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Sunnyside Community Services Celebrates Local Heroes

Julie Schwietert Collazo, named Advocate of the Year award (QueensPost)

April 26, 2019 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Community Services honored hundreds of volunteers at its Annual Volunteer Recognition Celebration last week.

The event, held at the 43-31 39th St. center on April 17, recognized the many people who have contributed service to the organization over the past year. The volunteers help the organization run many of the non-profit’s programs that serve 14,000 people each year.

The volunteers perform a range of tasks from serving meals to seniors, providing administrative support to visiting homebound seniors.

“They provide valuable assistance in a number of areas of our organization,” said Czarinna Andres, Director of Volunteer Services and Community Relations at Sunnyside Community Services. “Their work allows us to continue offering a wide range of programs.”

Michelle Bova, named Friendly Visitor Volunteer of the Year award (Photo: QueensPost)

Judy Zangwill, the executive director of Sunnyside Community Services, thanked the volunteers for finding time to help. Each volunteer received a certificate of recognition and each was given a gift bag.

A dinner was held at the center in their honor.

“Many of you have obligations outside your work here,” Zangwill said. “Many of you have day jobs, yet find the time in weekends and evenings to volunteer. We can’t thank you enough.”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Assembly Member Brian Barnwell were on hand to honor all the volunteers.

“Volunteering is so incredibly important and all of you deserve our thanks,” Van Bramer said. “Your contributions to helping our seniors, our young people and everyone this organization serves… is to be congratulated.”

The evening included a Chinese dance performance from the Flushing group Jinglei Dai & Company and dancing by the Woodside Cornerstone Youth Dance Troupe.

There were six volunteers—all from Queens–who won special awards.

Ernest Jim, a volunteer since 2016, was named the senior center volunteer of the year. His service preparing and serving meals was recognized, as was his demeanor welcoming seniors to the center each day.

Meanwhile, Alam Yasmin received the Adult Day Services Volunteer of the Year award. She received the award for aiding individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Woodside Cornerstone Youth Dance Troupe performs at Volunteer Recognition Celebration (Facebook)

Leonie Wilson was named the Office Support Volunteer of the Year. She spends three days per week performing administrative tasks for the Home Care unit.

The Youth & Family Services Volunteer of the Year award went to Theodore Sweger.

Sweger has been working on the organization’s intergenerational programming, which brings seniors and children together through activities.

Michelle Bova, of Jackson Heights, received the Friendly Visiting Volunteer of the Year award for her regular visits to the home of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease who lives alone.

Bova engages the woman in activities, such as scrabble, and keeps an eye on her.

Meanwhile, the Advocate of the Year award went to Julie Schwietert Collazo, a Long Island City resident. She founded the group Immigrant Families Together (IFT), an organization of rapid response volunteers who fight against immigration policies that have led to family separation and deportations.

Collazo’s group has raised about $1 million, and has posted bond for more than 65 people who have been detained by immigration and separated from their children and families.

Jinglei Dai & Company performs at Volunteer Recognition Celebration (Facebook)

For those interested in volunteering call 718-784-6173 or e-mail

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How about an award for Rick Duro. He personally welcomes every dog to the dog park. Ruff, ruff.

all great except for one things

but I see JVB, the man who killed 25,000 jobs for LIC. He’s no local hero.


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