Oct. 30, 2023 By Bill Parry
The Forest Hills-based Queens Community House, one of the borough’s largest social service organizations, held 17 “Lights On Afterschool” events on Oct. 26, as part of a national celebration of after-school programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams took part in an event at P.S. 160Q in Jamaica, where all four of her children graduated.
“The annual “Lights on Afterschool” celebration reminds us just how important high-quality after-school programs are to the success of our young people. These vital programs provide a fun and nurturing learning environment for students to grow their interest in STEM and the arts,” Adams said. “They can engage in cultural programming, build their leadership skills, and discover new talents. In addition to strengthening their academic skills, after-school programs help our children foster social and emotional skills too. Our students are able to build strong bonds with their peers, and they are empowered with the tools to achieve their personal goals.”
Queens Community House executive director Ben Thomases presented Adams with an award in recognition of her leadership and efforts to support afterschool programs at P.S. 106Q, including allocation of $460,000 to sustain it.
“Speaker Adams went above and beyond to secure funding for our after-school program in Jamaica and we are grateful,” Thomases said. “The Jamaica community has been vocal, united, and clear about the importance of this after-school program for the neighborhood. After decades of disinvestment in the Jamaica neighborhood, it matters so much to have powerful leaders like Speaker Adams committed to delivering what we need for this community.”
Queens Community House (QCH) currently supports 2,414 after-school children in literacy enrichment programs.
“After-school programs also provide much-needed relief and support for our working families. It is a lifeline for working parents who rely on these programs to keep their children safe and engaged until they can be picked up,” Adams said. “The flexibility these programs afford working parents allows them to advance in their careers and better support their children in return.”
The “Lights on Afterschool” celebrations took place a week after nearly 250 Queens Community House supporters attended QCH’s annual Elevating Queens Communities gala at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria that raised more than half a million to fund programming and services.
QCH currently assists more than 600 families in need with emergency housing assistance, and serves nearly 57,000 meals in the past year to homebound older adults across the borough. The nonprofit organization also helped nearly 2,000 young adults obtain summer jobs at 164 workplaces.
Mayor Eric Adams made an appearance and Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim and Asahi Pompey of Goldman Sachs were honored for the impact they’ve made on the borough.
“Tonight was a celebration of the change-makers who have done so much in support of Queens through the years, the borough’s past, present and future,” Thomases said. “From elevating Queens businesses to helping us renovate our Forest Hills Community Center, our honorees have been so instrumental in improving the lives of Queens residents.”