Friendship Center Needs a Friend

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In tough times, city agencies have to make difficult decisions. When budgets are slashed they have to make the best possible use of the money left. Nonetheless, we think the decision by the city Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to eliminate funding for the Friendship Center in Jamaica cannot be justified.

For decades, the center has been serving adults over age 60 who suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, schizophrenia and other mental and physical disabilities.

Beverly Collier, executive director of the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults, which operates the Friendship Center, said the city’s decision is “devastating to our center, our staff and the community.”

Just last year the city and borough set aside $2 million to build a new home for the Friendship Center. Apparently the legislators were under the impression that the center was doing a great deal of good.

We are also puzzled by the short notice given to the center about the closing. After being in operation for 30 years, it was told two weeks ago that funding would be cut June 30. That leaves the center with nearly no time at all to find alternative funding.

Those who work at the center make life worth living for the people who rely on its services.

Come to Laurelton, Romney

Shawn Forde will spend the next 15 years in prison for the shooting death of Juan Torres, the owner of a Laurelton bodega. He will get out when he is 45. The family of Torres will live with the pain for the rest of their lives.

In the wake of the killing, police in southeast Queens have encouraged store owners to take steps that will reduce that chances they’ll be robbed. This includes the installation of additional security cameras and removing signs and clutter from windows.

Forde deserves every day he will spend behind bars, but punishing him is not likely to prevent the next robbery. The best way to do this is to make it increasingly difficult for people like Forde to get their hands on a gun.

Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, criticized gun control last week in a speech to the NRA.

We invite him to come to Laurelton and speak to the family of Juan Torres.

Posted 12:00 am, April 20, 2012
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