The Glendale community last Friday afternoon cut the ceremonial ribbon on a new outreach program on Myrtle Avenue.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and City Councilman Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn) joined Jordan Durso, executive director of the Legacy Center, and many others to celebrate the grand opening of the center’s temporary location. The permanent building will open in November.
The Legacy Center is an outreach program for adults and children who do not have the means to help themselves. Families can come to the center for various services and get the assistance they need.
Durso said he came to New York with one mission in mind: to help as many families as possible.
“It’s to take the kids when they’re young and show them there’s a better way — you don’t have to get stuck here,” he said. “We want to show them that just because you come from here doesn’t mean you’re stuck here.”
Durso has been providing services to communities in different parts of the world for the last 11 years, including Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
“I think it’s going to make a great impact on the community and on the kids especially,” said Maryvel Gonzalez, a volunteer and receptionist at the center. “We have been getting a lot of volunteers and teachers who want to help out.”
Gonzalez said that many residents have been stopping by to ask questions and check out the different programs the center has to offer, especially the GED course. The center also provides vocational training and mentoring for students as well as life skills, English as a Second Language, job coaching and resume building for parents.
“You’re going to hear what happens at home or you’re going to hear that mom can’t afford to buy milk and it’s really sad,” Durso said. “You want to help these people and one program leads into another program and it keeps on growing.”
Durso said there are 340 volunteers who are willing to donate their time for families who have trouble putting food on the table and furniture in the home. The team of volunteers have the opportunity to go out in the field, get to know the families and deliver food if need be.
“At the end of the day, serving people is one of the best things in the world,” said David Portalatin, a Legacy program manager.
Portalatin said the center donates backpacks to underprivileged kids at the beginning of the school year, and socks, gloves and shoes during the winter.
The Legacy Center is working with 150 families now, Durso said, and he is optimistic the number will gradually grow.
“We’re people who should always help people,” he said. “We did these turkey giveaways on Thanksgiving and there was a woman who had a few children, her husband was in jail and we brought her everything from the turkey to the dessert. We brought her a whole dinner, not just for her kids but so that she could invite people because she wasn’t able to do that before. And at the end of the meeting with her, she turns to us and says, ‘How can I help?’ And to me that was just amazing.”