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Sunnyside-Woodside Boys & Girls Club in the Works

Get used to hearing the name Mark Wilensky. He is a life long Sunnysider and sports fan who is on a crusade to raise millions of dollars.

Wilensky is in the early stages of establishing a local Boys and Girls club. The club would provide drug counselors, abuse counselors, sports activities (from swimming, basketball to dancing) as well as computers and movies.  It would cater primarily to 6 to 17 year olds.

“It’s time for people to step up,” Wilensky, a long-time Lions Club member, said. “In summer I saw kids in the different parks, playing basketball and doing other sports. But when winter comes, there is nothing for them to do.”

He said teenagers have a limited array of affordable options. There is the Sunnyside Drum Corps, basketball at St. Raphael’s for 5 to 14 year olds and the cub scouts at St. Teresa’s.

Wilensky recently established the “Variety Sunnyside-Woodside Boys & Girls Club” committee. Members include Jimmy Dillon (former Community Board 2 leader), Brent O’Leary, Vincent Renda, Frank Abreu, James L. Arbona, Eddie Avlla, Edwin Aviles, Jessica Burch, Eduardo Diaz, Paula Hostetter and Marvin Jeffcoat.

The group had its first steering committee meeting on Oct. 29th. It will be meeting again on December 10th to map out a strategy to begin its fundraising drive. “We are going to need everyone to get the funds,” Wilensky said.

Jimmy Van Bramer, this neighborhood’s councilman-elect, assured Wilensky at a recent United Forties civic meeting that he would support the group.

Wilensky said the club would cater to all groups—from the well-off to the poor. “These are hard times and many parents can’t afford to send their children to the types of activities the Boys and Girls club would provide.”

He said that a Boys and Girls club could put troubled youths on the right track.

Wilensky coached Edison Vera (who was fatally shot last month on 48th Street) basketball when he was a young boy. “I spoke to Edison’s dad at his wake, and we thought if there had been a boys’ club for him to go to, this might not have happened.”

Wilensky said there are two Boys and Girls clubs in Queens at present; one in Astoria, the other in Richmond Hill.

The club in Astoria, called the Variety Boys and Girls Club, is as elaborate as the one that Wilensky seeks. And he wants the membership dues to be the same; a mere $12 per year.

For more information call: 

Mark Wilensky at 718-937-2648 or Jim Dillion at 718-663-1314.

email the author: [email protected]


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Elizabeth Owens

I do agree that this Boys & Girls Club would be a great asset to the Sunnyside/Woodside community. It would steer kids in this community in the right direction as opposed to a potential life of drugs and/or violence. No one knows what path someone will take but with the guidance of counselors, etc. they may make a difference in someone’s life, which is very precious………..
Unfortunately I know to well…… I lost my brother Tommy is a horrible car accident last May 29, 2009 on Laurel Hill Boulevard. Him and 2 others were killed that night. I know now that there was nothing I could do to prevent it but I do think about him on a daily basis and have been thinking about a memorial for him this coming May.
I think he would have supported this cause as well. So if there is anything I can do on my end, donations, etc. please contact me. Thank you.


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