Queens Impact Awards to honor boro’s unsung heroes

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More than two dozen people who have helped shape Queens over the years will be honored at TimesLedger Newspapers’ inaugural Queens Impact Awards May 15.

At a dinner to be held at Douglaston Manor, at 63-20 Commonwealth Blvd., 27 borough heroes will be recognized for the work they have done behind the scenes as volunteers and professionals to make life better for people in Queens. Winners were chosen based on nominations from a six-member committee and the TimesLedger staff to represent the entire borough.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside), who made history in 2012 when she was elected as New York state’s first Asian-American congressional member, will serve as the guest speaker.

Andrea Adams, a Douglaston resident, was chosen for her volunteer work in Jamaica Hills, and Bayside resident Susan Agin was selected for the decade she has spent as executive and artistic director of the Queensborough Performing Arts Center.

Bellerose couple Ronnie and Hank Arond were acknowledged as winners for the volunteer work they have done in Bellerose, and Jamaica Hills teacher Carl Ballenas will be awarded for keeping Queens’ history alive by working with the Richmond Hill Historical Society.

Filmmaking couple Don and Katha Cato, of Jackson Heights, were cited for organizing the Queens World Film Festival, while Long Island City restaurant owner Gianna Cerbone-Teoli will be awarded for the assistance she gave to her neighbors after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The Rev. Philip Craig won for his work as senior pastor at the Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica, and in Bayside longtime Sacred Heart Church parishioner Virginia DeMillio will be tapped for the 31 years she has spent coordinating the church’s Meals on Wheels program.

Carmine DeSena was chosen for the more than three decades he has dedicated to Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, and Lakia Echols, of Far Rockaway, will be recognized for founding the Make My Mother Proud youth program.

Audra Fordin is an auto mechanic who runs the Women Auto Know nonprofit in Flushing, and Lily Gavin, a Sunnyside restaurant owner, advocates for other small businesses by serving on various foundation boards.

Lucy Hossain, of Flushing, is a bank manager who has volunteered with several organizations, and Mandy Gor Kelso was chosen as a winner for organizing an arts program for children at the Ridgewood YMCA.

Kwanghee Kim is a winner for founding the Korean American Family Services Center in 1985 and helping victims of domestic violence. Tenor Andrew Kosloski was selected for founding The Josephine Foundation and Dr. Joseph Lieber, of Elmhurst, will be honored for teaching about the medical field.

Rockaway Beach resident Salvatore Lopizzo was chosen as a winner for his work to help the neighborhood recover from Sandy in 2012. Greg Mays, an activist in Jamaica, will be honored for his volunteer work in the community, and Sunnyside bar owner Michael McCreesh was chosen as a winner for raising funds for charity through his business.

Carly Rose Nieves, the youngest honoree, is a cancer survivor who organizes a yearly blood drive at her Middle Village high school. Rodney Pride, of southeast Queens, has served as a mentor to young African Americans for years as a social worker.

Hakeem Rahim was selected for his work as a motivational speaker on mental illness, and George Subraj is president of a fund that helps the Indo-Guyanese community. Mandingo Tshaka, of Bayside, won for his activism that helped improve the quality of the neighborhood.

Tickets for the event, which runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., are $90 and can be purchased by calling 718-260-4521.