Members of the Queens Womens Center celebrated in the face of adversity last week despite being forced out of their Fort Totten home by the city and having to raise nearly $300,000 to renovate another building on the Bayside fort.
The centers founder, Ann Jawin, a Douglaston resident, presided over the groups 15th anniversary party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in East Elmhurst, during which she announced a new name and mission for the center. In the fall, Jawin said, the Queens Womens Center officially will become the Center for Women of New York.
Its not bad when things happen that you dont want, she told the 150 or so people who turned out for the fund-raising dinner. Maybe thats the opportunity you need to get out of where you were and into a better place. Maybe it was meant to be.
Jawin, who founded the Queens Womens Center in 1987, made the groups future seem rosy as she spoke to the crowd and recognized the organizations honorees, including the women of Ground Zero and community activists. The Queens Womens Center, which also has some space at Borough Hall, has been fighting the city over its eviction from Totten since November.
In a deal worked out in State Supreme Court last month before Judge Duane Hart, the Queens Womens Center was required to vacate Building #401 by Saturday in exchange for another space at the Fort Building #207. The city has told the group it must raise the $475,000 needed to renovate the dilapidated Building #207 before the group can resume operations at Fort Totten.
State Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), a longtime supporter of the Queens Womens Center, has pledged $200,000 to the fund-raising endeavor.
Carrozza was one of several politicians who attended the dinner, and called the resolution of the centers recent troubles a new beginning.
We know that Ann Jawin does a lions job leading the Queens Womens Center, Carrozza said. The Queens Womens Center is promise for all women.
Borough President Helen Marshall made an appearance at the dinner, as did U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) and former City Councilwoman Julia Harrison (D-Flushing). Several current City Council members also attended, including Tony Avella (D-Bayside), David Weprin (D-Hollis), John Liu (D-Flushing) and Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights).
Marshall pledged to assist the Queens Womens Center by finding more room for the group at Borough Hall.
I will do all that I can to help Ann with this, Marshall said. When they told her to leave the building, I told her come, well find some space at Borough Hall.
The U.S. Army decommissioned the Civil War-era Fort Totten in 1995, and the property was due to become city parkland. Once under city control, the fort was to be split between the Fire and Parks departments.
The city was to take over Fort Totten from the federal government earlier this year, a move city authorities contend was delayed by the Queens Womens Centers refusal to vacate its Fire Department-controlled building. The Fire Department said all buildings had to be empty for the transfer to occur.
Jawin maintained a positive attitude about the centers upcoming struggle.
All we can do is stand together and say go for it, she said. Its only money.
The group, which serves between 100 and 150 women a week and provides a range of services to women and families, including job training, domestic violence programs and counseling, was inspired by its new building to expand its mission, Jawin said.
According to the program handed out during the anniversary dinner, the new Center for Women of New York will be designed as a research and conference center and serve as a living museum chronicling womens struggle to achieve full equality in our society.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2002 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.