Ed Wendell (r.) joins with members of the Woodhaven community to beautify a historic neighborhood cemetery. Photo by Cesar Bustamante

Ed Wendell (r.) joins with members of the Woodhaven community to beautify a historic neighborhood cemetery. Photo by Cesar Bustamante

Originally published in Forum.

Years of neglect have left the tombstones at the historic Wyckoff-Snedicker Family Cemetery covered in overgrown greenery. But last week, members of the Woodhaven community moved in behind All Saints Episcopal Church with rakes and gloves, ready to clear out weeds as part of a project to make the resting place of historical families like Elmhurst and Ditmars accessible to the public.

“The community needs to own this,” said Ed Wendell, Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society President. “This is an important part of our history. It’s an important part of Queens history.”

The cemetery has been inaccessible for clean up until recently when All Saints Episcopal Church moved into the space after the church, then St. Matthews, was closed in 2011.

Rev. Norman Whitmire, Jr, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, spoke with members of the St. Thomas the Apostle’s Woodhaven History Club and Woodhaven Cultural Society, who said they were interested in having access to the cemetery.

Whitmire said he wants the church to be a shinning light in the community and hopes the cemetery can become a resource for people in the neighborhood.

“[My plan] is to make it, because it’s a nice space, into a quiet space – a place of serenity and prayer,” he said. “Eventually providing a meditative space for people to come and relax and meditate.”

Wendell also said he wants to start a group similar to Friends of Maple Grove, which takes care of the cemetery in Kew Gardens, but for Wyckoff-Snedicker Family Cemetery. Every month, he said he had plans to gather people and organizations to help clear out the tall weeds in the cemetery.

“I’m hoping people will see this as a way to come out, get some exercise, meet some friends and neighbors,” Wendell said. “We’ve got people in this community who’ve lived here their whole lives meeting each other for the first time today. This is a great community event,” he said.

For more information and to find out when the next clean up is happening, go to ProjectWoodhaven.com.