Thursday, August 20, 2009

Youth Council Prepares to Renovate New Building

Busy Summer Included Cancer Awareness Event

By Conor Greene

It's been a busy summer for the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, which recently closed on its new building, hosted a cancer awareness day and ran its annual summer camps, which serve more than 1,000 local children and provide hundreds of jobs.

New Building Effort

Using $1 million provided by former State Senator Serf Maltese, the council took over the former Garity Post building on Fairview Avenue earlier this month and is looking forward to renovating it to fit the group's needs, said GRYC Director Bob Monahan.

"We now own the building which is great... We did it here [at its current Myrtle Avenue home] 10 years ago and we're ready to rock and roll again," he said of the upcoming construction effort. "The classrooms will be state of the art, the office and community meeting space is better. It's a home run for everyone."

The project is funded by $1,750,000 provided by the Queens City Council delegation headed by Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Diana Reyna (D-Bushwick) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). Also assisting is Borough President Helen Marshall ($500,000), State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood). "It was truly a concerted effort by all of our elected officials, past and present, to get us going," said Monahan. "It's nice to be doing something that everyone knows will benefit the community."

Since the city funds come as a reimbursement, the council is planning on borrowing on the equity of the new building so it can begin the renovations. "We have to spend the money, start fixing, submit bills and then start getting reimbursed," the director explained. The move was necessitated when the council found out last year its monthly rent on Myrtle Avenue would double to $10,000.

Cancer Awareness at PS 153

As part of its summer programs, the council recently held a Cancer Awareness Day, inspired by several of the GRYC and school's staff members. "As a youth council, we have a couple of women battling breast cancer, so PS 153 having one who is in the fight for her life, they decided to have a cancer awareness day to show support for her and other women battling cancer," said Monahan.

The day included shows and songs, along with a painting presented to Councilwoman Crowley, who participated in the day. "I am saddened by how many people in this world continue to suffer every day from this disease and how many lives are taken," she said, adding that she and a staff member have both personally lost loved ones to the disease. "It not only hurts the person with the illness but deeply impacts all those who love them."

Crowley pointed to early detection as an important part of the fight against cancer. "When cancers are caught early and treated, people have a higher chance of surviving longer and beating the disease. I know what you are doing today will save lives tomorrow," she told the children, who raised several hundred dollars that day.

Overall this summer, the GRYC served 1,000 local children at its camps and provided jobs to 800 young adults, reported Monahan. "We had an awesome summer and spent $1 million for kids in the summertime," he said.

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