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Internet center draws seniors to Sunnyside

Harriet Novet of Time Warner Cable (l. to r.), U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Judy Zangwill of Sunnyside Community Services plan to cut the cake for the one year anniversary of the senior center's technology center, paid for by Time Warner Cable. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

Representatives of Time Warner Cable and about 60 friends of Sunnyside Community Services, a senior center, gathered Monday afternoon to celebrate the birthday of the facility’s technology center, which opened there about a year ago.

“I saw those young people teach seniors how to use a computer today, and that was really exciting,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), who attended the event at 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside,

The birthday party, which came complete with a cake, recognized the technology lab on the center’s first floor. Outfitted with Internet-ready computers, a high-definition television and digital cameras, the center has been used by both seniors who come during the day and take computer literacy-related courses as well as students and parents of all ages who use the equipment for after-school programs in the late afternoon and evening.

Judy Zangwill, executive director for Sunnyside Community Services, said the lab serves 1,000 customers a year.

Those who turned out to see the lab included Maloney, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood), City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), students from PS 150 at 40-01 43rd Ave. in Sunnyside and members of India Home, a group of Indian seniors who visit Sunnyside Community Services every Monday.

“Sunnyside Community Services is one of the best things about Queens,” Van Bramer said.

The center began offering classes in May 2010, but the idea for it came about several months earlier in February, said Monica Guzman, development director for Sunnyside Community Services.

Harriet Novet, regional vice president at Time Warner Cable, said the company approached the senior center with the offer to build them a laboratory for $100,000, based on the center’s reputation and services for seniors.

“I only wish that my grandma had a place like Sunnyside Community Services,” Novet said.

She said this is the second lab the company has built for a nonprofit in New York City. The first was in Harlem and more are planned for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Velazquez thanked Time Warner Cable for helping students to bridge the gap and compete in the global economy by becoming computer literate.

“This type of partnership is the most important one,” she said.

Van Bramer said places like Sunnyside Community Center’s lab provide access to technology for those who do not have it at home.

“Technology is like a key,” Van Bramer said. “It opens the door to the future.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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