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Neighbor to Neighbor: Laurelton food pantry must give up its space

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I walked around southeast Queens on a recent sunny, breezy day, and started to hum, “Buttercups and daisies, oh, what pretty flowers, blooming in the springtime....” They are pretty, indeed. I didn’t finish the song because what would have followed was the part about showers, which our reservoirs need very badly. That worried me. By the time I walked to the Springfield Gardens Post Office, my spirits were lifted again because all the beautiful yellow daffodils that the Parks Department had donated to Mildred Collins, a long-time community activist, were in full bloom. They were planted with the approval of the Garden Club of Laurelton. There seemed to be trumpets of gold everywhere, glowing like the sun, to remind us that although we still mourn those lost, we must allow hope for the future to bloom anew.

I stopped to talk to some of the police officers on duty on Merrick Boulevard and after thanking them for their good work, I asked if they had noticed that every daffodil trumpet was facing the same way. Just like the phrase we heard so often after 9/11, they seemed to be saying, “United we stand!” They were not alone either, because Rosedale also had its share. Laurelton Park on Brookville Boulevard displayed hundreds, planted under the direction of Cornucopia Society President Fred Kress, by the Boy Scouts from Troop 556, and under his direction as well, by Cornucopia Society Food Pantry volunteers, at several locations on Sunrise Highway and Francis Lewis Boulevard. Further west on Sunrise Highway, O’Reilly’s Funeral Home had a similar display, as did many locations in other communities.

We thank all who participated because the daffodils will, I hope, spread and become an everlasting memorial. Even while we were trying to look on the bright side, we had another blow. A letter to Kress from the generous folks at the Rosedale Sports Association who have let the Cornucopia Society have free space for its food pantry, said Cornucopia would have to vacate the premises as soon as possible. It seems that engineers and contractors who inspected the building found it to be structurally “compromised.”

At first, I wondered where the Sports Association could go to accommodate all the activities that are conducted with youngsters in that building. Secondly, I was concerned about the hundreds of people the Cornucopia Society provides with much-needed supplemental food on a regular basis, especially since 9/11, when many people have fallen on especially hard times.

After the food give-away on April 6, I received calls from several people who had been told we need space, but there seems to be nothing in immediate sight. One concerned client asked me, “Will the Sports Association have the building repaired and then let the pantry back?” I had to say, “We don’t know.” Another caller suggested space in Community Board 12.

Still another called, an “old-timer” who said he had been distressed over the closing some years ago of the Rosedale Volunteer Ambulance Corps and abandonment of their building that he felt was built to serve the community, and could still. Who knows? I surely don’t. I am just a volunteer. I help unload the truck, help pack and distribute the food or whatever else needs to be done, including cleaning up. I see the folks from the Rosedale Sports Association sometimes, but their plans and the future of their building and that of the Ambulance Corps remain to me an unknown.

The Cornucopia Society Board is seeking as rapid assistance as possible in finding a new location, preferably free or otherwise minimally priced. Ownership would be desirable, of course, since there will be considerable moving involved, but, lacking that, storage space that could be well secured and local would help for the sake of expediency. Anyone who recognizes the need for this program as much as we do is asked to call or write to anyone you think might give, or suggest the help that is needed. If help is not forthcoming, the Cornucopia Society’s good works soon may have to exclude helping to feed those in need. All the volunteers will be sad about that, but even worse, an awful lot of people may have to go hungry.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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