New trees in store for Forest Hills, Rego Park

The Parks Department is putting the “forest” in Forest Hills and the “park” in Rego Park with its plans to plant trees in both communities over the next year.
“Our goal is to continue expanding the city’s tree canopy as much as possible,” said spokesperson Charisse Hill. “Our fall 2021 planting projections for the Forest Hills and Rego Park communities are 128 trees, whereas our spring and fall 2022 planting projections for both communities total 425 trees.”
Stretches of Queens Boulevard, 66th Road, 102nd Street, and 67th Avenue are anticipated to have an estimated 16 to 19 additional trees by spring 2022.
Empty tree pits being reforested, while sidewalks are being excavated to accommodate new pits.
Extreme weather in recent years decimated the neighborhoods’ trees, which motivated residents to preserve mature trees and plant new ones, including the Forest Hills Tree Giveaway, which was held in MacDonald Park from 2011 to 2015.
“Young street trees are four times more likely to grow and thrive through tree stewardship, and community engagement can help ensure young street trees grow strong and healthy,” said Hill.
To volunteer to be a tree steward, visit
Trees provide a home to wildlife, reduce stormwater runoff, filter and cool the air. Some older trees can feel like an unofficial landmark.
“As the steward of New York City’s urban forest, we take tree planting seriously,” said Hill “We recommend constituents who wish to help accelerate the planting process to pursue tree planting through New York Tree Time. The cost of planting a tree through this program is currently $1,800.”
To participate, email or call (718) 361-8101.
A resident does not have to be a homeowner to play a role in the planting and maintenance of city trees. Residents can make note of empty tree pits, dead trees, or request pruning and planting by calling 311.
Over the years, the Parks Department has worked to diversify the street tree canopy.
“Species diversity is essential to maintaining a resilient, robust urban forest,” said Hill. “Planting a wider range of tree species helps combat pests and climate change. Our planting program now incorporates over 200 tree species in its street tree planting palette.”

