Tag Archives: QCP

Queens Centers for Progress celebrates 65 years in the community

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy QCP

From their humble beginnings operating out of the basement of a wood-framed house in Queens 65 years ago to now servicing over 1,500 people at several different facilities, the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) has grown to become a leader in helping people with developmental disabilities.

QCP was founded in 1950 as United Cerebral Palsy of Queens (UCP) by a group of parents who needed services for their children with cerebral palsy. The agency operated out of the basement of a house in Queens before their first building was erected at 82-25 164th St. in Jamaica in 1958.

As the children grew, the facility expanded, doubling in size in 1966 to begin providing vocational services to those it helped.

The group then expanded again in 1974, building the Natalie Katz Rodgers Training and Treatment Center at 81-15 164th St. to provide day programming for people who were living in institutional settings.

In 1979, QCP began providing residential services with the opening of the Robert T. Groh Residence in Jamaica Estates, which houses eight seniors.

During the late 1980s, a Day Habilitation site for 150 people was constructed in Bellerose, Queens, creating five residences, providing a home for 10 adults each. QCP also added services for seniors, focusing on community-based recreation and health education for those reaching retirement age.

“One of the elements of developmental disabilities is that it really doesn’t get cured. I mean, it’s a condition which is going to be with someone for their entire life,” said Charles Houston, executive director of QCP. “As the child grows, they need specialized educational services and therapies, and as they get older, they need other kinds of services.”

In 2001, UCP officially changed its name to Queens Centers for Progress, reflecting their services to both cerebral palsy patients and those with various developmental disabilities.

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

QCP now services over 1,500 people of all ages, from all walks of life, providing a place to live and work, life skill training, education and therapy. The agency prides itself on individual-based programming for each of its clients.

“The overall approach that we take is developing plans for people very individually,” Houston said. “You really have to start with where each person is individually in terms of what their abilities and interests and goals are and then develop a range of services really tailored for that person to try to help them make progress and achieve their own goals in terms of being more independent. So that means very different things for different people.”

QCP helps its clients become involved with the community through a successful community-based employment program.

“Most of our job-related services are out in the community in a program model called Program Employment, where we have somebody go right out onto a job site after our staff arranges with an employer and they actually do the training…there rather than here,” Houston said. “It’s a much better way to develop lasting job placements.”

QCP also hosts several events throughout the year to help raise money for their services. On Saturday, April 25, QCP will host its 39th annual Footsteps for Progress Five Mile Walk. Approximately 250 participants will meet at QCP located at 81-15 164th St. and walk to Kissena Park, around the lake and back to QCP, where brunch will be served to the participants.

WPIX reporter Narmeen Chodhury—a Queens resident—will be the MC for the walk. New York State Senator Tony Avella will be the event’s Grand Marshal for the third consecutive year, and Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski will lead the walk.

Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 9 a.m.


Kids get visit from Santa, presents at Queens Centers for Progress

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Santa and Frosty the Snowman paid a visit to the children at the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), bringing holiday cheer with them once more.

Now in its 16th year, QCP has partnered with the Jamaica Rotary Club to give toys to kids at the children’s center. NYPD Community Affairs officers from the Queens south division joined in as well.

The children, who have cerebral palsy or another type of developmental disability, excitedly accepted stuffed animals, dolls and trucks from Rotary Club president Joe Iaboni, dressed as Santa, and his trusty sidekick Frosty.

“It’s a good feeling for the holidays,” Iaboni said. “We can fight crime, but also make kids happy and smile.”

Maureen Lovetro, a Rotary Club member with cerebral palsy, dressed up her dog companion, Drake, as Santa to give the kids a little extra Christmas cheer.

“Because I have a disability, I feel like I was one of those kids, and a lot of people helped me out.” she said, “I have a true appreciation and respect for them.”

Nancy Glass, QCP Children’s Center Director, said having the Jamaica Rotary back again for the toy distribution is “like having family coming back to visit and helping us celebrate.”

Iaboni, donned in a red suit and white beard, said it’s about “companionship” and letting the children know they and the police officers are there.

“We can show them there’s somebody to protect them,” he said.



Disabled cuts fight not over

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The State Legislature recently voted to restore funds through its budgets to disabled programs. But with negotiations still on the horizon, the battle isn’t over.

“With so many Queens families continuing to struggle during these tough economic times, we must do everything we can to ensure New York State has programs in place to help people in need,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic.

The assembly budget proposal would restore $120 million to not-for-profit organizations that work with developmentally disabled individuals, and an additional $20 million to maintain state-operated mental health services. The Senate proposal also would restore $120 million.

Hundreds of organizations citywide tailored toward developmentally disabled individuals could be subject to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget amendments that will result in a $240 million cut in funding, effective April 1, if an accord between the the executive and legislative branch is not reached.

