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Rep. Velázquez delivers $450,000 check to Sunnyside Community Services for renovations

The center’s staff and visitors celebrated the new funding that will improve the space they utilize daily. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

June 21, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez visited Sunnyside Community Services on Thursday morning to deliver a check for $450,000 in federal funds for a requested renovation project.

The allocation of funding is one of 14 local projects that the Congresswoman, who represents parts of southwestern Queens and much of north Brooklyn. Overall, she secured $11 million for her district this fiscal year. 

Almost half a million dollars in federal funding will go towards capital improvements to the second floor of the multi-use center on 39th Street in Sunnyside. The first floor features a large open space utilized daily by older adults and special events such as the monthly Community Board 2 public meetings. The second floor is made up of offices for staff members and classrooms for small groups, such as ESL students and healthcare workers in training, to gather. 

“I am very proud to be here,” said Congresswoman Velázquez to a room full of older adults who rely on the space for meals and programs. “I’m proud of this center because it not only provides services to the elderly but also to those who will be in charge of continuing to build the United States of America.”

The staff hopes that the hundreds of people who walk through the doors each year will have a better environment and more efficient building once the project is complete. In recent years they made minor aesthetic renovations to the second floor, but nothing significantly noticeable like what is to come when the project is completed. 

The second floor of the center is utilized for small class instruction and staff offices. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

The main change to come to the second floor is upgrades to several bathrooms that have not been upgraded in decades. They will become ADA compliant, which is crucial as the center serves hundreds of older adults, some of whom have disabilities.  The HVAC system in one section of the floor will also be modernized to be more efficient. 

The six classrooms on the second floor, which accommodate ESL students, after-school youth and home health workers renewing their certifications, will undergo minor renovations to improve their acoustics.

“The program is very important for us,” said one of the ESL students who arrived recently from Medellin, Colombia. In going back and forth between Spanish and English, he shared the impact that the program has had on his life since immigrating. 

The Congresswoman, who herself was born in Puerto Rico and became the first in her family to graduate from college, said she emphasized with the English language learners adjusting to their new environment. 

Congresswoman Nadia M. Velázquez delivered federal funding to Sunnyside Community Services on June 20. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

“To the students, I know it’s hard to come here from abroad without knowing the language and the culture, but rest assured that at this center, you will always have the support to learn the English language and emotional support. You’re not here alone,” said Rep. Velázquez in both Spanish and English. 

The congresswoman and staff noted that the funds will take some time to reach the community center. The process with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now underway, but construction is expected to start sometime next year. 

Judy Zangwill, the Executive Director of Sunnyside Community Services, called the congresswoman last year to request funding for building improvements. She praised Velázquez for listening to their needs and delivering the funds. 

“We can always count on her when times are tough,” said Zangwill, noting her active presence in the Sunnyside community. “She’s always available when the challenge comes up.”

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