Queens-based women’s organization celebrates grand opening of new facility in Fort Totten

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Photo by Dean Moses

Following a $3 million renovation, a New York-based women’s organization has a new and permanent home in Bayside‘s Fort Totten.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, the Center for the Women of New York (CWNY) celebrated the grand opening of its new facility at 207 Totten Ave. According to CWNY founder Ann Juliano Jawin, the multipurpose facility will serve as a holistic resource for women looking for legal and career advice as well as for victims of domestic violence.

In 1987, Jawin established CWNY along with other professionals and businesswomen in the community. Since its inception, the nonprofit has worked to provide “full equity for women, advocating for their rights and focusing on their unmet needs.”

Prior to opening the new facility, the Center had a building at 401 Weaver St. in Fort Totten in addition to operating out of space in Borough Hall that Melinda Katz donated. After five years, the city evicted CWNY, resulting in a legal battle between the two parties.

As a compromise, the city gave the Center an opportunity to restore the historic landmark building at 207 Totten Ave., which had not been used or maintained for 35 years. The Center signed a lease with the Parks Department and began raising funds for the expensive project.

“The new building will allow the Center to expand its function with corresponding opportunities to reach many more women,” said Jawin. “The renovation of this beautiful historic building will allow not only a ‘home’ for the Center but also permit space for a wider variety of programs. One-third of the building will be used for a women’s history and culture museum, another third for career exploration and training, and the third as a Conference Center where organizations with similar missions can come together and act as a ‘think tank’ to work on the long-standing issues of reproductive rights, domestic violence, pay equity and related women’s issues.”

Project funding came from Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblymen Edward Braunstein and David Weprin, Councilman Paul Vallone, former Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza and private donors.

The Center will occupy the building’s first floor while they raise funds to renovate the additional floors and install an elevator.

“Congratulations to the Center for the Women of New York for its new building in Fort Totten and to its tenacious founder Ann Jawin for her unwavering dedication to improving the lives of women throughout New York City,” said Braunstein. “As a result of Ms. Jawin’s remarkable perseverance during a 16-year battle, we have a beautiful facility in our community that will include a research, conference, and career education center, as well as a living museum dedicated to women’s rights.”

Jawin was a vocal part of the “second-wave” of women’s liberation in the 1970s. During that time, she joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) and became chair of the Task Force for Education and Employment.

Under her leadership, the Center has tackled issues including the elimination of sex trafficking, pay equity, reproductive rights as well as the history of the women’s movement.

“I applaud Ann Jawin for her strategic vision and Herculean efforts to make this a reality,” said Carrozza. “With its beautiful new permanent home, CWNY can expand programs and help many more women to achieve their full potential.”

To learn more, visit www.cwny.org or find the Center on Facebook.

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