City’s cash woes worry Rich. Hill youth group – QNS.com

City’s cash woes worry Rich. Hill youth group

By Howard Koplowitz

An Elmhurst−based nonprofit that runs after−school programs in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park said its youth programs are in danger of being eliminated if city budget cuts are enacted.

Annetta Seecharran, executive director of Elmhurst−based South Asian Youth Action, said cuts to her organization “will be felt pretty harshly.”

SAYA, which serves 600 kids, is funded by the city Department of Youth and Child Development and provides after−school programs at Richmond Hill and John Adams high schools.

The programs give the students academic support and tutoring and help build self−esteem, Seecharran said.

“Losing any programs for young people is a threat to society,” she said. “If these programs get eliminated, there are no services for these kids. If they’re not here, they’re on the streets.”

“The cuts are deeper than they’ve ever been,” said James Van Bramer, the Queens Library’s chief external affairs officer.

The library, the busiest system in the country, is facing an 18 percent cut from the proposed state budget, or $1.3 million, Van Bramer said. If city cuts go through, the Queens Library would be cut an additional $14 million.

“We are hopeful that the cuts will be averted, but we’re concerned about the scope of them,” Van Bramer said.

If the budgets are approved, the library would look at cutting weekend operations and hours of service and program reductions, including ESL classes, homework assistance and story and toddler times, Van Bramer said. The system’s book budget would also be affected, he said.

“Not having libraries open on Saturdays and Sundays would be a travesty for the people of Queens,” Van Bramer said.

Johanna Martinez, executive director of Filipino−American Human Services Inc. in Jamaica, said her organization is facing a $72,000 cut from its $180,000 operating budget.

“For us, it’s going to be tremendous” if the cuts are enacted, she said.

The organization, which serves 100 youth, provides leadership development workshops for teens, develops cultural identity and instills community service in its kids, Martinez said.

FAASI operates at its Jamaica headquarters and also holds programs at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City and Jamaica High School.

But Martinez said the programs at the high schools will have to be eliminated if the cuts go through.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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