Queens Community House breaks ground on renovation of Forest Hills center

QCH Photo 1 (1)
Elected officials from across the borough take part in a groundbreaking for Queens Community House’s renovations at its Forest Hills community center. (Photo courtesy of Queens Community House)

Queens Community House (QCH), one of the boroughs largest social service organizations, recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the renovation of the Forest Hills Community Center, its original and largest program site.

A number of elected officials took part in the event, and QCH executive director Ben Thomases thanked them for helping secure the more than $9 million of public funding for the project.

“The improvement of and addition to these program spaces is critical to meet the needs of the communities QCH serves throughout the borough of Queens,” Thomases said. “QCH eagerly looks forward to welcoming our neighbors back to a transformed and truly dignified space.”

The renovation of the Forest Hills Community Center, located at 108-25 62nd Dr., is scheduled to begin in August, with a grand opening anticipated next summer.

Several of the speakers noted the poignancy of the renovation, coming at a time when many of the central Queens families served by the center are still reeling from the pandemic and its aftermath.

“COVID exacerbated many of the issues that impact our communities around healthcare, around safety, around education — we saw all of these disparities,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “But coming out of this pandemic, we are not going back to ‘normal,’ but to a ‘new normal’ where every facility in Queens is first-class, where everybody has the same access to the same things, where quality is something that is not foreign to us.”

In addition, QCH will be opening a new 8,000-square-foot annex down the block, further increasing its ability to serve the more than 500 children, teens, adults and older adults who use the center on a daily basis. Queens Community House, founded in 1975, is a multi-service settlement house serving more than 20,000 children, youths, adults and seniors each year.

Rendering of new QCH site. (Photo courtesy of Queens Community House)

Their mission is to provide individuals and families with the tools to enrich their lives and build healthy, inclusive communities.

“I always feel confident that with any type of funding that we give them, [QCH] uses it for the best purposes possible for the community,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “As an elected official, that to me is very comforting and it’s great to know that we have QCH here, not only in Forest Hills, but in many neighborhoods across the borough of Queens.”

The facility will be modernized with state-of-the-art technology; an elevator and other accessories to make the building fully accessible; new community spaces that create opportunities for great cross-cultural and cross-generational interaction; an expanded party area to accommodate the expansion of QCH’s food programs; reimagined activity rooms for classes and meetings; and an outdoor greens space to the neighborhood.

“For decades, QCH has served the people of Queens with hundreds of unique programs for all ages and communities,” Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal wrote on Twitter following the event.

Through a broad network of programs operating out of 25 sites in 11 neighborhoods, QCH offers Queens residents a needed support system at every stage of life, helping them to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to change their lives for the better and become active participants in their larger community.