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Though the Kew Gardens−based Center for the Women of New York was awarded both a house in Bayside and a $900,000 grant from City Councilman David Weprin (D−Hollis) to renovate the Fort Totten place it hopes to call home, center Director Ann Jawin said red tape has prevented the non−profit from moving into the building they say they need to effectively run their services.
The city Department of Design and Construction informed Jawin that the nonprofit must produce start−up funds in order to receive the $900,000 secured by the councilman.
“They want us to advance the $900,000, and they say they’ll reimburse us,” Jawin said. “How do I come up with that kind of money? We’re a nonprofit. I’m asking the mayor’s office to help us to get through this bottleneck because we can’t come up with this money.”
City officials did not return phone calls for comment.
After the city had forced the center from its former location in Fort Totten in 2002 to make room for a Fire Department facility, Jawin took the city to court and was awarded the house at 207 Totten Ave. Until the center is able to renovate the roomy Fort Totten building, they will remain in Room 325 of Queens Borough Hall, which center employees and volunteers said is too small for the programs they run.
“It’s very cramped in Borough Hall,” said Anne−Marie Ditta, leader of the center’s job club, which helps unemployed women find successful career paths. “There was one time we had to meet in the bathroom to have our needed privacy.”
Bayside resident Nancy Abraham said additional space for the non−profit would allow the center to aid more women like herself.
“I’ve had three temp positions in the last year, and I just lost the last one,” said Abraham, who has been attending the job club for about a month. “I’m working with two close friends to open up our own business, and the job club has really helped me. Anne−Marie has helped us set up resumes and taught us to communicate better.”
“The new space would make a big difference because they could have more resources, like computers,” she added.
Mary Ann Maltese, chief of staff for state Assemblywoman Ann−Margaret Carrozza (D−Bayside), who has secured about $375,000 for the center, said the legislator wants to “see if we can help them get access to the funds.”
“When we go back to Albany, we want to see if we can do something to help them.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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