Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and locals plead for Beacon program


In danger of shutting its doors, a Forest Hills Beacon Program’s last hope may be a plea from a local politician.

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi sent a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg objecting to the possible closure of the Queens Community House Beacon Program, currently housed in J.H.S. 190.

Queens Community House is a network of social service providers, assisting nearly 30,000 people borough-wide with benefits such as tutoring and athletics, as well as classes for General Education Diploma (GED) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

The Beacon Program, a subset of Queens Community House, is a “youth-development center,” providing year-round, complementary services, specializing in young people ages six to 21 and focusing on leadership and skill growth.

According to a representative from Hevesi’s office, funding for the Beacon Program is allocated in the mayor’s budget for a fiscal year (FY). The Queens Community House Beacon Program at J.H.S. 190 has funding through June 30, 2012, according to the representative.

However, if no funds are appropriated by July 1 (the start of the 2012-2013 FY), the J.H.S. 190 program will most likely face termination.
The representative was unsure as to where the original recommendation for closure began.

According to Patrick Pinchinat, director of Queens Community House Beacon Program at J.H.S. 190, the center is at risk because it resides in a “low-needs zone,” – an area with a relatively low poverty rate and average socioeconomic standing. Pinchinat alleged that 16 Beacons are in danger, including centers in Bayside and Flushing.
Pinchinat said that since the J.H.S. 190 branch was included under a list of potentially closing centers, community advocacy for the Beacon Program has skyrocketed.
“There have been a lot of efforts around [keeping this center open],” said Pinchinat. “[The center] is something that’s really needed in the community. It’s a safe haven we have constructed with activities for young people. We further education. Not only are we after school programs, but we are other services too.”

The J.H.S. 190 program, which opened in 1998, services youth from Long Island City, Jamaica, Rosedale and Woodside, particularly catering to children of minority groups.

“[The Beacon Program] is a reflection of what New York City is: a snapshot of ethnicities and culture,” said Pinchinat. “We’re going to fight because it’s a worthy cause and something the community wants us to do.”

The mayor’s office could not be reached as of press time.

Photo courtesy of Queens Community House Beacon Program at J.H.S. 190

Children who participate in the Queens Community House Beacon Program at J.H.S. 190 are in danger of losing their facility because of lack of funding.

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