Nonprofit Safe Space returns to Jamaica

Renee Hicks, (l.) the vice president of program operations for Safe Space, and Christine Molnar, the president and CEO of the non profit, review blueprints at the Jamaica site of their new headquarters. The group will move in next week. Photo courtesy of Philip Greenberg
By Ivan Pereira

For nearly a century, the nonprofit Safe Space has been helping southeast Queens families by offering various services, but for the last two decades the group’s main offices were located in Manhattan.

On Monday, the group will make its return to Jamaica with an expanded facility at 89-74 162nd St. designed to reach more needy clients. Safe Space’s executive director, Christine Molnar, said she is excited about the move not only because the office will be serving 10,000 clients in the borough, but also because it will be part of the revival effort in the downtown Jamaica district.

“It’s been vacant for 20 years,” Molnar said of the space that used to be the offices for the Jamaica Bar Association. “We’ve been able to build it out to fit our needs.”

The space features three floors with several rooms dedicated to Safe Space’s programs. Along with helping at-risk children, Safe Space will provide counseling to parents to prevent them from losing their children to foster care and offer pre-natal care to expectant mothers and after-school activities for the youth.

A staff of 95 social workers and other professionals will be on hand and are experienced with all types of family-related issues.

“We can ensure that when families start out, they start out strong,” the executive director said.

The new office will be combining the four centers located throughout southeast Queens so visitors can have a one-stop shop for any service they need. Being in a central location will open the group up to dozens of new clients since it is right in the heart of downtown Jamaica and easily accessible by mass transit.

“Clients and our community will be able to get help from early childhood to young adulthood,” Molnar said. “This will be our hub.”

Founded in 1919, Safe Space was initially created as a children’s protective agency, but as the years went by the Queens-based group began to branch out with other related services. The program’s success enabled it to expand with satellite offices throughout southeast Queens, including Far Rockaway, and offered other services including parent counseling, anger management and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Twenty years ago, Safe Space moved its corporate office to Manhattan due to its growth. Although the nonprofit was doing well in Manhattan, Molnar said she and her fellow staff members always yearned to bring their office back to its clients’ doorsteps.

“The move is really a significant commitment and recommitment to serving the families of southeast Queens,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

More from Around New York