On Eid al-Adha, TCCQ gives back to community

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Screen shot via Google Maps

To cap off Eid al-Adha, the Turkish Cultural Center of Queens in Sunnyside is making a delivery of high-quality frozen meat to over 100 low-income seniors and families at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in LIC.

The donation was made possible through the collaboration of TCCQ, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and State Senator Mike Gianaris.

“The Turkish community strives to give back to those around us, to be active in creating the supportive and neighborly world we all want to live in,” says Veysel Ucan, executive director of TCCQ. “Donations of meat to the poor are a tradition that date to the founding of our religion, and we feel blessed and gratified to carry on this generosity today with our Queens neighbors.”

Eid al-Adha is second of two major holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide. It commemorates Ibrahim’s divine test of obedience to God’s will when he was asked to sacrifice his own son, a story common to Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths.

It marks the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj), one of the most important tenets of Islam.

Sunnyside’s Alpha Donuts serves everything up with a side of nostalgia

Sunnyside’s Alpha Donuts serves everything up with a side of nostalgia

When Patty Zorbas arrived on the scene on Queens Boulevard at 3 a.m., it was hard for her to watch. A five-alarm fire completely engulfed the six stores adjacent to her own, Alpha Donuts.

“When I saw the flames, I was like ‘that’s it, we’re going home,’” she said. “We’re not going to survive.”

Zorbas joined fellow business owners to watch firefighters work throughout the night on December 13 to control the fire. When the sun rose, six businesses were destroyed.

Among them were Sunnyside staples like Sidetracks, Better Line Hardware, and New York Style Eats. What did survive was Alpha Donuts.

That’s because decades prior, Alpha Donuts survived a less-intense fire. Afterward, the separate landlords on Queens Boulevard between 45th and 46th Streets agreed to install a firewall between their buildings. That firewall saved Alpha Donuts from turning into a pile of ash.

After last year’s fire, a few paint jobs later they were back to looking as they did before the fire — exactly as it was in the 1970s.

While Zorbas could have changed the aesthetic, she chose to keep it the same for nostalgic reasons.

“It feels like home,” she said, adding she is not a fan of the modern look. “It’s where you grew up, and it reminds you of the past.”

There are no tables inside Alpha Donuts. Just a single, winding countertop and 18 stationary stools. An old-fashioned cash register sits on the counter between the donuts and the grill. When Zorbas replaced it with a modern register, customers complained.

“It’s not the same without the register,” Zorbas said. “It’s our good luck charm.”

The doors at Alpha Donuts never close. Open 24/7, the restaurant serves early-bird seniors, sausage-craving cabbies, and late-night stumbling crowds.
Zorbas’ family has owned Alpha Donuts since 1979, and she has been running the restaurant for 28 years. When asked what keeps her going, she said it is the people.

“I meet people from all over the world, and I remember people coming in here as kids,” she said.

At 1 p.m. on a recent Friday afternoon, Zorbas was jumping between conversations with customers and her chef, Taso Diakantonis, who has been working at Alpha Donuts for 21 years and also shows no signs of slowing down.

Even though Alpha Donuts was spared from the 2018 fire, Zorbas said the adjacent destruction leaves a hole in the neighborhood.

“They’re my neighbors and I felt so bad,” she said. “It was a very sad day for Sunnyside. The neighborhood is not the same.”

Mammogram bus heads to Woodside


On Wednesday, July 31, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the American-Italian Cancer Foundation’s Mammogram Bus is coming to Woodside.

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center will host the bus, which will provide no-cost mammograms and clinical breast exams.

No co-pays are required, and deductibles are waived. Uninsured patients are also welcomed.

The van will be at 59-26 Woodside Avenue.

For an appointment, call 646-545-7214 or 1-877-628-9090.

Woodside on the Move gets $200K in city budget

WOTM Funding

Woodside on the Move won big in the latest city budget.

The city allocated $191,730 to the organization, of which nearly $152,000 will go specifically toward the group’s efforts to assist tenants and residents with housing-related issues.

