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For Immediate Release: Contact:
Thursday, February 9, 2006 Corey Bearak
(718) 343-6779


Statement to the Queens Borough Board, Thursday, February 9, 2006
Presented by Gail Eisenberg, Executive Director
Prepared Corey Bearak, Esq., Chair, Executive Committee

Thank you for this opportunity for the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council [�NEQJCC� or �Northeast Queens�] to comment on the City Budget for Fiscal Year 2007 which begins July 1, 2006.  The Council represents synagogues and other community, educational, fraternal, and religious institutions and organizations in some of the communities which form the City's backbone: Bayside, Bay Terrace, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hillcrest, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Until the year before last (2004), the NEQJCC relied solely on UJA-Federation to service the community.  After we achieved our 501.C3 we began to expand outreach,  neighborhood development, educational and  youth and family cultural programs and forge new community partnerships to improve life in Queens.  This included a new partnership with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (�Met Council�), in addition to our ongoing relationship with our human services partner, the Samuel Field/Bay Terrace YM&YWHA.  Using one staff member, Northeast Queens last fiscal year added two food drives; this year we continue these programs joined by toy and clothing drives, began a healthy marriage program funded by Met Council and, with the support of the City Council, especially $30,000 from former Speaker Miller and Finance Chair David Weprin � thank you Councilman Weprin for your steadfast support in the last two City budgets, and $3,500 from Councilman John Liu, we initiated the planning on an Anti-Bias program, the �Harmony Initiative� or �HI�.    The City's Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the Queens District Attorney, as well as the NAACP Northeast Branch partner in its planning.  HI programs will occur after initial planning sessions involving multiple stakeholders who represent the diversity of our communities in Community Boards 7, 8, 11 and 13.  The Council believes this collaboratively developed model offers multiple opportunities for similar programs elsewhere.

For fiscal year 2007, Northeast Queens seeks $45,000 to maintain and enhance the model HI program and $55,000 for a Harmony (Initiative) Concert Series; it would feature a diverse lineup of performers to help bring neighbors in our borough together.  We aim to include additional parks besides Cunningham, where an existing Jewish Music Under the Stars, Opera and Philharmonic concerts takes place, to Crocheron, Alley and perhaps Peck.

Northeast Queens  also requests $23,000 to fund a permanent food pantry, which will serve needy community resident.   The growing need for this food pantry became evident during our first food drive when we collected over 2,000 pounds of food in one month and distributed every pound to hungry Queens residents.

If every council member provides at least $5,000 from DYCD or other allocations, we can make realize our modest goals.

Why invest in our community council?  More than any other non-profit, our lay leaders and members invest much time and effort in our programs.  In addition to the food, clothing and toy drive programs noted above, Northeast Queens organized a program to educate the public on the Medicare Prescription Drug Card for the second year in a row,  and helped organize other programs with other organizations.  Our Annual Legislative Forum introduces offers the community opportunities to meet major public officials and those who seek higher office.  Our programs - widely publicized -- are open to and attended by members of our borough's diverse communities.  Northeast Queens maintains one of the most effective programs to get the word out using both traditional and new technologies.

Our human services partner, the Samuel Field YM&YWHA serves senior, youth and special needs populations.  Northeast Queens appreciate past support for the "Y," particularly from our elected officials; it's important the budget adequately resource the Y's programs.  This includes Beacon schools in Bayside, Fresh Meadows and Floral Park.

A special initiative in parts of Bellerose, Floral Park and New Hyde Park, the NORC-WOW -- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community Without Walls, offers a new and unique model to extend a program that delivers senior services to apartment complex residents to homeowner communities.  Northeast Queens which played the key role in forging the community and political partnerships needed for this unique model, thanks the City Council for supporting NORC WOW in the budget.  This initiative of the Samuel Field Y merits your continued support as we endeavor to make this model program work and offer a basis for similar NORC-WOW's throughout Queens (and the City).    Helping seniors stay in their homes and communities longer -- rather than moving on to a nursing homes -- saves significant taxpayer dollars on the Medicaid side. 

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty also serves needy populations and merits your continued support. At our Legislation Forum 2004, many of you inspected Met Council's "Project Handyman" van; this fully equipped mobile hardware store provides small repairs for seniors and others who need assistance; NEQJCC urges funding to make the vans roll again.
We would also be remiss not to note the need for seven day service, particularly on Sundays, at all of our branch libraries.  Many northeast branch offer only weekday service.  We also support Meals on Wheels programs for our homebound seniors.

Thank you.

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