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Queens Chronicle

Woodhaven seniors find home, for now

Center displaced by April building collapse gets a temporary location

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:52 am, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

To say the Catholic Charities Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center has had an awful string of luck in finding a permanent home may be an understatement. Since having to leave St. Thomas the Apostle a few years ago, the center has moved no less than five times: first to a location in Richmond Hill, then to the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps building on Jamaica Avenue, then to a temporary location after a building collapse damaged the ambulance corps headquarters in April, then back to that building a few months later.

Now, with the damage from the building collapse still creating issues at the ambulance corps, the center has been forced out again and has found a new, temporary, home at Woodhaven’s American Legion Post 118.

The American Legion building, located at 89-02 91 St., is not as big as the ambulance corps building, but it will allow seniors to keep meeting for events.

“We’re happy to be here,” said Judy Kleeve, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens vice president of older adult services, at last Friday’s opening celebration at the American Legion hall. “Hopefully we’ll be back in our own home very soon.”

The center immediately vacated the ambulance corps building after the collapse of an abandoned structure next door on April 12. For several months, Woodhaven seniors were bused to the Catholic Charities Ozone Park Senior Center at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church in Ozone Park, but the center soon reoccupied the ambulance corps building once it was deemed safe.

The building that fell has not yet been demolished. Its landlord, who has been slapped with dozens of violations, has been nonresponsive.

But Kleeve said that while the ambulance corps building is sound, there are still issues with it and they had to move out again.

“We wanted to stay in the neighborhood, and we were lucky to find this place,” she said.

The American Legion hall is a smaller space to operate in, but it has a handicapped access ramp and sits in the middle of a heavily residential part of the neighborhood, near many of the seniors’ homes.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he and other area officials have met with the ambulance corps and representatives from the city to come up with a game plan on fixing the ambulance corps building and bringing the center back to its permanent home. He said work on fixing the damaged building could start this month.

“I’m hopeful work on demolishing the collapsed building and fixing the ambulance corps will start in October,” he said last Friday.

Kleeve said she hopes the center will be back on Jamaica Avenue by next spring.

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