Art that’s lit! The bygone era of matchbooks

Largely gone are the days when matchbooks were readily available near a cash register. If you have an old matchbook sitting around and collecting dust, chances are that it offers value in the name of history, advertising, and art.
Collecting matchbooks, matchboxes, and matchbox labels is part of a unique hobby known as phillumeny. If the matches are intact, desirability increases.
In 1892, a Philadelphia lawyer named Joshua Pusey, also known as “Ol’ Josh,” invented the matchbook.
In 1894, Diamond Match Company purchased the rights and became the largest manufacturer in the industry. The company’s first factory in Barberton, Ohio, produced an estimated 150,000 matchbook covers daily.
Matchbooks would advertise a wide range of subjects. The golden age of matchbooks spans the 1940s and 1950s, with a range of sizes, colors, unique artwork, and slogans.
In the mid-1980s, the matchbook market folded as a result of anti-smoking campaigns, the efficiency of lighters, and steep labor costs.
Local matchbooks that have survived are countless, and are associated with shops, restaurants, and recreation and entertainment venues. A majority of businesses are no longer in existence, but matchbooks play a role in establishing a timeline of how properties evolved.
Iconic sites that were often portrayed include the Forest Hills Inn, which opened in 1912 and was the center of a classy social life in Station Square. A rare super-sized matchbook with a green, black, and white color scheme features a rendering of the inn on the cover.
Inside are large matches. As long as they remain unseparated, a more detailed work of art depicting the inn is evident.
A yellow-and-red matchbook from 1967 advertised the annual Forest Hills Music Festival and proclaimed Diet-Rite Cola as “America’s No. 1.”
Long before the days of the web, the season’s program was advertised on the inside of a matchbook, including the Lovin’ Spoonful & Judy Collins, The Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, Trini Lopez, and the musical couple Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.
Entertainment venues that are long-forgotten but live on via matchbook covers include Carlton Terrace and The Stratton nightspots on opposite corners of 71st Road on Queens Boulevard, as well as Boulevard Tavern at 94-05 Queens Boulevard, a dining and wedding venue in Rego Park that attracted Big Bands and solo singer Patti Page.
Rather than illustrations, this matchbook featured color photos depicting an illuminated neon billboard that read “2 Shows Nightly, Luncheon – Dinner.”
London Lennie’s in Rego Park is depicted in a few matchbook cover designs, but much missed by natives is Scott’s at 96-24 Queens Boulevard, which dates back to 1941. Regulars included celebrities Sylvia Sidney, Cornel Wilde, and Thelma Ritter.
The red-and-white cover references “Long Island’s outstanding sea food restaurant.” It features a rod and fish over a map wrapping around the slogan “The fish you eat today slept last night in Chesapeake Bay.”
Sports were spotlighted on matchbooks, including Hollywood Lanes, a 30-lane bowling alley that opened in 1952 in the Metropolitan Bank Building at 99-25 Queens Boulevard.
The blue-and-silver matchbook of Kabak’s Dairy at 102-21 Metropolitan Avenue features a farm illustration with “Butter, Eggs, Cheese,” and advertises self-service, frozen foods, and free delivery along with a vintage phone number, BO 8-3556.
Luncheonettes more than just lunch. A matchbook for Chippy’s Luncheonette at 104-21 Queens Boulevard advertised “Good food, fountain and table service, stationery, papers and magazines.”
An Art Deco-style red-and-black matchbook for Martin Stockman at 71-47 Austin Street advertises a liquor and wine merchant and reads “A name that merits confidence.”
Delicatessens are now few and far between, but on matchbooks they are alive and well. Lloyd’s Delicatessen at 102-35 Queens Boulevard advertises a full seven-course dinner with a choice of 15 main dishes, including a smorgasbord and free parking in the rear.
A wood-themed matchbook captured the essence of Henry’s at 102-29 Queens Boulevard, a popular destination as Queens’ only dairy restaurant and bakery.
A succession of Asian restaurants is evident at 64-43 108th Street. What has been known as Cho-Sen Garden for decades, was once On Luck Restaurant. Its matchbook cover boasts “Chinese and American cooking,” a cocktail lounge, and catering for all occasions.

Community helps restore vandalized statues

The statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Therese the Little Flower have been a cherished part of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Forest Hills since it opened its doors in 1937.
On the morning on July 17, it took only minutes for a woman to drag them into the street and smash them. She is believed to be the same woman who toppled the statues on July 14.
Through the darkness came light, however, as community residents and organizations who joined forces to replicate the statues.
As of Monday, 129 people donated over $19,500 to a fundraiser posted on Go Fund Me started by Brian Allen on behalf of Knights of Columbus–Our Lady of Mercy Council and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy.
The goal is $25,000. In addition, donations can be mailed to Our Lady of Mercy Statue Repair at 79-01 Kessel Street.
As an lector and 14-year parishioner at the church, Michael Conigliaro (also a District 29 City Council candidate), is playing a significant role in fundraising, protecting his parish, and speaking up about hate and vandalism. Upon learning about the crime, he contacted Deacon Dean Dobbins. He said,
“I reached out to a 112th Precinct colleague with a request that a patrol car be parked outside the church and it was granted,” said Michael Conigliaro, a lector and 14-year parishioner at the church.
Replacing the statues shows that hate or disrespect aimed towards any house of faith will not be tolerated.
“For people who pass the parish, they will always see the beauty of the statues and understand what they represent,” added Conigliaro. “Before someone considers performing an act of hate, they should try to empathize and consider what the effect of the damage will have on the community.”
“The statues were such an important element for a young child who needed that gentle but strong maternal figure in their lives” said Lori Jarema, who was a student at Our Lady of Mercy in the 60’s. “I love the pictures we took in front of Mary from my First Communion and graduation.”
Nancy J. O’Connor and her family were parishioners from 1951 to 2006.
“Replacing these statues for the current members and people who recall Our Lady of Mercy fondly sends a message that we will not be intimidated by this type of behavior,” she said. “Each day we see more reports of vandalism and violence, and these actions must have consequences.”
Although Andreea Sudresianu is not a parishioner, she contributed to the fund to replace the statues.
“I used to stop for a few moments and say a little prayer every time I passed by, and I rediscovered this beautiful place on my daily walks during the pandemic,” she said. “I always felt safe on these streets, but I wonder where that woman is and how she dared to do such a terrible thing.”

