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Whitestone group holds first meeting

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A new Whitestone community group held its first meeting last week, bringing together area business leaders, residents and politicians in what will be a monthly ritual.

Welcome to Whitestone, an organization aimed at improving the Whitestone community through service projects, events and entertainment, was started earlier this year by 19-year-old Devon O’Connor as a means to help the community he grew up in and loves.

The group also serves as a marketing tool for local businesses, which will support the group’s initiatives by paying $50-per-year dues and in turn be listed on its website and biannual newsletter as sponsoring members.

“As the businesses sign up to become business members, they’ll be listed under their individual categories,” he said. “It’s like a business-supported community relations group. The businesses will support all the things we do throughout the year — events, shows and community projects.”

A successful entrepreneur even at his age, in February O’Connor and his 17-year-old brother, Logan, restarted Dabby’s Party World, a business their father shuttered four years ago, and since 2007 Devon has run the successful 4Laughs Comedy Entertainment Co., which books and plans comedy shows in Queens. The group’s meetings are held in a large room at Dabby’s.

Welcome to Whitestone arose from a sense of community service O’Connor has long felt. He stages comedy fund-raisers and other events in order to benefit community groups and he and his brother paint over graffiti and do other good works around their neighborhood.

The group’s first project is a $4,000 plan to replace the aging sign welcoming visitors to Whitestone, after which O’Connor hopes to move into planning and hosting events.

“The next step? I’m still raising money. I’ve got about $1,000 so far for the Whitestone sign, and then I hope to do family events and community projects,” he said. “Right now I’m putting together a talent show which I want to do sometime in September.”

If O’Connor’s vision comes to light, his brainchild’s scope will not stop with events and projects. He also wants its meetings to become vital business roundtables and community town hall meetings between residents, business owners and politicians.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and several other politicians attended Friday’s meeting. Meetings will take place the last Friday of every month.

“It went well. Basically, I was just telling everybody what I want to do,” O’Connor said. “I wanted some input from business owners who were there just to get a feel for whether people are interested in what I’m doing.”

For more information, please visit welcometowhitestone.com.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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