What's Happening in Woodhaven
by Maria Thomson
Jul 18, 2012 | 2114 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s hot, hot, hot! What a rough summer we are experiencing. In actuality, it began early and very hot and has continued into a constant heat wave. In this sunny, over-95 degree weather, as I stated before, our Forest Parkway Library is a designated cooling center, located at 85-41 Forest Parkway, open Monday-Friday, closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Also at our library, lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Monday through Friday to all youth under the age of 18. Please call (718) 849-1010 for more information.

In this heat, please water our street trees. If you have a tree in front of your home or store please water them. (You can use the water from your air conditioners.)

Last week, Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and Woodhaven Business Improvement District board members were invited to Gracie Mansion for the 2012 Neighborhood Achievement Awards. It was a lovely reception on the lawn of, as our Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg refers to it, “the People’s House,” a beautiful mansion on the river. It was a very enjoyable evening.

There are many very good, special women in Queens, and especially in Woodhaven. We are truly blessed with these wonderful, intelligent talented wives and mothers. In recent months, we lost three of these special ladies.

The first lady we lost was columnist and photographer Dee Richards. I remember her when I first became active in our community 37 years ago. Dee was one of the first journalists that photographed pictures of and wrote about Woodhaven activists (including myself) at our various rallies and quality-of-life fights. She was so aware of all Queens communities and has been referred to as “a part of institutional Queens” for many years. I knew Dee and truly admired her talent with her ever-present camera and her intuitive writing.

Then we sadly lost our own Woodhaven artistic iconic Rita McCauley of the Woodhaven Gallery. The McCauley Family was always very active in our Woodhaven community. I remember when the McCauley family and Felix Occhiuto opened their gallery, immediately beautifying our Jamaica Avenue. The portrait photographers and the beautiful photographs were on display. The exquisite frames being individual works of art. Then Rita perfected the process of using photographs to create oil painted portraits and also restore photographs of old crushed town pictures.

When Felix Occhiuto passed away, I was so thankful that our Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation was able to honor him and the McCauley Family at our 2000 Dinner Dance before his passing. Also, in 2009 our organization again honored the McCauley Family for their community involvement at our Wonderful Woodhaven Street Festival 2009.

Last week, Woodhaven’s First Lady passed away: Julia Schmidt, wife of the late Honorable Frederick Schmidt, Woodhaven assemblyman and then judge. Julia Schmidt was a teacher and very involved in St. Thomas the Apostle Church. She was always supportive of her husband’s elected position as a champion of Woodhaven. I had always thought of “Fred” as we know him as our Woodhaven’s own foremost number one leader, and her as our First Lady. It is so sad to lose such talented, beautiful ladies. They each excelled in their lives with their intelligence and in being loving wives and mothers. I know that many join me in mourning their loss.

As the American flags fly along our Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue, fly your American flag proudly and replace it often. Wear your flag pin, too. May God bless our leaders, may God bless our armed forces, coalition forces, may God bless us all, and most of all may God bless our America.
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