Stained glass brilliance in residential buildings

Stained glass is often associated with houses of worship, but the apartment buildings built in the ’20s and ’30s in Forest Hills and Rego Park feature numerous examples of decorative glass, ranging in styles from Art Nouveau and American Neo-Gothic to Renaissance and Tudor.
“Glaziers were excellent craftsmen, and these local windows stood the test of time and are absolute treasures,” said Jon Schwartz, a member of the Facebook group Historic New York City.
A development boom was sparked by the opening of the IND subway in 1936 and the 1939–1940 World’s Fair. Apartment buildings with ornate and charming details were a draw for residents who lived in congested Manhattan.
“The light from these windows turns these rooms into beautiful sunlit tapestries,” said Forest Hills resident Pat Lannan, who said they are as important to the neighborhood’s history as the brick pavement in Station Square. “It really is the looking glass into the care and craftsmanship to produce these pieces of art.”
At the time, much of Forest Hills and Rego Park offered a country-like setting with open spaces, recreational conveniences, and modern amenities.
On opposite sides of one street are two outstanding examples of Tudor Medieval meets Gothic buildings.
In 1936, The Mayfair House at 110-21 73rd Road was designed by Cohn Brothers and built by Austin Building Corporation. Its sister building, The Windsor House at 110-20 73rd Road, opened in June 1937. It was built by Arende Building Corporation.
North Carolina resident Richard Delaney, who was raised in the Holland House in Forest Hills, remembered The Mayfair House’s large arched lobby windows. One of them features Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Sower,” a popular figure in stained glass.
“I really thought that I saw glimpses of King Arthur, Lady Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot in some of those portals,” he said. “The magnificent craftsmanship, design, and detail that went into creating these lobbies is incredible.”
Completed in 1931, Sutton Hall at 109-14 Ascan Avenue was designed by Constantinople native Benjamin Braunstein, an award-winning architect.
On its largely intact façade are Medieval-style doors and windows with colorful stained glass that includes knights, horses, ships, and castles.
“Its style and architecture, somewhat reminiscent of an Old English Manor, is replete with quaint charm and rustic simplicity,” a prospectus at the time read. “A superb accomplishment, adapted to every element of fine living, Sutton Hall is one of the outstanding examples of artistic residential planning in the country.”
The castle-inspired Valeria Arms, complete with roof turrets and finials, was also designed by Benjamin Braunstein. It was a most desirable address when it opened in 1929 at 77-16 Austin Street.
It features stained glass arched transom windows with crests in two entryways.
In Rego Park is the Spanish Mission-style Marion Court at 62-98 Saunders Street. Completed in 1929 and also designed by Braunstein, it is among the three earliest apartment buildings developed by Real Good Construction Company.
The distinctive Colonnade features arched leaded-glass windows with spun-glass roundels and two stained glass portals of colorful castle scenes, which add character to the first grand scale lobby of Rego Park.
John Morelli of Forest Hills described one that is partially obscured by an exit sign.
“The obstructed one has sails, so it must be a really nice ship which was probably owned by royalty because that’s mainly who lives in castles,” he said.
“Stained glass is becoming a lost art, and I don’t know why,” said artist Carol Gilmore, who works with stained glass. “How can anyone walk into a building and not be in awe of the beauty and precision, and the light that filters through these beautiful glass windows?”
In 2014, Matt Wiederhold created the Facebook group Vintage American Stained Glass.
“Stained glass is fascinating because it would be such a personal choice for someone building a home,” he said. “Why did they choose certain colors, patterns, designs? I feel the windows give a bit of insight to the homeowner, they tell a story of design and artistry.”

