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Volunteers give Pomonok Community Center a makeover

They left as quickly as they came, but a swarm of energetic volunteers certainly left a lasting impression on the Pomonok Community Center.

More than 150 volunteers from Aramark descended on the Queens Community House’s Pomonok Center last Thursday and gave it a complete face−lift — cleaning, painting murals, planting flowers and stocking a brand new library.

The volunteers came to the center, at 67−09 Kissena Blvd., as part of a collaboration between international food service and facility management firm Aramark’s Building Community Program and City Year New York, a group dedicated to engaging youth in full−time community service across the city.

Irma Rodriguez, executive director of Queens Community House, said the visit was a welcome breath of life for the Pomonok Center, which like many similar centers has been struggling for funding in the poor economic climate.

“It’s really just wonderful,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the kind of thing we just wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.”

Aramark bused in more than 150 of its employees for the event who were greeted by a pep squad from City Year that had the group doing exercises in the parking lot before they got to work.

“We’re part of the community, we’re embedded in the community,” said Bev Dribin of Aramark. “We work in the community and we live in the community, so we need to give back.”

Rodriguez said the volunteers’ work will not go unnoticed. She said the Pomonok Center was in need of refurbishing since much of the space the facility takes up is a converted basement which can at times seem dreary.

“The Queens Community House is a very institutional−looking building and much of our programming is underground,” she said. “Unfortunately, there simply is no surplus money to revive it, so the enhancements and beautification efforts by Aramark volunteers are meeting an important need — creating a more cheerful and inviting environment.”

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) and state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D−Flushing) praised the group for their work.

“The sun shines on this community all the time and it’s because of people like you,” Stavisky said.

Mayersohn also praised the group, but said to be cautious with how they approach doing good deeds.

“Let me just give you fair warning: Me and Toby started out as volunteers,” she said. “So just be careful you don’t go too far because you’ll end up in the New York Legislature.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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