By Rebecca Henely
More than 100 people and elected officials past and present turned out at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Jackson Heights last Thursday to honor the North Queens Homeowners Association for its 70th anniversary.
“Without you, none of this would be possible,” civic association President Donna Raymond told the visitors.
To celebrate the anniversary, members of the Jackson Heights-based civic both recognized influential members and looked back on their long history within the neighborhood at a ceremony at the school, at 30th Avenue and 75th Street in Jackson Heights.
“So much history has come through the North Queens Homeowners Association,” said state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights), who presented the group with a proclamation recognizing the anniversary.
Begun in 1940 and formally incorporated in 1941 by resident Max Leavy, the group was created to consider and take action on all issues affecting Jackson Heights, foster and obtain neighborhood information, act against undesirable factors and cultivate friendship and goodwill among members, Raymond said.
When started, the organization consisted of nine families and at its most popular grew to 1,500 families, Raymond said. The membership now currently stands at around 200 members and about 50 to 60 people attend its meetings every month.
“It was unbelievable to think that it started from nine families,” Raymond said.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) also presented a formal proclamation to the civic, saying Raymond has been an important resource to him when he was in office.
“It’s absolutely amazing to see the work that you have done here in our community,” Dromm said of the association.
Other visitors included state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), former Community Board 3 Chairman Walter Marx, former Councilwoman Helen Sears — who also said Raymond had been crucial when she was in office — and former Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette, who was once a member and was presented with a younger picture of himself from one of the civic’s old newspapers.
“This group taught me to understand what community is,” Lafayette said.
Another recognized visitor was Rolf Eilhauer, who was chairman of the association’s board in the mid-1980s and now lives in Chicago. He said he came back to his old home for the ceremony and said he often tells stories of working with the association.
“Even in Chicago, your name is known,” Eilhauer said.
The association also took out the time to remember member Madeline Poli, 102, who died the day of the ceremony.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.