The incoming president and vice president, Martin Colberg and Giedra Kregzdys, are two of the best people I know. Last year, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the residents of Woodhaven did a remarkable job collecting and transporting food and clothing to the affected areas, and Martin and Giedra were at the forefront of those efforts.
Day after day, hour after hour, they were there.
It has been my privilege serving alongside these two, as well as the rest of the board of directors – Arlene Annunziata, Vance Barbour, Alexander Blenkinsopp, Steve Forte, Roger Hennin, Janet Chan-Smith, Maria Thomson – along with our office manager, Linda Fogal.
These residents work very hard on behalf of Woodhaven and we owe them, and their spouses and families, our thanks.
Mostly, it was an honor serving Woodhaven as president of the WRBA for the past four years, and I look forward to continuing to serve on the board.
It has been an interesting journey for me. Up until 2008, I had no interest in “getting involved” – my interest in this community ended at my property line. In fact, we were actively looking to sell our house and move.
Whenever we would visit small towns I was envious of how everyone seemed to know one another, how friendly they were. At the same time, every time we went shopping here in Woodhaven, we encountered nothing but unfamiliar, unfriendly faces.
That all changed near the end of 2008 when I started a website called projectwoodhaven.com with my lifelong friend, former Woodhaven resident, Ramon Olivier. We only started it as a way to learn web design, but it attracted the interest of then-president Vance Barbour, who invited me to a meeting of the WRBA.
From there, my wife and I started attending meetings, getting involved, meeting people, and making friends. Now when we go shopping, we encounter friendly and familiar faces. It turned out that we were living in the small town we were looking for all along.
One other thing I learned is that sitting at home complaining about the state of your community accomplishes nothing. You see things that need to be changed? Come down and get involved with the WRBA. The next meeting is Saturday, January 18, at 1 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ, 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard.
I have enjoyed interacting with many of you on different levels. Many of you came to me with problems. Sometimes they were resolved, sometimes they weren’t. But I can honestly say that I always tried my best.
I’ve received compliments and praise; far too often, to be honest. It’s very easy to accept the pats on the back and the kind words, but you also need to be able to accept the complaints and criticisms with similar good grace.
One of the oddest pieces of criticism came from someone who took umbrage with the picture I chose for my column here in the Leader/Observer instead of a current headshot. It was chosen for a specific reason: I am a child of Woodhaven, born and raised here.
When I see this neighborhood, I am seeing it through the same eyes that saw it at its best. However, starting next week there will be a brand new picture at the top of this column.
In closing, I’d like to thank my mom and my wife, Josephine, the two most important people in the world to me; I love them both dearly. I always read my column to my mom and she’s stopped more than a few clumsy thoughts from making it to print. And my wife is always at my side, she is my biggest fan and the feeling is entirely mutual.
And I’d like to acknowledge my dad, who I lost in 2005. I wish he had been here for the last few years. I hope he’s been watching and I look forward to telling him all about it when I see him next.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas – to you and your family – and I wish all of you, and all of Woodhaven, a happy, healthy 2014.