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Woodhaven group works hard to service neighborhood

The Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. recently celebrated its 30th anniversary by holding its annual dinner−dance at Woodhaven Terrace Caterers in Woodhaven. Special guest Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped by to wish the four honorees and the GWDC good luck.

The honorees were man of the year 2009 state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach); business owner of the year Dr. Dennis Pazos, director of the Richaven Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center; service award winner Maureen Bermingham; and lawyer Joseph Schmidt, the GWDC founding director.

Golden oldies doo−wop group the Four Pops performed and livened up the crowd. Before Bloomberg had some food at the buffet, he made a point about photos while congratulating the GWDC.

“Years ago, nobody wanted my photo, now as mayor everyone does,” said Bloomberg.

In 2002, when Addabbo was a councilman, he was honored by the GWDC. Now he is a senator. He said the GWDC has helped Woodhaven in its many endeavors.

Pazos said his career calling came when he had a severe back injury in high school. He knew he had to help people by becoming a chiropractor and acupuncturist. His father also inspired him through his good work ethic and still works as a caterer in New York at age 85.

“Woodhaven has a small−town atmosphere,” Pazos said. “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.”

Bermingham has worked as a secretary and office manager for the GWDC since 1996 and thanked it and its executive director, Maria Thomson, for recognizing her efforts for so many years. She has lived in Woodhaven for 50 years and calls Thomson the “mayor of Woodhaven.”

“Life is a journey, not a destination,” Bermingham said. “I am glad to have this opportunity.”

Bermingham received a special certificate of appreciation from Borough President Helen Marshall and several citations and proclamations from elected officials, including state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−Richmond Hill), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village), U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D−Ridgewood), Councilman Eric Ulrich (D−Howard Beach) and Addabbo.

Schmidt, who has three children, supported and founded the GWDC 30 years ago and calls Woodhaven “a haven in the city.” He said he was proud at what the corporation turned out to be: an organization about helping others and beautifying the neighborhood.

GWDC President Stephen Esposito presented plaques and flowers to all the honorees.

The honorees, along with Thomson and Esposito, have worked hard for the Woodhaven community to make it stand out within the borough.

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