native Devon O’Connor. Avella did not reply to requests for comment.
“Everything is legit now,” he said. “Everything was in the process. Now I have all the paperwork, everything is good to go. It’s now a nonprofit organization.”
O’Connor said the new status does not change the mission of the group, which has hosted fund-raisers for the Whitestone Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps and St. Mary’s Hospital for Children and has held several community events in the northeast Queens neighborhood.
“Basically, what we’re going to do is we’re going to be raising funds from businesses and residents and we’ll be doing everything we’ve been doing, which is fund-raising events for different groups and different family fun events,” he said.
Before attaining full nonprofit status, O’Connor raised thousands of dollars from business members as well as residents for his events and to replace the aging Welcome to Whitestone sign at the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard, the Cross Island Parkway service road and Locke Avenue, for which his group was named. He says all the money was properly accounted for and recorded and that the funds all went toward community projects and fund-raising.
But Avella has raised concerns that O’Connor may face legal trouble if he did not properly handle that money, according to Avella spokesman Ed Fleming and O’Connor.ï»¿
“Tony Avella told my grandparents that someone should look into Devon’s finances, that maybe [I] was doing the organization wrong,” O’Connor said last month. “I haven’t done anything wrong, my lawyer says I haven’t done anything wrong, so I have no idea what the problem is.”
The civic recently received the completed Welcome to Whitestone sign replacement, and it will be unveiled and installed at a date in the near future to be determined by the city Parks Department, O’Connor said. It also recently overhauled its website, welcometowhitestone.com.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.