Astoria youth honored for their community service

Courtesy of Athena Dawson

Ten young adults in Astoria were honored for their community service as part of the HANAC Astoria Cornerstone Program last month.

On Feb. 21st, 10 participants of the HANAC Astoria Cornerstone Program were honored for their leadership and community service. The program, which caters to about 250 young adults, is geared toward residents of the NYCHA Astoria Houses apartment complex and offers after school programs designed to encourage self-advocacy, while boosting self-worth. The program takes place at the Astoria Houses Community Center located at 4-05 Astoria Blvd.

The award ceremony, held at the center, was sponsored by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) in collaboration with the Astoria Houses Resident Association. The honorees were given certificates as family and friends joined them to celebrate their achievements. 

State Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, Council Member Tiffany Caban and community advocates praised the young leaders for their commitment to their community. 

During the award ceremony, Venus Bermudez-Oviedo, associate director of youth programs at HANAC, expressed her admiration for the recipient’s positive impact on their community. 

“Their ability to express themselves, positively engage with the community around them, and build strong relationships with friends and mentors are skills that we believe will make a long-term impact on their lives and their goals for themselves.” she said.

Rafael Santana, program director, and Traequan Middleton, assistant program director, were also awarded certificates for their dedication towards mentoring vulnerable youth in Astoria. 

During the program, representatives from the NYCHA Lead & Abatement Unit and the New York Power Authority held presentations. After the ceremony, the representatives went on a walking tour of the hydroponic science lab located at the center.

The Cornerstone program was founded by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to create year-round programs for youth ages 5-24 that live in NYCHA housing developments.

The HANAC Astoria Cornerstone program supports youth living in public housing in Astoria, Queens. Programs at the center include the HANAC Together We Rise Dance Company, The Young Men’s Initiative, and a Hydroponic Science Lab.