Remembering The Baba of Rego Park

Stepping into The Baba Catering & Nite Club at 91-33 63rd Drive felt like a journey to a faraway land.
Opened in 1968, the Rego Park cornerstone was the go-to spot for anniversaries, showers, and weddings. It was the only Israeli cafe in America affiliated with a sister spot in Tel Aviv.
“This is where my grandparents Sonya and Khayka celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in a beautiful atmosphere,” said Arthur Ilizarov, who also had his Bar Mitzvah there.
The spot’s slogan was “Have fun Middle East-style.” Patrons could enjoy hummus and tahini, gefilte fish, and kafta. On Thursday night, singles were encouraged to mingle and dance.
In the 1970s, Steve Goodman was a college student who worked one summer as an audio engineer at WEVD.
“It was known as ‘the station that speaks your language,’” he recalled. “I had such fun working with Art Raymond, longtime beloved host of the Sunday Simcha Jewish, Yiddish, and Israeli music show sponsored by Cafe Baba. I can still hear his voice as he enticed listeners to plan a visit to Rego Park.
“At a time when New York was rapidly changing, it was The Baba’s sponsorship that kept Jewish music alive on the radio,” Goodman added.
“A Night In Israel” was coordinated by the Parents Council of the Salanta-Akiba-Riverdale Academy in 1971, which entertained attendees with Israeli and modern music. Art Raymond, nicknamed “The Yiddish Tummeler,” performed a comedy routine.
“I’ll always remember my parents Simon and Elise Salz’s 40th anniversary party in 1986,” said Roz Salz. “They loved listening to Israeli music, and we all sang along with the melodies in a very romantic ambiance.”
Robert Rosner was raised nearby and has since relocated to Florida, but The Baba remains close to his heart.
“I had my Bar Mitzvah reception in May 1970,” he said. “I remember how Art Raymond was there that night. He was the life of the party.”
Musician Ari Silverstein recalled many birthday celebrations at The Baba.
“I remember the belly dancer and the band performing in English, Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish,” he said. “There was also a disco ball.”
It also elicits fond memories for Michael Gluck going back 50 years ago.
“I would visit with my parents on various occasions and had my Bar Mitzvah there,” he said. “Most of the contemporary Jewish entertainers of the 1960s and 1970s performed here. My favorite show featured a comedian named Johnny Yune, who was Korean American and recited Jewish jokes. He was a guest on ‘The Tonight Show’ and was always very funny.”
In 1993, The Baba came under new management and continued as a kosher restaurant and night club.
“The only kosher Russian restaurant around” was headed by Terry Ellis, a native of Soviet Georgia. It was a family effort with the assistance of her husband Alex, daughters Yvette and Nina, ad son Max, as well as business partner Alex Gutgarts.
At the time, The Baba featured ornate chandeliers, lamps, and mirrored walls. Some of the unique dishes were red caviar with blintzes and stuffed fish and chicken in walnut sauce, a popular Georgian food.
Patrons felt as if they were in Russia as they ate blintzes with meat, Loulya Kabob, and Hinkali dumplings. On Sunday afternoons, a violinist and a gypsy dancer would entertain the crowd.
“In the late 1990s, I used to perform there every weekend,” said dancer Sira Melikian. “It seemed like an exotic castle with its diamond-like mirror mosaics adorning the outside. I was very sad to see the façade and its name change, as it was a Rego Park staple. The very special design set it apart from anything else in the neighborhood.”

