Tag Archives: non-profits

Storefront counseling center to open in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The New Horizon Counseling Center is getting ready to open up its newest location on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The center, located at 156-28 Cross Bay Blvd., is set to have its grand opening on Oct. 1, according to Herrick Lipton, the administrative and financial director for the center. A staple in southern Queens for over 20 years, the Howard Beach center will be its third location in the area, with the other two in Far Rockaway and Ozone Park.

“Empowering individuals and strengthening the community is our motto,” Lipton said. “We cover all different types of needs the community might have.”

New Horizon is a nonprofit behavioral health organization, servicing people of all ages and covering every type of behavioral health need. It also hosts programs around the community, including neighborhood events and after-school programs.

Unlike many counseling centers, New Horizon uses a storefront approach because it likes to immerse itself in the neighborhood and be a part of it, Lipton said.

New Horizon will have staff available for walk-ins and have psychiatrists and social workers on site. It will also provide individual, group and psychotherapy counseling.

“Reception has been very good,” Lipton said. “We are here to aid the communities that we are in. ”

To learn more about New Horizon Counseling Center, visit www.nhcc.us.

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Citywide initiative to help cultural nonprofits, art funding


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY ALEXA ALTMAN

The infamous moniker of “one percent” gained an innovative, positive meaning among the arts community.

At MoMA PS1 on Tuesday, January 8, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced his support for the One Percent for Culture campaign, a citywide initiative aimed at increasing funding towards art institutions and impressing upon the city the value of cultural nonprofits. The coalition, containing 245 members thus far, seeks to ensure that nonprofit cultural establishments, responsible for assisting the city to generate billions in annual revenue, are granted one percent of the city’s annual budget.

Currently, arts and culture organizations receive a quarter of one percent of the city’s yearly budget.

“We know that that number and the billions in revenue that get spun off because of that could not happen without culture and the arts,” said Van Bramer. “The economy of the city of New York could not stand without culture and the arts. It simply could not.”

Arts and culture bring in $7.6 billion for the city of New York every year and provide jobs for roughly 100,000 New Yorkers. According to Van Bramer, the tourism boom, recently announced by Mayor Bloomberg, is in thanks to art institutions that entice visitors from all over the world, adding that culture and the arts is one of the few areas of the city budget that generates revenue.

Cultural leaders from across the city joined Van Bramer to announce the initiative and speak on its behalf, including Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and Eric Pryor, executive director of the Center for Arts Education. Charles Rice-Gonzalez, executive director of Bronx Academy for Arts & Dance (BAAD!) said increased funding for arts organizations creates a symbiotic relationship between culture and community, which serve to nourish and inspire each other.

“One Percent for Culture is about giving this vital segment, the arts of our city, a chance to come up to speed with the rest of the industry,” said Rice-Gonzalez. “We have managed to make a great impact with modest amounts. Imagine what could be done if one percent of the city’s budget is given to culture?”

Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of Long Island City playhouse The Chocolate Factory, said that with extra funding, she could afford to increase wages for the 100 artists on her payroll, purchase better equipment and decrease ticket prices.

“If we don’t value [art], we might lose it,” said Lewandowski. “One Percent for Culture is very valuable to my organization, a small very experimental organization, because it says we’re valuable. It’s the city saying ‘we see what you give back to the economy, to the quality of life, to everything.”

While Van Bramer called the announcement “a very exciting time,” the councilmember added that it was imperative to secure “the expense funding to follow the capital funding.”

“We have to be aggressive as a community. We have to know our value to the city of New York and make sure others know it too. Not everyone knows that we are keeping the city running. No one should ever doubt the power of art and the power of artists.”

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Help the non-profits


| letters@queenscourier.com

State money has dried up to support non-profits that educate and enlighten residents all over New York. This is the third year that state money (which is taxpayer money) has been unavailable to enable many valuable organizations to function effectively.

In northeast Queens, organizations like the Alley Pond Environmental Center, the Poppenhusen Institute, the Bayside Historical Society, the Queens Historical Society, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Queens Farm Museum, among other non-profits, fight to survive so that they may continue to serve and educate the community at large.

An idea has been floated by community leader and activist James Trent that would bring financial assistance to these and other groups.

Money generated by the Racino in southern Queens is taxed at a high rate. This money is supposed to be used in part for educational purposes, as is the money brought in by the state lotto. Since non-profits educate the public through school visits and other programs, shouldn’t they be entitled to a portion of the money brought in through gambling venues?

The future of many of these organizations is at stake and some may close if they are unable to receive financial support.

Henry Euler

Bayside

 

Councilmember Leroy Comrie is standing up for non-profits


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By Councilmember Leroy Comrie

As many in Queens will tell you, there are many non-profit organizations throughout the borough that have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Non-profit organizations have traditionally been exempt from paying property taxes on buildings they own and provide services in, like churches and non-profit affordable housing developers. However, the city has recently decided to require these organizations to verify their non-profit status or risk losing their property tax exemption. In some cases, these organizations would cease to exist without the property tax exemption. 

 Within the past month, the city has sent two notification letters with forms that the organizations are required to fill out to keep their exemption status. Out of the thousands of letters that were sent out, there are still 3,928 organizations that the city is waiting to hear from, and 738 of them are located Queens.

 For small organizations that do not have dedicated administrative staff, like many churches, this can be burdensome as they prepare to help people during this holiday season, especially considering the short notice they received – all verification forms are due December 5.

 One of them is Oneness Pentecostal Tabernacle on Linden Boulevard. They have a small staff but have been a staple in the community for many years. They recently fed people who were looking for a meal on Thanksgiving, and every Saturday they assess the needs of the neighborhood and give away food to the homeless. Unfortunately, they do not currently have a staff person dedicated to handling their finances, taking away time from the Pastors from running these programs. 

 While verification of these facilities may be necessary, it comes at a precarious time. It is during these hard economic times that members of our community seek out these services most. Yet, the city has suddenly required these organizations to verify their property tax exemption status and the eligibility of their facilities, and have only provided a small window of time to do so. Whether this was done intentionally or not to capture future revenues is uncertain. What is certain is that organizations will be required to exert what little time,  energy and resources they have in turning around these forms, instead of concentrating on providing critically needed services.

 The struggling economy has forced those of us in government to make tough decisions and many of these organizations have seen their funding dramatically slashed, at the same time, families in Queens have also had to tighten their belts, and many are desperately looking for any help they can get. With so many people unable to afford their mortgages, rent, health insurance, and other necessities, this is not the time to impose onerous information requests from organizations that help people in need.

 Accountability, transparency and accurate reporting are essential to ensure compliance, but there has to be a better methodology employed that allows organizations, particularly ones with very little staff to respond to these requests in an efficient and timely manner. Some 738 organizations in Queens have yet to respond to the city’s notice. While I work with my fellow City Council colleagues to reach out to these groups, I will not only advocate for more time to complete these forms, but ask why, while we are still struggling to get the economy moving again, we are suddenly burdening institutions that have been serving people for years by threatening to take their resources away?

 For organizations that need help obtaining the forms, or any other questions, please contact my office by calling (718) 776-3700.

 May everyone have a happy and safe holiday,

 Councilmember Leroy Comrie