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Queens Chronicle

PRIME TIMES: 60 Plus QICA, at 48, honors senior advocates

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019 10:30 am

As Queens Interagency Council on Aging marked 48 years of advocating on behalf of seniors at its annual anniversary celebration last Thursday evening, it paused to pay tribute to three leaders for their outstanding commitment to the population the organization serves.

The group honored state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park) and Queens County Clerk of the Queens County Supreme Court and Commissioner of Jurors Audrey Pheffer.

Addabbo and Pheffer Amato shared the Rose Kryzak Legislative Award, named in remembrance of the former QICA board member credited with spearheading the successful statewide lobbying effort to enact EPIC, the state’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage plan.

“Rose is the sand that irritated the oyster that made a pearl,” QICA President Barry Klitsberg said of Kryzak when announcing the award, calling her a “fantastic advocate for seniors.”

Neither honoree was present to accept but their presence was felt.

“I am unfortunately unable to be there with you tonight ... because we are hard at work in Albany working to present an on-time budget,” Addabbo said in an email read at the event.

“It is an honor to receive this award, and as a member of the Senate Aging Committee, I take the issues seniors face very seriously because we must ensure that our seniors’ quality of life does not deteriorate as they grow into their golden years,” Addabbo added. “I look forward to working ... on addressing the issues that concern our seniors.”

Pheffer Amato, also away on job-related business, was represented by her community liaison Michael Matteo, who shared a statement from the assemblywoman.

“QICA does such incredible work for our community and for our seniors,” Pheffer Amato wrote. “It’s no surprise we have one of the most engaged senior communities here in Queens. QICA’s commitment to improve communication among senior service organizations and legislators is vital and I thank them for all their selfless work.”

A bittersweet moment came with the final presentation of the evening, the Maria Cuadrado, PhD, Community Leadership Award, which went to Pheffer, the Assemblywoman’s mother.

It was the third time the award has been presented as a homage to the late QICA president, who passed away in 2016.

Previous recipients included Donna Corrado, commissioner of the city’s Department for the Aging, in 2017, and Lucy Garcia, a longtime member of QICA’s board who has dedicated much of her life to nonprofit community service, who received the award last year.

“I go back a very long time with QICA,” Pheffer said in accepting the award, adding that she is “enjoying some of those services” for which the organization has advocated.

The former assemblywoman said of her daughter, “I’m very, very proud that she has taken the reigns.”

Adding a large dose of sentimentality was the presence of several members of Cuadrado’s family, including her brother Juan Jose Cuadrado, who made the presentation.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) had earlier issued a proclamation, part of which was read at the event, commemorating QICA’s 48th anniversary. The senator paid tribute to seniors who “bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the increasingly active roles they play in today’s society.”

It was accepted by QICA’s Executive Director Bruce Cunningham.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz paid tribute to the organization in a message printed in QICA’s annual journal.

“This evening’s event gives us a great opportunity to celebrate the success QICA has had in serving as a borough-wide coalition that brings together more than one hundred organizations and individuals who provide vital services to senior citizens.”

She was represented by Brent Weitzberg, director of Health and Human Services and Seniors, who reiterated Katz’s continued support of seniors.

An estimated 100 guests were in attendance at the event, held in a large reception room at the Queens Community House in Kew Gardens.

Welcome to the discussion.