Autism nonprofit gets $200K boost

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Queens elected officials at the state level have allocated more than $200,000 to an Astoria-based nonprofit that provides services to autistic city residents as the group prepares to celebrate its 30 years of work in the borough.

Queens Services for Autistic Citizens, which has offices in Manhattan and on 38th Street in Astoria, is a citywide nonprofit that was created in 1978 at Queens College in Flushing before moving to that neighborhood's PS 219 on Gravett Road. The group was founded by parents of autistic children, who they believed were not getting adequate services.

In late July, members of the Queens delegation in the state Assembly and Senate awarded $210,000 to QSAC to expand its citywide programs.

"Year after year, the members and leadership at QSAC continue to live up to their mission with passion and boundless energy," state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said.

Other Queens elected officials who gave the group discretionary funding include state Sens. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and George Onorato (D-Long Island City), as well as state Assembly members Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) and Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach).

"It was a very welcome donation and it's going to help our programs across the board," QSAC spokeswoman Daniele Favre-Panayotatos said.

QSAC operates after-school programs for autistic borough residents in Astoria, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows and Hollis, the group's deputy director, Lisa Veglia, said.

The nonprofit also operates a day school on 150th Street in Whitestone for students ranging in age from 5 to 21 years, runs a pre-school and early childhood center on 60th Avenue in Douglaston and has a habilitation center on Woodhull Avenue in Hollis, she said.

State funding will go toward upgrading several of the group's Queens facilities, Executive Director Gary Maffei said.

The group serves an estimated 130 Queens residents and operates several programs in Manhattan, the Bronx and Long Island.

On Oct. 23, QSAC will host its 30th anniversary celebration at Manhattan's Tavern on the Green, Favre-Panayotatos said.

"The founders of QSAC were true visionaries," she said. "We now have more than 900 participants, so this will be a very proud celebration."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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