Korean nonprofits combine in historic merger

Photo by Alex Robinson
By Alex Robinson

Two Flushing Korean nonprofits which have a shared mission of empowering children, women and families affected by domestic violence, merged last week.

The Korean American Family Service Center and the Women in Need Center signed an affiliation agreement Jan. 2, bringing the boards and staff of both organizations under one roof.

“We view the combined strengths of our organizations as truly collaborative as well as innovative, with more opportunities to provide better, comprehensive services to our clients,” said Dr. Eun Sook Bang, board chairman of WINC.

The merger is a historic one for Flushing’s Korean community, which has not seen an affiliation of this sort between two nonprofits before, said Hellen Kim, manager of community relations for KAFSC.

“It’s actually unprecedented that two nonprofit orgs would look to unite their strength through a merger. It historically hasn’t happened and it’s a good sign that the Korean community is moving forward,” she said.

The combined entity will continue under the name of the larger KAFSC. The merger will combine the two organizations’ structures, budgets, resources and programming.

Both organizations acknowledge they are not the same but do similar work, and that by combining their resources and strengths, they will be able to increase their capacity to help those in need.

“We know each organization will have to lose a bit of its identity to merge and create the next organization,” Kim said.

KAFSC has provided counseling services and community education programs for families affected by domestic violence since it was founded 25 years ago. It has a number of different educational programs for adults, children and youth seeking help or refuge from violence.

KAFSC said it served 1,800 individuals in fiscal year 2013. The organization has a bilingual hotline, 718-460-3800, which is open 24 hours a day.

WINC has served as an emergency shelter for battered women and children for 21 years. WINC also offers counseling and advocacy services.

“We value WINC’s staff and shelter services greatly and they will always be a great asset to the community, broadening our ability to serve more women and children in need,” said Sarah BJ Sung, the KAFSC board chairwoman.

Now that the two are merged, KAFSC has said that it intends to use its funding to pay off the remaining mortgage on the shelter.

The new organization will be headed by Jungsook Grace Yoon. KAFSC’s board chairwoman, Sarah BJ Sung, will be head of the combined board, which will have 23 members.

Both organizations will have the same contact information for the first three months while the transition takes place. WINC’s staff will be moving to the same building KAFSC occupies in Flushing Jan. 15.

The location for both organizations is confidential, as they deal with victims of domestic abuse.

Representatives from both organizations assured that services currently being received by individuals at either organization will not change.

Board members also announced a $100,000 donation to the new combined organization by a donor who wished to be anonymous.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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