WOTM’s services include after-school programs, summer camp for youth, tenant advocacy, case management, adult computer classes, immigration counseling, free tax services, monthly legal clinics and cultural programming.

“Woodside on the Move is an indispensable resource for our Woodside community,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said in a statement. “This allocation will help fund essential programming for youth and families, ranging from summer camp and cultural performances to tech training and housing assistance.”

MTA to install netting at 61st St-Woodside station

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Months after debris rained down on Woodside residents from the elevated subway track, the MTA is taking action to prevent further incidents.

On Saturday, MTA New York City Transit announced a new pilot program to test the feasibility of netting to capture debris while still allowing regular inspections.

The 61 St-Woodside station on the 7 line was chosen as one of four sites for the netting “due to a history of loose debris and higher elevations.”

As the MTA noted, the Woodside station, which opened in 1917, runs above Roosevelt Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Queens. It’s also a connection to the Long Island Rail Road.

“Owing to its age and exposure to weather conditions year-round, this location is particularly susceptible to deterioration that may cause debris to periodically fall from the structure,” the MTA says.

Case in point: on February 21, a beam crashed through a car windshield below the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue and 65th Street. The driver was not hurt.

On Marc 6, more debris rained down at 62nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, striking a moving car. Again, no one was injured.

This led to elected officials calling for immediate action from the MTA.

According to the MTA, a $2 million contract for the netting on the 7 line, as well as the Jamaica J/Z lines, was already awarded on July 5 to FOS.

Let’s hope the netting works to protect the people below.

CEC 24 meeting slated for July 23


The next meeting of Community Education Council for District 24 will be on July 23 at the Mosaic Pre-K Center at 50-15 44th Street in Woodside. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

In addition to a report by CEC 24 president Lucy Accardo and Superintendent Madelene Taub-Chan, the council will discuss the district’s plan for its integration grant.

They will also talk about the CEC’s budget for the 2019-2020 school year.

For more information, contact CEC 24’s office at 718-361-3560 ext. 1092.

Citi Bike is coming to Sunnyside

File photo

Over the next five years, Queens residents will see more Citi Bikes on the street.

The de Blasio administration and Lyft announced on July 16 that Citi Bike will expand its boundaries further into the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona will be part of the expansion through 2023.

This third phase of Citi Bike’s NYC expansion represents a $100 million investment.

To date, Citi Bike has had more than 81 million rides taken across more than 13,000 bikes at nearly 800 stations.

Annual memberships are $169 for 365 days of unlimited 45-minutes rides.

NYCHA residents or New Yorkers who receive SNAP benefits can access Citi Bike for $5 a month through the Reduced Fare Bike Share program.

Citi Bike is now available in the Lyft app, where customers can find station information and unlock bikes.

To learn more, visit www.citibikenyc.com.


Queensboro Dance Festival in Sunnyside Friday

Queensboro Dance Festival

The Queensboro Dance Festival is coming to Skillman Avenue and 41st Street in Sunnyside.

Dance into the summer solstice with performances, yoga sun salutations, mini dance workshops, and a silent disco at sundown!

Dance company line up:
Spaces of Fontana
Flamenco Latino
Cole Collective
Karla Florez

The event will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground, located at 41-15 Skillman Avenue.

PS 151 opens new schoolyard


After decades without proper play space, the kids at PS 151 near the Boulevard Gardens apartment co-ops in Woodside finally have a full schoolyard.

The brand-new yard features different types of colorful jungle gyms, basketball courts, a turf field and so much more.

For 21 years, trailer classrooms for the special needs students at PS 255 sat in the yard. The trailers were not good for learning, and the lack of a schoolyard made recess a dull affair.

In fact, current Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who reps Woodside, was a student at PS 151 when the trailers went in. He’s now in his 30s!

Faculty, staff, parents and especially children were thrilled by the yard opening last week.

For more reaction and information, check out the article in this week’s LIC/Astoria Journal newspaper.