An athletic league that really 'WORKS'
by Ed Wendell
Oct 24, 2012 | 1343 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If you packed your bags and walked around the world, sooner or later you would end up right where you started.  I experienced a little of that this weekend as I attended the annual WORKS Little League Dinner at Antun’s in Queens Village.

WORKS Little League (formerly Rich-Haven) has been an institution in our community for over a half-century. Renamed to reflect the communities it serves (Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens and South Ozone Park), the league has expanded to include a softball league for girls and a Challenger Division for children with autism.

Many of us here in Woodhaven grew up playing ball for Rich-Haven (one of my first teams was the Lewis of Woodhaven Bears) and looked forward to seeing our names in the weekly game recaps in the pages of the Leader-Observer. 

And each spring we looked forward to marching in the annual parade (starting at Westfal’s on Atlantic Avenue and 111th Street and ending up at the Forest Park Bandshell). Each year, as soon as the parade ended, the kids would scatter to start selling boosters, decals that people would buy to show their support for the league.

My father was involved with Rich-Haven for a long time; he even served as president for a while. He designed a number of the boosters, including one with a drawing of a little kid holding a baseball bat. That little kid was me and that booster is still visible on a few doors and windows around town, most notably Popp’s Restaurant on 86th Street.

WORKS Little League promotes sportsmanship as well as community involvement. We were suitably impressed with how well-mannered and thoughtful all of the young boys and girls were. And their involvement in WORKS will lead them to be our next generation of civic leaders and volunteers, and twenty years from now many of them will also find themselves back at this dinner, not as players but as parents, coaches and managers.

Case in point: Terry Flanagan was a teammate of mine many years ago, one of the players my father had the privilege to manage. Today, Terry is the hard-working and much respected president of WORKS Little League. My father would be so very happy to know that the league is in such good, caring hands. 

And as we sat among the crowd of over 300 people on Sunday, we felt confident that future presidents of WORKS were out there, their life’s journey still awaiting them.

It is imperative that our community supports organizations such as WORKS. It is important that we support any organization that teaches positive values to young people and provides them with strong role models. These are the seeds that will grow into the strong roots that will sustain our community for decades to come.

And the league would not survive without support from our elected officials (both council members Eric Ulrich and Elizabeth Crowley allocated $5,000 of funding towards WORKS), as well as a roster of sponsors including many of Woodhaven’s local businesses and organizations such as Mark Klimm (Allstate), Assemblyman Mike Miller, Nick Gomez (ERA Top Service Realtor Inc.), Dr. Arthur Stern DDS, Maria Thomson (GWDC and WBID), John Gural (Imperial Decorating), JP Morgan Chase Bank, Mark Gallagher (Manor Deli), Ohlert-Ruggiere, Sal's Pizzeria, Charlie Moore (Spirare Cleaners), Robert Larson (State Farm), Victory Plumbing & Heating Inc., and Joe Testa (Woodhaven Pharmacy).

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, through donations large and small from its residents, also sponsored a team and will do so again next year, which is coming up sooner than you think. Registration for the 2013 Season starts next month, contact the WRBA for details. 

And if you’d like to be kept up to date on Woodhaven news and events such as this, please email us at info@woodhaven-nyc.org and ask to be placed on The Grapevine, the WRBA’s weekly newsletter. 

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