Community House honors unsung leaders
by Michael Perlman
Jun 26, 2013 | 5745 views | 1 1 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zivkovic Family
Zivkovic Family
For over a century, Forest Hills has been fortunate to have had many residents whose tireless efforts helped shape their community’s quality of life, analogous to today’s volunteers becoming tomorrow’s shapers of Forest Hills.

For 85 years, The Community House at 15 Borage Place has seen many of those community leaders and volunteers in action. On June 23, 40 Forest Hills notables were awarded a “Certificate of Leadership Appreciation” by The Church-In-The-Gardens Community House Executive Board at an elegant ceremony.

The Community House is a nonprofit, nonsectarian recreational facility that offers a meeting place where the public can pursue constructive activities, programs for children, and activities and social events for adults.

Chairwoman Lily Zivkovic came up with the idea of hosting the close-knit community event. Zivkovic has a 25-year history in Forest Hills, including leadership roles with the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish Council and the Women’s Club of Forest Hills. She has.

Now her 14 year-old daughter, Nicole Zivkovic, is a dedicated community volunteer, and one of the 40 honored at Sunday's event. The younger Zivkovic opened the ceremony by reading a letter from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“It is a pleasure to join The Community House and its partners in celebrating the amazing history of Forest Hills,” she read. “Forest Hills continues to thrive thanks to strong civic leaders, who benefit greatly from the support of institutions.”

Some recipients were invited without prior knowledge that they would be recognized. Lily Zivkovic stated,

“We found people who are unsung heroes, and take on this role without call, and do not even realize the extent of their impact,” said Lily Zivkovic. “Not all leaders have a title, just like not everybody with a title is a leader.”

Recipients included Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce; Susanna Hof of Friends of Station Square; and Helen Griffin, president of the Women's Club of Forest Hills.

Forest Hills native Suzanne Israel Tufts is a philanthropist and consultant for nonprofit organizations. As a student at PS 196 and JHS 157, she would volunteer at local hospitals.

“We were brought up to make the community a better place,” she said.

Tufts served on the Friends and Family Committee of Margaret Tietz Nursing Center, which focuses on Holocaust survivors.

“I had the honor of being selected to work for President George H. W. Bush as regional director of ACTION, which focused on volunteerism with many community groups in Forest Hills and throughout Queens,” she said. Tuft's husband’s family emigrated on the Mayflower.

“It's very comforting to establish Forest Hills roots in the same way my husband’s family did in the New World,” she added.

Also recognized was Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club, who is spearheading an effort to revitalize the long-neglected Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.

“Our club has been removed from the community for a long time, so this award is a confirmation that we are doing the right thing,” he said.

Anne Seeler has served on the Board of Trustees of The Church-In-The-Gardens for nearly 10 years.

“I grew up in the church, and so did my mom and grandma,” she said. “It’s been a privilege to be part of a historic church, which is so vital to our community with its extensive outreach. You do what you have to do without thinking of being awarded, and then you’re thrilled when you are.”

Anne Marie Cooley, a single parent, is a dynamo who is actively involved in various community events. Faced with a tough economy, she decided to create a non-denominational monthly job search networking group at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church. Most recently, she began volunteering at the Forest Hills Tree Giveaway at MacDonald Park.

“Forest Hills is a special town that is ethnically diverse with mostly young families moving in, and has a very influential adult population, as well as a fair senior population,” said Zivkovic. “It is truly an honor to be involved, and help make our town bigger, better, and friendlier, especially with the support of neighbors, unnamed leaders, and volunteers.”

Editor's Note: Columnist Michael Perlman was also honored at the event for his work with the Rego-Forest Preservation Council.

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Cheryl Cuddeback
June 30, 2013
Congrats on being recognized for your outstanding leadership qualities Michael and for your passion for preserving the beauty of the past. Keep up the great work!