There’s Strength In Numbers
In my years serving on the Board of Directors of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), I have been lucky to meet so many neighbors who care deeply about their community.
You probably know some of them, or you might be one of them yourself. They’re the neighbors who take an active interest in Woodhaven, who carve time out of their busy schedules to attend the WRBA’s town halls, and who do all sorts of things- large and small-to make their neighborhood a better place.
There are many of these residents, and they’re a huge reason why the WRBA has been especially successful the last few years.
Just look at some of what we’ve accomplished: successfully protesting a misguided attempt to change the direction of traffic on two Woodhaven streets last year, rallying last month to insist our neighborhood not be carved up by a gerrymander, speaking out to save our fire stations or library from the chopping block, banding together to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in other neighborhoods, and taking up paintbrushes to erase graffiti from our streets.
The WRBA has shown time and again that we can make a real difference when our members take action for Woodhaven. We have gotten things done, and it’s due to these many concerned, active residents.
The WRBA’s success carries with it a powerful lesson: There’s strength in numbers.
Time and again, we’ve had impressive turnouts at our town halls. Standing-room-only crowds no longer surprise us. And some of our meetings-for example, our forum last September about the future of the inactive railroad tracks that run along 98th Street-result in packed halls with well over a hundred attendees.
Our elected officials compliment the WRBA, remarking on how impressed they are by our turnouts. Apparently, as civic groups go, we’re doing pretty well. It would be easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished.
I’d like to look at it differently. I’d like to think about how much further we have to go.
According to the last census, Woodhaven’s population is approximately 39,000. That means that if we have 100 residents show up at one of our town halls, that’s only about twotenths of one percent of Woodhaven’s population. Surely we can do better than that.
That minuscule percentage shouldn’t be a reason for despair. Instead, it should be a reminder of how much potential Woodhaven has, and a sign that the WRBA’s best days are ahead.
If we’re managing to accomplish so much now, think about what we could do if one percent of Woodhaven- 390 people-came to our town halls. It seems improbable; rare is the civic group that regularly draws hundreds of attendees. But are we really aiming too high if we want just one percent of our neighbors to become active WRBA members?
It’s almost unbelievable to imagine how productive the WRBA could be with that sort of turnout. No problem would lie beyond our capabilisurrounding ties.
So let me make a request: Help us grow our ranks. If you regularly attend our town halls, bring a new friend next time. And if you don’t regularly come, please stop by the next one. It will be on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m., at the Woodhaven- Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps (78-15 Jamaica Ave.).
There’s strength in numbers. Our numerous current members have proved that over and over. With your help, we can make the WRBA even stronger-and make Woodhaven an even greater community.
Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is a member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For more information on the WRBA, visit www.woodhavennyc.org.