The Kiwanis Club held its first annual community awards ceremony recently to honor members for their outstanding achievements in the Middle Village area.
Members of the Middle Village Kiwanis Club came together at La Bella Cucina on Juniper Boulevard South and several members were recognized. One in particular was Thomas Clarke, who received the Business Person of the Year award.
Thomas Clarke, who owns the Arby’s located on Metropolitan Avenue, is considered by members as a true example of class personified.
According to the club, Clarke lives his life helping to change the world, in any way he can, encouraging others to do the same. On numerous occasions, he has put time into helping his community. Whether it is time, money, or food, Clarke is always willing to help.
“I like to try to find a way that will help people directly,” Clarke said.
The business owner was honored at the event for his work in the community.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) presented the honorees with City Council proclamations. State Sen.Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) was also in attendance.
Clarke, recalling his feelings that night, commented, “I felt privileged and surprised.It was quite an honor.”
Al Gentile, president of the Kiwanis Club and vice president of Astoria Federal Savings Bank, added that “Clarke is a successful entrepreneur, but it is his volunteer work and generosity that really stands out.”
Clarke uses the resources he has to help people. A few months ago he helped Queens College which was hosting a Special Olympics by providing free lunch for the event.
Clarke’s Arby’s also helped the State Parks Department feed the volunteers at a Blue Angels event on Memorial Day.
Clarke wants his focus to remain on trying to get more people involved with Kiwanis. As a business person, he sees it as an opportunity to come together with people who have similar interests in both raising money and promoting their businesses.
“Everyday you take a small step and one day you realize the distance you’ve gone,” Clarke said.
There were three other recipients that night who were honored: Joe Martino, Samuel Oryson and Tony Calabrese.
Martino has been on the board of the St. John’s Bread & Life soup kitchen for over 30 years. Oryson is a member of the United Methodist Church and helps run many charity programs. One program coming up soon is one that raises money to take care of children whose parents are incarcerated and buy them gifts. Calabrese is another business owner on Metropolitan Avenue who has over 60 years dedicated to the community.
The money raised during the event will go to a few different causes including the St. John’s Bread & Life Organization, the families affected by a fire near PS/IS 87 and the annual holiday food drive.