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Neighbor to Neighbor: Fund-raisers hold off SE Queens’ winter blues

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After a series of events from Groundhog Day Feb. 2 at the Queens Zoo (the two prairie dog forecasters gave conflicting predictions on whether there would be six more weeks of winter) to two fund-raisers Feb. 13 for Councilman Leroy Comrie (D- St. Albans) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) at Antun's in Queens Village, southeast Queens was gearing up for another round.On Friday, Feb. 25, the Marian Anderson Stamp honoring the first black opera star will be unveiled at Roy Wilkins Park's Black Spectrum Theatre with special guest Postmaster General Jack Potter and Assemblyman Bill Scarborough's (D-Laurelton) will hold a "Winter White Black Tie Affair" fund-raiser. Quite a list and I suspect I missed a few more.I can attest to the success of Councilman Comrie's party because I went with several friends, and met many more there. The Antun's ballroom looked spectacular with the sparkling chandeliers reflecting the colors of the arches and the balloons - red, white and gold. That color scheme was also reflected on the dance floor like jewels under bright spinning lights interspersed here and there with gems of different hues.As the music by DJ Leo Tyrrell "Sound Expressions" played on, some danced and some lined up at the buffet table or bar, making selections from the generous choices available. As Comrie spoke to us, I couldn't help thinking how amazed he makes many of us who live in our area. He has a quiet, unassuming manner but somehow seems to be a participant at every public event and seems to have in-depth knowledge of the topics under discussion. I always look forward to seeing and talking to him and his family, who obviously adore him. The party was also an opportunity to visit with a large number of neighbors and many civic representatives and to applaud honorees for their successes. The master of ceremonies was Richard Gibbs, who introduced Renee Bluford, president of Bluford Insurance Agency, who presented the Unsung Hero Award to Oscar Hopkins, Korean War veteran of the Seventh Infantry Division, 31st Regiment Company C, husband, father of two sons and a daughters, grandfather of six, and popular barber who has employed and encouraged many young men who are now pursuing their own barbering professions.Dr. Rosetta Codling presented the Dr. Wolfe's Educators Award to Jo-Ann and Donnie Whitehead. In gratitude to previous family generations and in hopes of leaving the community and world better than they found it, they created For Our Futures, Inc., where they tutor children and assist other community organizations and family events in various ways.Greta Anderson-Gainor presented the Reginald Lewis Perseverance Award to Bill Jones, who was inspired by Lewis, a Wall Street whiz and author of "Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?" enough to become president or his own company. First Venture Capital Corp., a registered mortgage brokerage firm, is the owner broker of Bill Jones Real Estate. He is a member of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral and involved with Young Men's Rites of Passage as well as many other organizations. He is the father of two sons and a daughter, and is married to Dr. Garceida Jones, a New York University professor, and the chairwoman of the 2/13/05 Leroy Comrie First Annual Valentine's Dinner Dance. She said the Comrie 105 Committee is hoping to raise enough money to make Comrie the next speaker of the City Council. Dr. Robert Jeske, an NYU professor, presented the Pioneer Award to Chelsea Brown, who first appeared on TV on "Rowan and Martins Laugh In." She starred in stage productions of "Sweet Charity" and also appeared in the movie version. She has been in other movie and TV productions. A long list of elected officials including U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks and Anthony Weiner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assemblyman Bill Scarborough, Borough Presidents Helen Marshall and C. Virginia Field, former Bronx Borough President Freddie Ferrer, Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Democratic District Leaders Elmer Blackburne and Jackie Boyce (and some I probably missed) were there to spread good wishes and encouragement around. It was a happy switch.

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