By Madina Toure
Less than a year after the National Congress of Black Women announced plans to start a boroughwide chapter in Flushing, the nonprofit already has some programs in place and others in the works.
The chapter is focusing on personal finance and budgeting and engaging people more politically, said Pauline Murray, chairwoman of the Flushing chapter and NCBW’s New York State coordinator.
The chapter expects to launch a program on banking, personal finance and budgeting around March in conjunction with Carver Federal Savings Bank.
Murray said many black people, including those who go on to become rappers or entertainers — and individuals in general — do not know how to manage their money.
“Some of them will die as paupers because in our schools, we have not emphasized personal finance,” she said. “We have emphasized mathematics … many of them do not even know how to write a check. Many do not know the difference between net income and gross income.”
The Flushing chapter currently has 12 members and is seeking to get a few more members. The group meets at the Flushing Library every fourth Sunday.
In April, the nonpartisan nonprofit announced plans to start a boroughwide chapter in Flushing. The group is working on getting the Bronx and Brooklyn chapters established. The nonprofit has more than 100 chapters throughout the country.
Since November, the chapter has been running a food cooperative program with Long Life Unity Food Buyers Collective in Brooklyn.
“It helps defray unnecessary costs for them for delivery to Queens,” Murray said.
A full order, which consists of 20 different fruits and vegetables, costs $35. A half order, which consists of more than 10 different fruits and vegetables, costs $18. The order consists of fresh food. Members can also choose from a variety of fish options, including a 10-pound box of tilapia for $33, a 10-pound box of whitey for $35 and a 22-pound box of whole red snappers for $92.
About 20 people currently participate in the program. Anyone can take part. The program’s cycle is every two weeks.
Starting in March, members will be required to pay an annual membership fee of $25. The fee would be waived if members participated in the budgeting and personal finance program.
Murray said she hopes to establish a relationship with black farmers’ markets and that she would like to expand the program to include nonperishables such as flour, corn meal and maple syrup.
The chapter also started working on a proposal for a recycling business in August that would employ formerly incarcerated individuals. The business would also include job readiness.
The chapter would have the individuals go through assessment phases, which would include general assessment, data collection, questions about their skill sets, their health condition and their housing status. They would also help them get accustomed to resume writing.
The nonprofit will target 15 to 30 people for the first year and then explore the possibility of growth in the future.
The chapter is also supporting Macedonia A.M.E. Church’s Healing Hearts Ministry, a Flushing support group for incarcerated individuals or family members of those who have been imprisoned or still are.
“These young men that might have gotten caught up in robbing and they’ll say, ‘Ms. Murray, I did it because my baby needed milk,” Murray said. “I’m not saying it was right for them to do that, by no means, but I can understand what they’re saying.”
For Black History Month, Murray says the congress hope to support other events and programs as opposed to creating their own in an effort to encourage unity.
“Let’s come together now,” she said. “Let’s stop feeling our greatness is strictly about what I can do or what I have done. Let’s do it as a people and work together.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4566.