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Informed Voices Debuts Outreach Ctr.

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One of Canarsie’s established community organizations has expanded to the opposite side of Brooklyn. Earlier this month, the Association of Informed Voices (AIV) held a grand opening for the Informed Voices Community Information and Outreach Center, at 7201 15th Avenue, in the basement of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The office, said Wanda Ihrig, executive vice president of AIV, will function as, “An information and referral agency. We are doing anything and everything from problems with cell phones, how to pick a new phone and a plan, all the way to ‘I don’t have heat and I don’t know where to go.’” The center is also intended to be a general resource, said Ihrig. “We have all kinds of materials there,” she explained, “including voter registration. We have safety and preparedness information. We are working with the city’s Office of Emergency Management on their Ready New York Campaign. At this point,” she added, “most of the literature is in English, but we do have literature in Chinese, Spanish and Korean as well.” Among other things, the center has “partnered with the Bensonhurst Catholic Cluster,” which includes the parishes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Regina Pacis, Mary Mother of Jesus, St. Finbar, St. Athanasius, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Dominic and St. Simon and Jude, said Ihrig. “We are their referral agency,” she added, stressing, “We look forward to being able to serve all the people in those eight parishes and the community at large.” Despite the group’s partnership with the parish cluster, Ihrig noted, “We are not a Catholic endeavor. We are a community endeavor.” The center, stressed Ihrig, is open to the entire community. “If people need counseling, we can get them counseling,” she explained. “If there are immigration problems, we can help them with that as well.” While walk-in hours are still to be determined, Ihrig said that people with need of the center’s services could call the office at 718-232-6268, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. “We have a bank of about 15 volunteers answering the phones,” she noted. “We encourage everybody to stop by or call in. If there’s any way we can help or refer them to where they can get help, we will be happy to do so.” In all, said Ihrig, the center already has about 50 volunteers, “Working on various aspects of the program, including a community newsletter.” Initial funding for the endeavor came in the form of a small grant – “both community development and senior programming,” explained Ihrig — allocated by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “He got us the money we needed to start, and we’ll be growing,” Ihrig promised. The Association of Informed Voices is about six years old. It started in Canarsie, and has programs at St. Jude’s, 1677 Canarsie Road, as well as a small outreach office at Holy Family, 9719 Flatlands Avenue.

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