Fort Totten walk raises funds for women’s center

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Several dozen men and women laced up their sneakers Saturday morning for a trek through the grounds of Fort Totten.

The dedicated pedestrians made the 3/4-mile Michael’s Mile loop at the demilitarized Bayside base in an effort to raise funds for a local women’s group.

The second-annual event was hosted by the Center for Women of New York, a Queens group that provides classes, meetings and conferences for women.

The group is raising funds for its programs and to renovate a historic building at the fort which it will move its operations into after completing restoration work.

“We deal in very serious subjects such as domestic violence, sex trafficking and pay equity, but we also care about women’s health and we think walk-a-thons are fun,” said Ann Jawin, the group’s founder and chairwoman of the board. “So we think this is a great way to raise funds, be healthy and have fun.”

Between 50 and 75 participants attended the walk and raised money for the group through pledges and T-shirt sales.

Bayside resident Stephanie Stern was one of those participants.

“It’s just a good cause,” she said. “We met Ann Jawin and she told us about the walk and it seemed like a good cause, so we just wanted to get involved.”

The Center for Women was housed for five years at a building at 401 Murray Ave. provided by the city under the condition the group fix it up before moving in, which it did, Jawin said. The building was then reclaimed for use by the FDNY, and the city gave the group another building at 207 Fort Totten Ave., which it is currently working to renovate.

It needs to raise funds for the work, and currently operates out of office and classroom space provided by Borough President Helen Marshall at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

Jawin has already raised about $1.7 million. She received $900,000 from state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) when he was on the City Council for the renovations as well as close to $600,000 from Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and about $200,000 from Borough President Helen Marshall. She will not be able to access these funds until she receives approval from the state.

Helen Keit, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty, joined with several of her co-workers in donning red T-shirts and walking Saturday in hopes of fixing the new location on Fort Totten Avenue as soon as possible.

“We want to help groups that help women and this is a really good cause. They have a varied group of programs that are good for women,” Keit said. “We just really get involved in groups that are good for the community and they’re developing this building into a center for women that provides different resources for them like training and mentoring.”

For more information about the Center for Women, visit

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 6:31 pm, October 10, 2011
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