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New Delegates Join Beeps General Assembly – QNS.com

New Delegates Join Beeps General Assembly

The Queens General Assembly installed 25 new delegates, meant to represent the diversity of Queens residents, on Tuesday, September 28 as the assembly enters its second year of existence as a forum for the concerns, problems and cultural expression of the Queens community. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall created the assembly last year to open a space for community leaders to meet one another, learn about the other cultures represented in Queens neighborhoods, and discuss difficulties and needs.
"I think it has been very effective," said Joyce Moy, an advisory committee member and representative of the Small Business Development Center at LaGuardia Community College. Moy said the best, and most surprising, outcome of the assembly has been the amount shared by the various communities represented. "There are tremendous commonalities between communities."
The first event organized by the assembly in January 2004 was a Festival of Lights that reflected the centrality of light in nearly every religious and cultural tradition practiced in Queens. "Just about every community has a celebration for light," said Mala Desai, an advisory committee member and executive director of the Northern Queens Health Coalition, who added that the assemblys mission is "to generate a harmonious life for people of Queens."
In addition to planning their own events, the assembly encourages its delegates to attend events put on in different communities to increase awareness and understanding of other cultures.
The General Assembly is also supposed to be a place where community leaders can bring up problems either specific to their communities or existing between different groups. Over the past year, delegates and the advisory committee have met monthly to talk about issues ranging from hate and bias crimes to education and health care access. Experts have addressed the assembly on issues of particular concern. "At least we create awareness…so we as community leaders could bring back information to our communities," said Desai.
Although they dont necessarily have the power to make policy, Moy said the assembly is helpful for solving problems because community leaders can find support and resources by networking with other delegates.
"We each have some resources," said Moy. "Its a question of creating networks between communities."
While advisory committee members will stay on for the new session, new delegates have been chosen to represent each of the community boards and various cultural and social organizations. Some of the old delegates plan on attending meetings this year as alumni delegates, where they will act as mentors and advisors to the new delegates.
Moy said the expansion of the assembly to include both experienced and new members will further the assemblys mission of building a strong network between diverse communities. "Little by little, were making that circle wider," said Moy.
E-mail this reporter at sarah@queenscourier.com.

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