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Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS
Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS
Members of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, local elected officials and community leaders officially opened the new Serphin R. Maltese Community Center.

Ridgewood children now have another place to play and learn.

The former Joseph Garity Veterans Post was officially renamed the Serphin R. Maltese Community Center by the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council (GRYC) on Friday, Dec. 2, as the organization’s newest facility to cater to the neighborhood’s youth.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 776 Fairview Ave., Maltese — the former state senator — was on hand for the ceremony in which GRYC President Bob Monahan thanked all the elected officials who worked to get the funding together over the years to finally open this new facility. They included state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblyman Mike Miller, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna and Maltese.

“In 2008, a guy named Serf Maltese thought it was necessary to help the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council have a permanent home,” Monahan said. “Senator Serphin Maltese appropriated $1 million to purchase this building. Then, along with Cathy Nolan and Mike Miller, more money was added to the mix, and today you get to witness and see the results of that collective effort.”

After purchasing the property for the GRYC, it remained an unused warehouse for many years. That is when the other elected officials pitched in and allocated $1.75 million to fix up the building. The following year, another $700,000 was given to equip the building, Monahan said.

“No one person could have done this alone,” he added. “But collectively, you must admit and when you walk around this building you will see, this is an amazing, amazing facility.”

The GRYC serves 2,700 children each day, and this new facility will add to that number by serving a special needs universal pre-K (UPK) class and providing daycare services. There will only by one pre-K class this coming year, but that number will increase to four classes next year.

“This community is unique,” Maltese said. “I don’t care what anyone says; it is unique as far as organizations, as far as policies and as far as elected officials. We work together irrespective of party; despite party, we had worked together for years and years, and that has continued.”

Maltese was actually a member of the former Garity Post for more than 60 years, and was happy to learn that the original Garity Post sign will remain atop the building even as the site now bears his name.

“For over 30 years, Bob Monahan and the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council have been a great community asset providing much needed services like pre-K, after-school programs and summer youth employment to many parents, students and residents in Ridgewood,” Nolan said in a statement. “This additional building will allow the youth council to do even more by providing them the necessary space to offer additional services and programs for our community.”

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