"I've never experienced that in my life before," said Zwerenz, 76, a lifelong Glendale resident and active community member who has worked on countless community projects around western Queens. "It was unbelievable."
If anyone deserves it, Zwerenz might be the one. After receiving the award from the property group, where he serves as the Sergeant of Arms, Zwerenz reflected on the achievement, and spoke of the work that still needs to be done to ensure a safe and thriving community for generations to come.
Zwerenz was born in Woodside, but moved with his family to Glendale when he was a toddler. The family settled into a house overlooking the Jackie Robinson Parkway that Zwerenz said his grandfather purchased in the late 1920's. Zwerenz has lived in Glendale ever since.
After attending Queens College, Zwerenz worked briefly on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, but decided quickly that wasn't the career he wanted.
"My boss told me I'd be better off making my own action," Zwerenz said, and true to his boss's word, that's exactly what he went on to do.
He worked for years as a salesman peddling a variety of goods around the greater New York metropolitan area. He said his favorite was a stint selling copy machines because at the time few knew what they were.
It wasn't till the 1980's, though, that Zwerenz made a name for himself in the successful fight to stop the MTA from electrifying the Montaulk railroad line that runs through Glendale on its way to Long Island City. Zwerenz teamed up with other community leaders and elected officials to oppose the project. For his effort, he was awarded the Glendale Chamber of Commerce "Man of the Year" in 1985.
Since then, he has continued to work with several community groups. Today, he can be found at meetings sitting in the front, watching the door to jot down the names of everyone who comes in - as dedicated to Glendale as he was three decades ago.
"It's a great place to grow up," said Zwerenz. "What we're trying to do always is maintain the quality of life in Glendale. That's what its all about."