By Debbie Cohen
The Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. recently held its 35th anniversary dinner-dance at The Woodhaven Manor in Woodhaven honoring six people of distinction, which included U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) as Woman of the Year; Mathew Xenakis, president of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, as Man of the Year; and Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, for Award of Distinction.
George Smith, owner of Lifetime Vending Amusements, received an Honorary Woodhavenite Award, while Awards of Appreciation went to state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).
Evelyn Cruz, congressional liaison for Velazquez, accepted her plaques, flowers and citations from GWDC, Addabbo and other elected officials because she was not able to make an appearance due to preparation for the Puerto Rican Day parade.
“The congresswoman thanks everyone for their support, including the wonderful GWDC,” Cruz said.
Maria Thomson, executive director of the GWDC, along with Stephen Esposito, presented the awards to the honorees.
“Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico, was one of nine children and was the first in her family to receive a college degree,” Thomson said. “She was the first Latino to serve on the New York City Council and is a fighter for economic development and quality education.”
Sautner had Danielle Raia, executive officer of the 102nd, accept his award in his absence. Thomson said he was honored because of his sincere appreciation and dedication to the community.
Thomson also said Smith gave of himself whenever he had the chance.
“Smith was honored for his charitable spirit and for always giving back to the community,” Thomson said. “Miller and Addabbo received their awards because of their public service to the community and working to improve quality of life.”
The event concluded with Esposito thanking Xenakis for his dedication to the Woodhaven business strip and for serving Woodhaven as a business owner of Park Place Florist since 1987.
Before people left, prizes and a 50/50 cash prize were raffled off.