Greener horizons at West Side Tennis Club

West Side Tennis Club members and guests were first to play on the newly resurfaced field of eight state-of-the-art grass courts at the iconic Forest Hills club last Friday.
“To have been able to take on a transformational upgrade of our grass courts at this moment in time is a testament to our Board of Governors, our members, and our commitment to our mission,” said club president Monika Jain.
Virginia Wade, who won the 1968 U.S. Open, was a guest of honor.
“I had deja vu watching all these good players out today,” she said. “I know what good grass is like. Grass technology is so sophisticated these days, and it’s so exciting that this club chose to take advice from Wimbledon.
“The WSTC lawns will become the envy of every tradition-loving club and player,” Wade added. “And for those lucky enough to play on them, it will be a blissful experience.”
“My favorite surface in the whole world is grass,” said Rennae Stubbs, a legendary Australian tennis player, coach, and Racquet Magazine podcast host. “It was the first time I ever played here, and it was great to be part of opening the courts for the first time this year. You just have to look around to know you’re in a historic tennis club.”
After WSTC relocated from the Bronx to Forest Hills in 1913, grass was laid for seven courts. The following August, a Davis Cup match would attract an audience of over 12,000, transforming tennis.
The hallowed grounds are where legends like Bill Tilden, Bobby Riggs, Ken Rosewall, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, and Chris Evert made their mark on the tennis world.
However, the courts were considered past their prime with spongy and bent grass. After Newport’s International Hall of Fame resurrected its turf venue, WSTC leadership was inspired to examine the feasibility of upgrading its grass courts.
The $650,000 project was designed by Tom Irwin Advisors and spearheaded by Ian Lacy, the former head of Great Britain’s Institute of Groundsmanship Professional Services.
Test pits were dug to evaluate layers of soil, and Lacy and his colleagues recommended a plan to replace the grass, upgrade the irrigation system, enhance the underlying dirt by adding a sand mixture for playability and durability, and regrade the courts.
The grass is a modern blend of three varieties of rye, the same kind used at Wimbledon, the Newport Hall of Fame, and London’s Queens Club.
“The new grass courts are much better, since the ball bounces higher and we can rally and really enjoy it,” said longtime club member Juan Reyes. “Before the ball would hardly bounce.”
The upgrades included Wimbledon-style wooden tennis posts with brass winder mechanisms and “West Side Tennis Club” etchings.
“This is one of the most revered sites, as it was the first home of the U.S. Open,” said Frank Milillo, a pickleball ambassador. “The courts have always been top notch, and it’s exciting to see how well the club improved it with a new lawn. This is where the sport grew, and now it’s coming back to its roots.”

Young volunteer aims to make a difference

Valery Carpio, a 12-year-old Middle Village resident, likes to give back.
On May 16, the seventh-grade honor student at The Dorothy Bonawit Kole School worked for hours with Officer Barnwell and Officer Cherenfant of the 112th Precinct, this columnist, aunt Julia Carpio and grandma Judy Pesantez to paint several green relay mailboxes and scrub blue mailboxes in Forest Hills.
Unsightly graffiti and rust that built up for approximately 15 years became a distant memory within hours. The paint was donated by Gleason Paint Place in Woodside.
“A lot of days I walk around or I’m in a car, and I see graffiti everywhere,” Carpio said. “It doesn’t make the community look great. Once we cleaned up the mailboxes, I saw how much nicer and cleaner the whole community is.”
Local residents and business owners, including Yosef Simhayev of NY Hot Bagels & Bialys, thanked Carpio, inspiring her to volunteer more.
“We walked around to each mailbox and saw everybody thanking us and congratulating us for our work,” she said. “The smallest thing you can do can change everybody’s perspective.”
Carpio also volunteered for the Arts For Life competition, a recent breast cancer fundraising initiative in partnership with Paddle For The Cure, Elmhurst Hospital, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.
She even submitted a work of her own, a pink ribbon along with floral elements titled “Love, Life, Nature Forever.” It is now part of a permanent display for cancer patients and their families at Elmhurst Hospital.
“My artwork represents the hope and love that I have for all the patients,” Carpio said. “I am hoping to visit Elmhurst Hospital and see how my artwork is presented.”
Carpio hopes she can encourage other residents and her classmates to volunteer.
“When everybody’s collaborating, we can make a whole community nice and clean,” she said. “We can pick up garbage in parks, do more for our environment, and continue to help like we did last weekend.”
When Carpio is not volunteering, her passions are singing and acting. She was recently in a school production of “The Little Mermaid.”
“We understand that it’s not only important to work hard and get good grades, but find ways to make yourself relevant by going out there,” said her father, Mauricio Carpio. “Valery approached me and said she wanted to find ways to contribute to the community.”

