YWCA head hails Queens chapter’s programs

By Alex Robinson

The chief executive officer of YWCA USA paid a visit to the organization’s Queens location in Flushing last week to stress the impact the nonprofit has on local communities.

Dr. Dara Richardson’s visit was part of an effort to highlight local affiliations of the organization across the country and to emphasize that each of the 227 local chapters that make up the nationwide organization has individual characteristics that help them serve their community.

“We provide services and support to women that meet the needs in their respective communities,” she told YWCA board members, employees and reporters at a news conference. “We are not a one-size-fits-all organization.”

Richardson said the YWCA of Queens’ education, career services, home health and social services programs are what make it unique and allow it to meet the demands of the community it serves.

“If you aren’t taking the temperature of the community and deciding what your community needs, then you aren’t doing great work,” Richardson said.

Since it is in the city’s most diverse borough, the YWCA of Queens aims to help the needs of new immigrants through its language services and other programs, she said.

Its members speak a long list of languages that includes English, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Farsi, Hindi and Urdu.

The Queens affiliate also prides itself on its GED program, English as a Second Language courses and its senior and youth programs, Richardson said.

“Those are key programs in this community that are meeting a very distinct need,” she said.

The YWCA of Queens, at 42-07 Parsons Blvd., was founded in 1978 with the mission to eliminate racism and empower women through advocacy and education.

In 2013, the YWCA of Queens served more than 2,500 children, women and men through its programs and events.

“The YWCA of Queens serves the highest percentage of Asian community members in the country,” said Helen Kim, executive director, of the Flushing organization. “So it is wonderful to have Dara meet some of the board members, staff and program participants and understand the needs of our local community.”

State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), the state Legislature’s youngest female lawmaker, attended the event to show her support for the organization.

“Without a place like this where young girls can start learning, where young women can congregate, there really is nowhere else in Queens for us to do that. Ground zero for the power of women starts here,” she said.

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