Local Heroes recognized by Queens Community House



Queens Community House (QCH) celebrated its annual “Celebrating Heroes” event on June 12th, honoring two local figures and paying homage to its roots in the Forest Hills community. This year marked a decade since the event’s inception, drawing in residents, businesses, and volunteers who have been pivotal to QCH’s mission.

Founded in 1975 as Forest Hills Community House, QCH has grown to encompass 57 programs across 37 sites, serving over 25,000 Queens residents annually. The organization’s mission focuses on alleviating poverty and supporting families across three generations.

“We got our start right here in Forest Hills and do everything from early childhood to after school programming college and career oriented programming for young adults, adult education for immigrants,” Executive Director, Ben Thomases said. “And Senior Services, we have older adult centers and home delivered meals for homebound seniors. So, lot of different services.”

Mohamed Farghaly

Queens Community House celebrated its annual “Celebrating Heroes” event on June 12th, commemorating a decade of honoring local figures and reaffirming its roots in Forest Hills.


The event showcased artwork from five senior centers, each contributing pieces created by their older adult populations, reflecting the vibrant creativity and talent within the community.

“Queens Community House got its start in the Forest Hills community,”  Ade Omotade, Director of Development said. “Although we’ve expanded now to work in kind of all parts of Queens, we consider Forest Hills kind of our home base. And so, this event is one where we pay homage to Forest Hills. Today we honor two Forest Hills trailblazers. We do the event in Forest Hills. And many of the people who come out are Forest Hills businesses, vendors or residents who live in the community. So, it’s very local, we keep it a very local event.”

The event highlighted two trailblazers deeply connected to the Forest Hills community. Paul Khahera, a dedicated volunteer for 25 years, was recognized for his service at QCH’s pantry.  Sal Favia, former QCH Board Member and event founder, was honored for his role in establishing the event a decade ago.

Khahera, a dedicated volunteer at the Forest Hills Older Adult Center, was honored with the Irma Rodriguez Community Builder Award during the Queens Community House’s annual Celebrating Local Heroes event. Originally from India, Khahera immigrated to Queens in 1972 and has since become an integral part of the community. For over two decades, he has selflessly contributed his time to various roles at QCH, including assisting in the kitchen, managing the food pantry, and providing support in the office.

 “I get involved because it’s our neighborhood, you know, lots of different, different nationalities,” Khahera said. “People come there, and it’s very good for the old people to help out.”

His dedication extends beyond his daily responsibilities; Khahera ensures that essential services like the food pantry operate smoothly, offering vital support to neighbors in need. His commitment and positive spirit have made a lasting impact on the Forest Hills community, earning him admiration and recognition at the award ceremony.

Khahera’s journey from a career in computer engineering to volunteerism exemplifies the transformative power of community involvement.

Paul Khahera, a devoted volunteer at QCH’s Forest Hills Older Adult Center for over 25 years, received the Irma Rodriguez Community Builder Award for his selfless service and commitment to his neighborhood.


Sal Favia, former board member and co-founder of Queens Community House’s annual Celebrating Local Heroes event, was honored for his significant contributions during this year’s ceremony. Favia joined QCH’s board a decade ago, drawn by the organization’s comprehensive services and impactful community outreach. His tenure saw the inception of the spring fundraiser, now a cornerstone event honoring local trailblazers and fostering community cohesion.

“When I did join, it was a really great experience,” Favia said. “We got to serve the community, which is really, really cool.” It’s really neat that they chose me, and it feels really good to be recognized for doing the work that I did in the organization.”

Beyond board responsibilities, Favia actively engaged in volunteer efforts at QCH’s Pomona Center, organizing festive events and food distributions with colleagues.

“Not only is Queens Community House important to the community, but I think it’s really important to give back,” Favia said. “And these volunteer events and serving the people in the community and bringing them to a better place also gives you a good feeling about yourself and the things that you’re doing. So, they’ve been expanding their programs, and it’s incredible how much they’ve expanded over the last 10 years. But I really think it’s important to keep the community together as a whole.”

His dedication to community service continues to inspire, highlighting QCH’s role in promoting inclusivity and resilience across Queens.

Sal Favia, former QCH Board Member and co-founder of the “Celebrating Heroes” event, was recognized for his pivotal role in establishing the event.


Over the years, QCH has remained steadfast in its dedication to Queens, adapting its services to meet the diverse and complex needs of its residents.

The “Celebrating Heroes” event not only celebrates individuals but also underscores QCH’s ongoing mission to foster community resilience and empowerment across Queens.

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