The Greater Ridgewood Youth Council has had a good year so far, and to celebrate that, elected officials and members of the community were invited to take in student performances last Thursday at the group’s headquarters at 59-03 Summerfield St.
“I love the City Council members that comprise the Queens County delegation,” said GRYC President Bob Monahan. “They prioritized the capital budget we put in for to purchase this building and now we have $1.66 million to buy this building.”
Monahan said the money allotted will save the GRYC more than $180,000 a year in rent. The extra funds will go directly back to the scores of programs and opportunities the group provides children from preschool to high school.
“We are all basically friends here and now with this happy news, I want to show you what we got,” Monahan said.
A video highlighting programs such as sign language, step team, cheerleading, science, beauty shop, bowling, martial arts, homework help and internships was played.
In attendance were City Council members Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn, Queens); Assembly members Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside) and Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven); and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D- Howard Beach).
“I’ve been the chair of the Public Safety Committee for the last 12 years and I’ve worked to help bring down crime 35 percent in that time but it’s not just about working with the police force, it’s about programs like this that keep kids out of harms way and teach them not to go out and cause trouble,” Vallone said.
The event opened with preschoolers signing the Pledge of Allegiance, which was met with an eruption from the crowd. The children from the GRYC summer camp at PS 128 also used sign language to perform the song “I’ll Be There” by Bruno Mars.
The show-stealer was probably the three step performances. Step, a dance that relies on stomping, clapping and slapping for rhythms, is one of the more popular programs offered by the GRYC.
The Service League, which works to improve the Ridgewood community, also announced that the teens in the program are developing a daycare facility for the young parents who are participating in the GRYC internship program. Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri is assisting with designs along with other architects and the group has opened registries at Babies “R” Us.
“At least five or six of the young people in our internship program are parents and these kids are working to create a space for them,” Monahan said. “It is a small way for them to change their environment for the better.
“It is always a joy to start your day to see how our tax dollars are really being spent on programs that cater to children with integrity and purpose like the programs we saw today,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav. “We work hand in hand with these groups every day to make sure the funding is there and we make our money stretch.”