March 17, 2019 By Christian Murray
The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce has named Patricia Dorfman, a long-time civic activist and artist, as the 2019 Sunnysider of the Year.
The award, officially called the Luke Adams Sunnysider of the Year Award, is handed out each year to an “individual who embodies the spirit of community and commitment to Sunnyside.”
This will be the ninth year that the chamber has given out the award. It was first given to the late Luke Adams, a longtime business owner and civic leader, in 2011 and was named after him.
Last year, Tony Tang, the owner of the UPS store on Queens Boulevard, was the recipient.
Dorfman, a long-time Sunnyside Gardens resident who hails from Alabama, is best known for her recent work as the executive director of Queens Streets for All, an advocacy group that is critical of the DOT for removing a car lane at the eastern end of Skillman Avenue and for reducing the number of parking spaces on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.
Dorfman, who until recently was the executive director of the chamber, founded Sunnyside Artists in 2007, which has an annual art fairs at the Queens of Angels parish center. She is also a founding member of Access Queens, an advocacy group dedicated to holding the MTA accountable for its checkered subway service.
She has also been an advocate of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a bill that’s before the city council that would introduce a form of commercial rent control.
Dorfman has also spearheaded many local initiatives, including the successful restoration of the historic names on local streets and train stations—such as the Bliss, Lowery and Rawson Street stations. She also advocated for the landmarking of Sunnyside Gardens, which went into effect in 2007.
Dorfman was a writer for the Woodside Herald for 18 years, and recently founded a local publication called “Small Town Confidential.” She is a member of Young Israel, a synagogue located on 43rd Avenue, and the Kiwanis of Sunnyside.
This year, the chamber has introduced a new category of awards, known as Queens Rising Stars.
Eric Barthels, the owner of Cooldown Juice on Skillman Avenue, and Roque Rodriguez, co-founder of Suryaside Yoga, a yoga studio located on Skillman Avenue, are the recipients.
Barthels, a longtime Sunnyside resident, is an active member of Queens Streets for All and The Skillman Project, a group dedicated to improving businesses along the commercial strip. He also helped the employees of the businesses that were destroyed in the fire on Queens Boulevard in December.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez is a member of the Skillman Project and Queens Streets for All, and was an organizer for the Skillman Holiday lights event and the Sunnyside Fire Relief Fundraiser.
He has partnered with Jacob Riis in Queensbridge to bring free yoga programs to residents of Queensbridge Houses, and has been working with Liberation Prison Yoga to bring yoga to the inmates and staff at Rikers Island.
The chamber will be celebrating Dorfman, Barthels and Rodriguez on April 2, at its annual awards dinner. The event is being held at Tangra, an Asian-fusion restaurant located at 39-23 Queens Blvd.
Tickets can be purchased online at https://squareup.com/store/sunnyside-chamber) or by contacting [email protected]