Forestdale opens new family enrichment center in St. Albans

Southeast Queens residents celebrate the opening of Community Connection, a new family enrichment center in St. Albans.
Photo by Lucia Coffey

Southeast Queens residents and elected leaders joined representatives from the city’s Administration for Children’s Services on June 17 to kick off the Juneteenth holiday weekend at the grand opening of Forestdale, Inc.’s Community Connection, the new ACS Family Enrichment Center (FEC) initiative in St. Albans.

Community Connections is co-designed by Forestdale and members of southeast Queens neighborhoods to address the needs and aspirations of children, families and communities.

“Forestdale has been a partner with this community long before the opening of this new Family Enrichment Center,” Councilwoman Nantasha Williams said. “I know this new institution will only expand their presence here. I look forward to seeing how this important investment into safe spaces for the neighborhood by our Mayor can positively impact the lives of my district. Forestdale will be a true refuge for its new neighbors in the St. Albans area; we welcome them.”

Elected officials join Forestdale executive director Dr. Bill Weisberg (r.) at the opening of the new Community Connection family center in St. Albans.Photo by Lucia Coffey

Established as a social service organization in 1854, Forestdale serves low-income and immigrant communities of Queens and Brooklyn and works to ensure that children and families have the fundamental assets needed to thrive and live independently. The organization’s goal is to end the intergenerational transmission of poverty and trauma.

“Coordinated outreach is the centerpiece of meaningful family engagement in our community,” state Senator Leroy Comrie said. 

“Many of our local families have experienced trauma, particularly over the past few years, and the FEC will provide them a place to get parenting, health, career, and educational support. I look forward to working with Jackie Denson, and her team at the FEC to provide resources to families across Southeast Queens.”
Comrie thanked his colleagues in government, community stakeholders, and  ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser for their collaborative effort on the project.

“Forestdale is grateful to the NYC Administration for Children’s Services for its commitment to not only recognize how much harm has been done by inequity in our city, but to take bold steps to redress it,” said Dr. Bill Weisberg, executive director of Forestdale. “Investing in vibrant neighborhoods of southeast Queens [and] providing resources to augment the strengths of an NYC area that for too long was under-resourced and under-appreciated, is an important move in the right direction.”

The new Community Connection ACS Family Enrichment Center is located at 203-12 Linden Blvd. in St. Albans and offers a place for community members to gather, build new relationships, learn skills, participate in activities and access resources to help them thrive.

“I have lived here my entire life, so I’m not surprised by the excitement the center has generated,” Center Director Jackie Denson said. “This community has been hungry for more opportunities to pitch in together, neighbor helping neighbor, so every single child has what they need to obtain the success they deserve.”

Community Connection serves Queens Community Districts 12 and 13.

“It’s an excellent idea for this place to be here, ” said community member Fredricka Muir. “It is a multi-purpose resource. We need this here, and we need the people to come together behind it.”