By Tammy Scileppi
While longtime Kew Gardens resident Carol Lacks has been described as caring and proactive by her neighbors, she has also gained a reputation as someone who likes to shake things up a bit. As a result of her creative efforts, folks in her neighborhood have benefited in many ways, and the local artistic community has flourished. This, in turn, has made a deep impact on Queens’ cultural landscape.
A parent and retired teacher, Lacks has worked vigorously in the Kew Gardens and Forest Hills areas over the past decade on nearly every kind of community project you can imagine, and always seems to come up with great, out-of-the-box ideas. “Everybody is a story!,” she said.
“In the ‘90s, my interest in community was sparked when I was part of a group that fund-raised for new playground equipment in Sobelsohn Playground in Forest Park. I had a beautiful collaborative experience then and have continued to love community building, especially around the arts.
“As the coordinator of an event or part of a terrific team, I have had the pleasure of encouraging arts and recreation in Kew Gardens and beyond: Murals, Kids Arts in the Park, Community Arts Days, Global Arts Projects, intergenerational art activities, fund-raising for a hunger organization, postcard projects, and photo exhibitions,” Lacks said.
She said each project has “enriched my life deeply as I continue to love bringing residents/families together to have one truly enjoyable day.”
Her efforts have also helped Queens artists by bringing them together to showcase their works at live arts events and art shows she has organized in her area for the past eight years.
These exciting projects and fund-raisers have helped those in need, as well as small businesses, by attracting visitors and livening up neighborhood streets. And while some of her endeavors embrace important causes, others help beautify the area — she helps organize the annual Kew Gardens Planting days and is part of the Kew Gardens Improvement Association.
Lacks believes it is important to keep the borough’s rich history alive. She serves as a board member of Friends of Maple Grove, which hosts Annual Spirits Alive History events illuminating the lives of those who developed Queens and were buried in the historical cemetery.
Last year, she came up with the Kew Gardens Postcard throwback project, based on an old-fashioned concept, which asked residents to submit photos focusing on interesting places, people or pets as part of a series of postcards that depicted the Kew Gardens neighborhood. The completed set was on display at the popular flea market in the fall.
The active community organizer also volunteers her time for the annual Queens Alzheimer’s Walk and runs the annual Kids Art in the Park event, attended by more than 300 children, year after year, and featured in Timeout Magazine.