Community Board 9 honors member and Kew Gardens native for 50 years of public service

community board 9
Council Member Lynn Schulman (left) and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (center) stand with Sylvia Hack as they honor her 50 years of public service on Community Board 9.
Photo by Anthony Medina

A Community Board 9 monthly meeting on Tuesday, Apr. 9, turned into a night of recognition for one board member who has served on the board as a prime example of public servitude in its highest form for 50 years.

The Helen Marshall Cultural Center, inside of Queens Borough Hall, seated a gallery of local elected officials and representatives Tuesday night, with each holding certificates and special awards for Community Board 9 Member Sylvia Hack.

One by one, each Queens figurehead — including Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Council Member Lynn Schulman, Assemblymember David Weprin and State Senator Leroy Comrie — all shared words of admiration for Hack’s decades-long commitment to the community.

“I feel like I’m in the presence of royalty tonight,” Adams said, adding that many of the elected officials who once served on their community boards relied on Hack’s leadership for guidance.

Schulman took the time to reflect on her first encounter with Hack as she ran for office in 2001, and how their interactions helped her become better versed in community needs. Schulman even referenced Hack’s personal life as an extra in a widely known piece of cinema history.

“I want to say that you were an extra on A Miracle on 34th Street, but you’re our miracle in Kew Gardens,” Schulman added.

As the night progressed, it became clear that although small in stature, Hack has made her voice heard throughout the entirety of her time at Community Board 9 and continues to set the example for public servants to come.

Sylvia Hack has been serving on Community Board 9 for 50 years. Photo by Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit

The community board veteran, while still finding the time to shed a light on a couple of current issues, recognized a world riddled with problems that she says simple community advocacy could solve.

“I think that a lot of problems can be helped in every community where there is a sense of community and people who come together and work together to solve problems and move to the next step,” Hack said, thanking everyone present for their support.

Hack first joined Community Board 9 in April 1974, at a time when an office didn’t yet exist, the board recalled. Gathering in each other’s homes and public spaces for meetings, Hack acted as chair of a Joint Cable Committee of Queens just as cable television became widespread throughout the city.

Later into her time at CB9, Hack became chair of the board from 1991-2000, with the exception of 1992, the board went on to share with meeting attendees.

A cake in honor of Sylvia Hack’s 50 years of public service at Community Board 9 features the Kew Gardens native at the historic Neir’s Tavern. Photo by Anthony Medina

Additionally, Hack has lived in Kew Gardens for 60 years and became a founder of the Kew Gardens Improvement Association. The board recognized also Hack’s 60 years of marriage as a testament to her unyielding commitment.

The Land Use Committee is where Hack has spent most of her time in recent years, where she is said to be the driving force for keeping tabs on the neighborhood happenings.

Hack also paid homage to her colleagues Murray and Carol Berger, who were also steadfast advocates for Kew Gardens. Last year, the intersection of Kew Gardens Road and 83rd Avenue was named after the two community leaders.

“I learned a lot from both of them.” Hack said, sharing how their legacy further highlighted the importance of getting involved in the division making that impacts the community.

Community Board 9 Chair Sherry Algredo shares her admiration for Sylvia Hack and explains that although she knew Hack did not want an event, she still needed to honor her legacy. Photo by Anthony Medina

Joining Hack’s celebration towards the end of the speeches were her two sons, who talked about how their mom helped motivate their public service efforts and kept problems away from Kew Gardens.

Although the festivities were over, the board meeting continued with its agenda, while a large cake dedicated to Hack was cut and passed out to board members. Hack remained for the entirety of the meeting, focused on the topics at hand.