UPPER MANHATTAN — Two members of the Washington Heights community were honored by the city for their leadership in providing kids with athletic opportunities and adults with financial tools and literacy.
Dr. Norbert Sander and Elba Pichardo were two of 14 individuals or groups to receive one of the 2011 New York City Neighborhood Achievement Awards for their accomplishments working toward revitalizing communities throughout the five boroughs.
The awards “honor organizations, businesses and individuals that have demonstrated excellence in enhancing New York City neighborhoods by fostering economic opportunity,” according to the city.
Sander, the founder and executive director of the Armory Foundation, which hosts the New Balance Track and Field Center on 168th Street and Broadway, was honored for his work “rescuing” the Armory after it fell into disrepair during the '70s and '80s.
The only city resident to ever win the New York City Marathon, Sander restored the space where he logged many miles running and made it into one of the busiest indoor track facilities in the country, hosting over 100 track and field meets each year for more than 125,000 athletes from across the United States.
Close to 2,000 high school students from all over the city practice at the Armory each week.
“Thanks to Sander’s leadership, the Armory has become an anchor to a host of businesses in the neighborhood and an inspiration to the thousands of people who run there,” said city officials in a public statement on the award.
Pichardo, a Vice President of Banco Popular North America, branch manager in Washington Heights and chair board for the Washington Heights Business Improvement District, worked hard to reestablish and strengthen the BID when it faltered over the past several years.
“The results of her leadership are palpable,” read a public statement about the award. “The streets are cleaner and the work of improving both the organization and the community is ongoing.”