By Madina Toure
Elected officials joined volunteers from Pomonok Houses and Queens College in Flushing to clean up the grounds around the Pomonok Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) helped rake up leaves at the housing complex’s Pomonok Community Center Monday morning. The city Department of Sanitation provided rakes, tools and trash bags to the volunteers.
The MLK Day of Service, a national event, honors the legacy of King. Simanowitz stressed the importance of getting people involved in their communities.
“I want to commend Monica and the Queens College students, the Pomonok Residents Association for really demonstrating in the best possible way what Dr. King’s legacy meant for our community here in Queens,” he said, referring to Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association.
Corbett echoed similar sentiments.
“The Pomonok MLK Community Clean-Up is an early start for residents and our community neighbors to help and assist in the beautification of our grounds,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”
Stavisky, who came to the cleanup before heading off to the labor rally by airport workers from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports in East Elmhurst, said the cleanup symbolized Dr. King’s message and philosophy.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor Martin Luther King’s memory and his legacy than participating in a community affair,” she said.
Lancman said MLK Day is unique in that it is celebrated in a variety of ways, citing the airport workers’ rally and a poetry slam at a church he attended last week.
“I think by serving the community this morning we were both honoring his legacy and his contribution to this country, but also as I am sure he would have wanted us … continue the march toward justice because we’re not there yet obviously,” he said.
Queens College student Sharice Richards, a 26-year-old South Ozone Park resident, became an activist after a college MLK trip to Atlanta last year.
“I definitely wanted to do something and I always wanted to volunteer and get involved with the Pomonok Residents Association,” Richards said.
Latoya McLeod, community affairs officer for the Housing Bureau at the NYPD’s Police Service Area 9 at 155-09 Jewel Ave., said police officers also engage in community service.
“Most people always think about it (the NYPD) in terms of crime, but we also help in terms of just recreating his legacy and just trying to live up to that as police officers, whether that means cleaning up, whether that means speaking to the youths, whatever it is,” McLeod said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour