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Queens Chronicle

Residents thrilled to open community ctr.

Broad Channel spot will cater to people from throughout Queens

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Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012 12:00 pm

Broad Channel residents rejoiced at the ribbon cutting of the newly refurbished community center at St. Virgilius Roman Catholic Church last Thursday.

“When you do the research, you see that there are no community centers or programs in this area,” said Ann Marie DeMauro, a Lindenwood resident and the coordinator of Legacy Project 89. The project is responsible for the transformation at the community center, located at 210 Noel Road.

Legacy projects are offered by a company called Personal Dynamics. The company offers comprehensive workshops and psychological exercises to determine what holds people back in their lives and how they can better reach their potential. The courses come in three stages: discovery, breakthrough and leadership.

“The discovery workshop is where people notice a lot of things that hold them back,” said Lance Vanderborg, the president of Personal Dynamics. “The breakthrough course supports you in breaking through those barriers, and the leadership program is where you practice it for three months.”

The leadership program is the step that involves legacy projects. The first legacy project, named LP1, was responsible for creating the New York Cares Coat Drive that runs annually during November and December.

“We’re told to go out and find a legacy project, but we’re not told where,” DeMauro said. “It has to be within the city limits and you can’t take any money out of your own pocket.” After contacting her uncle, the Rev. James Dunne, and speaking with Pastor Richard Ahlemeyer, DeMauro was sure that the building behind St. Viriglius would be the best space to set up the center.

“Legacy projects usually get 10 days to complete everything,” DeMauro said. “We had to write a prospectus, fundraise, get it approved by Lance [Vanderborg] and then complete the work in the seven days remaining.”

Physical work on the building began Dec. 26. The fundraising involved gathering painting supplies, furniture, food for the new pantry, supplies for the catechism school and time and labor. Some people donated money or supplies, while others came to the church to literally lend a hand.

Miguel Perez, a carpenter and contractor, postponed a skiing trip he was going on to assist with the project.

“A friend of mine called me and told me about this project, and I decided to help out,” Perez said. “I worked on installing sheetrock compound, fixing the walls, hiding wires, repairing cracks in the ceiling and installing the television.”

Another volunteer, Carmela Cali, loved helping out a good cause.

“The people here worked so selflessly,” Cali said. “I love being around this kind of energy. It’s contagious. It passes from person to person, like a chain reaction. It gives people hope.”

About 50 people from the surrounding neighborhoods attended last week’s ribbon cutting. The center showed off its new floors and ceiling, painted walls, beach-inspired murals, flat-screen television and electric piano.

Patricia Mills, a Broad Channel resident, thought that the crew deserved a lot of credit.

“I know the difference,” she said. “I went to school here, my nieces and nephews went here, and my children went here.”

John Strangid, a Howard Beach resident, was ecstatic to see a change in the building.

“I’ve seen the before and I’ve seen the after, and the after is definitely incredible,” he said.

The center was built to serve the communities of Broad Channel, Rockaway, Howard Beach and Lindenwood, but the members of LP89 hope it extends past those areas and draws people from all over Queens and the rest of the city. Plans for the future might include use by the Broad Channel Athletic Club, drivers’ education courses, community arts and music and the parish senior center.

Welcome to the discussion.