By Rebecca Henely
The Child Center of New York, a well-known Woodside nonprofit that helps at-risk children and young people across the city, opened a new Elmhurst branch earlier this month in the name of one of its most dedicated members.
The Hank Auffarth Family Center, at 81-14 Queens Blvd., opened last month and had a ribbon-cutting Dec. 6. The center primarily serves Elmhurst’s large Asian population with programs like mental health services, counseling, substance abuse services, outreach to schools and translation services for parents in communicating with teachers. It also offers a program in child abuse prevention.
The center is named after a longtime board member. Hank Auffarth, known as “Hank from the Bank” due to his many decades in the banking industry, was a former president and board member of the Child Center who was known for championing the organization in the 30 years he was associated with them. He died in 2011.
“He loved children and he loved the Child Center,” said Sandra Hagan, executive director of the Child Center.
Hagan said the nonprofit once had a location in Elmhurst about five blocks away, which served about 500 to 600 kids and parents a year, but it recently received a grant from the city Administration for Children’s Services for the child abuse prevention program, which necessitated a larger space.
“The site that we were in was way too small,” Hagan said.
The Hank Auffarth Family Center is about 2,300 square feet, said Seline Bearman, clinic administrator for the Asian outreach program. The location has 16 full-time and 15 part-time clinicians, and the languages the staff speaks include English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Bengali, Indian, Pakistani, Tibetan, Tagalog and many more.
Bearman said in many Asian populations, it is difficult for patients to open up to mental health providers who not only do not speak their native language, but are unaware of cultural differences.
“We have a lot of families who are traumatized from their immigrant experience,” she said.
State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz and members of Auffarth’s family participated in the ribbon-cutting. Hank’s son, Jason Auffarth, handed out glow-stick necklaces to those assembled before cutting the ribbon.
“I know in my heart my father is looking down from heaven, happy at the turnout that has come out here today,” Jason Aufffarth said.
Hank’s wife, Tisha Auffarth, had tears in her eyes when speaking about the center.
“It’s more than I expected,” she said. “My husband would be very proud.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.