BY TRONE DOWD
In a show of gratitude for Southeast Queens seniors, Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) hosted a senior breakfast at Jamaica’s popular Thomasina Catering Hall Tuesday morning as part of Senior Appreciation Month.
More than 100 of the community’s seniors showed up to socialize, joke and enjoy Thomasina’s famous dining. The annual tradition has been going for 15 years strong in Southeast Queens, according to Miller, and is an opportunity to show trailblazers in the community how much the generations who followed them appreciate their sacrifices.
“We get to honor those whose shoulders we stand on,” Miller said. “When you look at the folks in this room, you’ll see World War II veterans, Korean and Vietnam War veterans, veterans of the labor movement, folks who have migrated from the Jim Crow south and the Caribbean. These are the people who really went through some stuff themselves.”
Senior Appreciation Month has grown significantly since its inception. Today, elected officials from across the five boroughs come to Southeast Queens every September to celebrate the month. On Tuesday, Public Advocate Letitia James and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz dropped by the event to converse with seniors dining on traditional soul food.
“You seniors hold up the sky,” James told the room of seniors in her brief remarks. “We should never forget that.”
Miller told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that he takes pride in the great accomplishments of Southeast Queens and added that people who long ago settled in neighborhoods such as Jamaica and St. Albans have made their communities count.
“They pioneered this community,” Miller said.
Miller said that, as a child, the relationship he had with his parents made him into the advocate he has become. He recalled tagging along with his father when he was fighting for workers’ rights, advocating on behalf of Queens’ children on the local school board and working with local clergy.
“When everyone else was playing baseball and fishing, I was walking around with picket signs and marching,” he said. “This kind of advocacy and leadership comes from these folks.”
But Miller is not the only community leader observing Senior Appreciation Month. State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) held a free screening of the Academy Award nominated film “Fences” at Jamaica Multiplex on Friday. Miller and Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) organized a gospel concert on Saturday afternoon at York College. U.S. Rep Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) held a screening of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit”—which is set amidst the 1967 riots in the titular city—at Jamaica Multiplex on Monday. On Tuesday, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) was scheduled to hold his annual “Doo Wop in the Park” event at Springfield Park at 3 p.m.
“These seniors make what I do possible,” Miller said. “They’ve paved the path. We have to maintain this legacy. We have to tell that story.”