The Middle Village business owner opened Arby’s on Metropolitan Avenue back in March of 2006, and was recently recognized for his work with the community and his business ingenuity with an award from the Kiwanis of Middle Village.
Clarke was named Businessperson of the Year at the group’s 1st Annual Community Awards ceremony on Wed., Oct. 16, at La Bella Cucina on Juniper Blvd. South.
“It has brought me a lot closer to the community,” Clarke said of his time spent fundraising with the Middle Village Kiwanis. “I’ve met a lot of great people, I had a lot of interesting events and it just made an awareness to the depth of Queens at large.”
Also honored at the dinner was Joe Martino for his volunteer efforts with St. John’s Bread of Life soup kitchen in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Tony Calabrese from Simplex Windows for 50 years of service in the community, and Samuel Oryson of the United Methodist Church.
“We’re trying to raise awareness and profile of Kiwanis throughout Queens, and we’re doing it one club at a time,” Clarke said.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley presented the honorees with City Council Proclamations. State Senator Joseph Addabbo was among the hundreds of supporters that filled the restaurant for the ceremony.
Al Gentile, vice president for Astoria Federal Savings Bank, is now in his first year as the president of the club and was very happy to see the turnout for its first awards dinner.
“This is our third year of the Middle Village Kiwanis, and we’re going to try and continue to build off of the great things we’ve done in the first couple of years,” said Gentile.
The money raised at the event will go towards a number of initiatives, like sending underprivileged kids to camp, scholarships, helping the local senior centers, and a number of programs aimed towards children and the neighborhood.
“One place the money will go is to the families that were displaced in Middle Village with the fire that happened a few weeks ago,” Gentile said, referring to the five-alarm fire on 68th Avenue in early September.
Tina Di Troia, past president of the club, said the awards ceremony is a great way to kick off the beginning of the Kiwanis season.
“We’re here to honor some people in the neighborhood and some people who have made an impact,” Di Troia said. “We always look out for whoever needs. We’re there.”