Historic Midway Theatre reopening

On May 14, the Midway Theatre at 108-22 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills will reopen its doors. Operator Regal Cinemas decided last fall to close 543 theaters due to the pandemic, and the Midway was one of them.
“I thought they were shutting their doors for good, so this is such wonderful news,” said local resident Christina Gennaro. “The history surrounding Forest Hills is what made me want to move here. Movie theaters like the Midway are living history.”
With a largely intact vertical beacon, curved façade, and whimsical circular lobby with a sweeping staircase, the Art Moderne theater is one of the borough’s oldest, operating since 1942.
The Midway was named after the Battle of Midway in World War II. Opening attractions were the U.S. Navy’s Technicolor short The Battle of Midway, as well as The Pied Piper and Just Off Broadway.
Among the celebrities who made appearances were Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, who conducted a meet and greet.
Over time, it transitioned from a single screen to a quad to nine screens. In more recent times, digital advances and recliners were introduced.
“It holds fond memories,” said Jennifer Vega of the theater. “I’ve went there with my parents and siblings in the 1980s, had dates there in the late 1990s and 2000s, and then watched movies with my son.”
The Midway was designed by America’s foremost theater architect, Scotland native Thomas White Lamb, along with consulting architect S. Charles Lee. Today, Tom Andrew Lamb of White Plains is preserving his great-grandfather’s legacy.
“The most compelling reason that the Midway is worthy of preservation is the history that has taken place in this neighborhood theater,” he said. “For almost 80 years, this place has seen first dates, family outings, and solo trips on lonely nights. In our throwaway world, these spaces hold our collective experience and are repositories of memories.”
North Carolina resident Richard Delaney was six when the Midway opened.
“The opening was a big deal, it was like a black-tie event” he recalled. “It was modern Art Deco and completely different from the 1920s theaters.
“The Midway definitely needs to be preserved” Delaney added. “It’s an architectural treasure that was very ahead of its time.”
Over the years, the Midway hosted a range of events, including anniversary galas, benefits, and floor shows.
“My friends and I were the shadow cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” said Joseph Pormigiano. “I played the criminologist in the floor show,”
Marco Zanaletti is an airline employee from Italy. He has had the opportunity to visit Forest Hills on several occasions.
“I noticed the Tudor-style residential buildings and the Art Deco presence in places like the Midway,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘wow I am in the U.S. and in a real community, not just as a tourist coming to New York shopping along 5th Avenue’ I started to feel a part of New York history around me.”
“The Midway is a landmark in my life,” added Thomas Duffy, whose Midway journey began in 1982 with E.T. “My first date with my longtime partner was at the Midway in 2000, when we saw Down to You. I hope to see a blockbuster or two this summer.”