Charlie Houston, executive director of the Queens Center for Progress (QCP), said that with a cut like the one being proposed, there is “no way” that the center’s services wouldn’t be affected.

“We would have to lay staff off,” he said. “There’s no way we could avoid that.”

A main issue concerning administrators of these organizations, elected officials and disabled individuals is losing members of the “family” they have created in their respective programs.

“I love being here,” said Alan Rosen, a participant in the day program at The Shield Institute. “I don’t want [my aide] to leave, I like her so much.”

Groups such as QCP and The Shield Institute work towards helping disabled individuals live a progressive lifestyle, becoming more active and independent. Each day, they have different activities such as painting and cooking, and also visit different sites throughout the community.

These daily programs and trips outside of the facilities are the ones that could potentially get the ax if administrators are forced to let go of staff. Many patients require constant supervision and care, and without staff, that consistency could become unavailable.

“It would be a movement back towards custodial kind of care, rather than community integration,” said Houston. “It’s a real step backwards.”

Houston also said they may have to close certain programs for weeks at a time.

“What it would come to, for safety reasons, is they’ll just plop them in front of a TV day in and day out,” said Margaret MacPherson, whose brother, Thomas Hatch, 65, goes to QCP. “[But] it’s so important for them to see that life goes on outside of those four walls.”

Hatch lives with eight other people, all of whom need around-the-clock supervision due to different medical issues. MacPherson fears that without an adequate amount of staff, they may lose some of this supervision.

“These people cannot speak for themselves,” she said. “I see that there is absolutely not a nickel of surplus money, and I’m just heart sick for them.”

She said that the QCP staff does a job that is not so pretty, but they remain the loveliest and finest people.

“I’ve been concerned [about the budget] before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this concerned,” she admitted.

There will be a three-way negotiation between the assembly, senate and governor, projected for some time next week, which will determine how much money will officially be restored.

“This isn’t a matter of agencies taking cuts,” said Houston. “It’s going to affect people – a lot of people.”




Tradition makes the holidays bright for kids

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

“I love seeing Santa!” said Natasha Ayala, a student at the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), as she pet her new stuffed dog. “I have my own dog at home, too.”

Last week, the Jamaica Rotary made its yearly donation of hundreds of toys to QCP as dozens of excited children eagerly opened their presents.

“The children really look forward to it every year,” said Maryann McAleer of QCP.

Roughly 250 toys were delivered this year to children with developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

Santa Claus and a snowman went class-to-class, delivering Barbie dolls and toy trucks to bright-eyed kids.

The Jamaica Rotary has been making this its holiday tradition for the past 12 years, and each year is just as exciting as the last.

“It’s a joyous day for them, they love it,” said McAleer of the students. “The Jamaica Rotary Club makes these children extremely happy.”

Santa was really a Rotarian

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photop by Alexa Altman

Santa Claus rang his sleigh bells loudly as he combed the halls of the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) Children’s Center. Followed closely by Frosty the Snowman, the pair peeked inside various rooms, searching for children. Toys in hand, they entered one at the end of the hallway — to an eruption of delighted squeals.

For the past 10 years, the Jamaica Rotary and the 112th, 113th and 103rd Precincts, as well as officers from NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South, have teamed up with QCP to provide gifts for the center’s children during the holiday season.

QCP is an organization that provides educational and residential services for children and adults in Queens county living with Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disabilities, in hopes to maximize their quality of life.

Walter Durchalter, Vice President of the Jamaica Rotary, stood amongst the crowd, grabbing gifts off a cart and handing them to the excited children. His four daughters joined him at the event, dishing out gifts and wishing the children a “Merry Christmas.”

“We’re giving out toys to all the residents,” said Durchalter. “It’s something nice to give back to the community.”

Santa and Frosty shuffled down the hallway to another classroom, trailed closely by a caravan of helpers. Santa greeted the next roomful of children, waving and posing for photographs. He wished them a “Merry Christmas” and handed each child a present. Frosty shook hands with kids, dishing out gifts.

According to Durchalter, each toy was purchased by the Rotary using member-donated funds. Even Santa Claus turned out to be Jamaica Rotary President Joe Iaboni.

“I’m here to share in the charity and Christmas spirit,” said Lieutenant Donzel Cleare, head of Community Affairs for Patrol Borough Queens South. “The most important thing is to try to bring a smile to someone else.”

“It’s all about giving back,” he continued. “We take a lot for granted. To come here and do something for someone else, that’s what it’s all about.”

Charles Houston, executive director of QCP since 1988, said he was glad to have the support of so many local individuals.

“Government funding never quite gets us where we need to be,” said Houston. “So we rely on community groups, like the Rotary. Some of these kids don’t get a lot of presents, so [the toy drive] just adds to the holiday spirit.”