Community Service: Headed by Edwin Westley, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG) fills the neighborhood with music, nature and goodwill. Founded in 1988, this all-volunteer organization hosts street cleanups and orchestral concerts in addition to creating more green spaces and preserving the Jackson Heights historic district.
Westley, who has been involved with JHBG for more than 20 years, said the organization’s commitment extends beyond its greening efforts.
“It shows the community that an organization is dedicated to keeping the neighborhood friendly, safe and welcoming of all our neighbors,” he said.
Background: A Brooklyn native, Westley attended St. Francis Preparatory School and St. Francis College. He received his MBA at Long Island University and raised six children who are now “having wonderful careers and delivering wonderful grandchildren.”
A senior planner at Northrop Grumman until he retired six years ago, Westley’s involvement with the community began with coaching his children’s baseball and basketball teams. He joined JHBG soon after moving to Jackson Heights in 1992.
Favorite Memory: Westley said his most memorable moment as president of JHBG was at a holiday lighting ceremony, when residents came up to him to thank him for his contributions to the community.
“The recognition that we get from the people on the street is more than worthwhile,” he said. “That’s really the ultimate satisfaction one gets in doing this kind of work.”
Biggest Challenge: JHBG is currently fighting three commercial development proposals that they say would take a significant number of acres from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
“We’re waging the good fight against the development,” Westley said. “We think that’s an outrageous attempt by the developers to commercially develop public parkland that belongs to the people.”
Inspiration: The volunteers and members of JHBG inspire Westley the most.
I get satisfaction “knowing that people are always willing to chip in and always willing to fight the good fight,” he said.
BY ROSA KIM