Art contest doubles as cancer fundraiser

A virtual art contest and breast cancer fundraiser broadcast from Ridgewood Savings Bank in Forest Hills last Friday attracted 33 artists.
Money raised from the event benefited Elmhurst Hospital and local nonprofit Paddle For The Cure (PFC).
It was produced and co-hosted by this columnist and PFC founder Leah Salmorin. Technical support was provided by Michael Wechsler.
“Salmorin is a former patient of our Hope Pavilion Cancer Center, where our excellent team of cancer specialists provide more than 12,000 visits a year treating people with cancer,” said Ruchel Ramos, associate director of Public Affairs & Community Engagement for Elmhurst Hospital.
“Faith, Hope, and Goodness” is a drawing by Judy Pesantez, a Middle Village resident who immigrated from Ecuador.
“The faith of cancer patients, represented in the background behind a pink ribbon, has a large sun for everyone to grasp,” she explained. “Hope is represented by the pink ribbon. Goodness is represented by caduceus on an evergreen field, which symbolizes the work of health professionals and first responders.”
“Unravel My Heart” by Forest Hills resident Nelly Lester took top prize in the painting category.
“My canvas is mostly filled with bright acrylic colors and clean designs,” she said. “My preference is usually flowers, women, and children in abstract form. My artwork tends to represent reality and true happiness, and that’s a sign of freedom.”
Photographer and animator Amy Lipson was the winner in the photography category with “N.Y. City: Home Base.”
“The symbolism of a strong foundation surrounded by plant life relates to the resilience of New York City and the comforting power of nature that my home base of Forest Hills provides during these trying times,” she said. “Staying local this past year allowed me to profoundly explore its beauty and peacefulness while on my daily walks.”
David Chatowsky, an artist and owner of three galleries from Rhode Island, entered his painting “Hope.”
“It features a young woman harvesting dates from the Judean Date Palm, which was extinct until recently when it was cultivated from 2000-year-old seeds,” he said. “The sun rays represent a blessing on her of health and security, and they go back into the rising sun, which represents a hopeful new day for all creation.”
The winner in the drawing category was 17-year-old Tina Zhao of Elmhurst.
“Tina decided to draw my older sister Panny because she has so much respect for her,” said her cousin, Amy Zhao. “Panny is an emergency room nurse who had to work countless hours. Being surrounded by death and mourning families and being separated from her loved ones just to keep them safe took a toll on her mental and emotional health.”
“I jumped out of my seat when I heard I was one of the winners,” said Glendale resident and Poland native Dorothy Stepnowska, who owns Flower Power Coffee House NYC.
Stepnowska won in the mixed media category for her installation “COVID-19 Memorial.” She donated her $100 prize to Elmhurst Hospital.
The prizes were made possible thanks to a donation by Ridgewood Savings Bank.
“Ridgewood Savings Bank believes that banking is all about people, helping them obtain their dreams, and making a positive impact on each other and the communities we share,” said Forest Hills branch manager Nancy Adzemovic.

Art competition to benefit cancer patients

An art contest is uniting diverse artists from Queens and beyond with a mission of bringing hope for cancer patients.

On April 30 at 5:30 p.m., Paddle For The Cure founder Leah Dulce Salmorin and this columnist will co-host an art show on Zoom and Facebook from the landmarked Ridgewood Savings Bank at 107-55 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.

“Arts For Life” will feature numerous artists competing in the categories of painting, photography, and drawing.

Winning artists will donate their artwork to be displayed at the Hope Pavilion Clinic. Entries will be judged by Mervin David, an artist and nurse practitioner with Elmhurst Hospital.

They will also receive $100 donated by Ridgewood Savings Bank. Artists who enrolled paid $20, which will benefit Elmhurst Hospital’s Hope Pavilion Cancer Clinic and Paddle For The Cure.

“Ridgewood Savings Bank has always been a bank that prides itself on its community.,” said branch manager Nancy Adzemovic. “I want to go out into the community and search for more partnerships.”

Over the years, the bank has funded history murals, sponsored the 112th Precinct’s Night Out Against Crime, organized blood drives, and coordinated a carnival-themed family festival.

The contest was inspired in part by an exhibit at Jade Eatery in Forests Hills Gardens by this columnist titled “Reflections of Historic Forest Hills.” Since 2019, it has been the center of several fundraising events for Paddle For the Cure.

Salmorin is herself a breast cancer survivor. She founded Paddle For The Cure, which supports fellow survivors through recreational opportunities to foster a healthy lifestyle and offer emotional support and team spirit.

“I vowed to give where I can, to help others affected, and I feel that I cannot waste the rest of my life without making an impact on this planet,” said Salmorin.

To maintain a healthy body and state of mind, Salmorin swims, bikes, does yoga and acupuncture. She serves as a lector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Joan of Arc.

Her story, “Humility & Faith,” discusses her two lessons as a survivor and was featured in “Faces of Inspiration,” a book that spotlights breast cancer stories.

“Giving me the gift of life is also my way of giving back to Elmhurst Hospital, my home away from home where I was treated. I will never forget the first time I stepped into the doors and the entire staff welcomed me with beautiful smiles.

“I also believe that there are many artists who need to be recognized, and this event brings every individual together as one for a great cause,” she added. “Art is the key to healing that can touch one heart to another.” Purchase tickets for the virtual event here.

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