October 15, By Christian Murray
Two long-serving residents will be receiving the Sunnysider of the Year award at the Tangra ballroom (39-23 Queens Blvd) Thursday evening.
Francis Schmidt, who is a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and the Sunnyside/Woodside Lions Club, will be receiving the award for 2013, while Donald McCallian, who runs the community organization known as the United 40s Civic Association, will be the 2014 recipient.
Manny Gomez, president of SunnysideArtists.org, which is sponsoring the award, said the award is given yearly to “a local person who lives or works here for the contribution to the greater good, without regard to faith, fundraising, or politics.”
The award, officially called the Luke Adams’ Sunnysider of the Year award, was first bestowed on Luke Adams in 2011, and last year’s honoree was Queen of Angels pastor Brian Dowd.
“Usually, with our events, we put up posters and race around town to stir up interest,” said Patricia Dorfman, founder of SunnysideArtists.org. “But over 100 tickets were sold in September in four days, and we had to start a waiting list.”
The reason for the big turnout is that people are aware of the decades of unpaid work Schmidt and McCallian have done for the community, Dorfman said. “They keep the Sunnyside-Woodside world spinning on its axis,” she said.
The Sunnyside Drum Corps youths will welcome entering guests, with live jazz playing throughout the course of the evening.
During the award segment, McCallian’s favorite song “God Bless America” will be performed by local opera singer Paula Hostetter, who will also sing “Danny Boy”.
Event committee member Anthony Lodati, of Lowery Wine & Liquors, is donating wine for attendees.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will be handing out the awards to Schmidt and
On hand will be Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Father Jerry Jecewiz, pastor of St. Raphael¹s Church, and Oguzhan Turan, the vice-president of the Turkish Cultural Center.