Nov. 4, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
One of the largest community-based organizations in Queens has renovated its longtime headquarters in Forest Hills and will host an Open Day there Saturday.
Queens Community House (QCH) has revamped its Forest Hills Community Center, located at 108-25 62nd Dr., and the public will get a chance to view it from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 5.
The Open Day will feature guided tours of the facility and several presentations about the programs it offers. There will also be a basketball tournament for youths.
The non-profit has modernized the entire facility by overhauling its programming rooms and constructing new meeting rooms. The organization has also overhauled its recreational area, built a new neighbor’s lounge and installed accessibility upgrades including a new elevator and better walkways.
The new space is also brighter and more welcoming, the organization said.
Ben Thomases, the executive director at QCH, said the revamp will ensure the facility that can thrive and serve the community for years to come. Hundreds of people visit the center daily including seniors teens and children.
“The improvement and addition of these program spaces is critical to meet the needs of the communities QCH serves throughout the borough of Queens,” Thomases said.
The center currently houses a senior center and a teen center and offers a range of programs including English language classes, after-school programs and youth leadership programming. It also provides housing services and family support services.
QCH reopened for programming on Sep. 19 having renovated the building over the summer. The organization has run the center since 1976 and now owns the building having purchased it from the tenants of the Forest Hills Coop in December.
The total cost of the entire project is $15 million with funding sourced from government grants and private donors, QCH said.
QCH is still short around $500,000 required to pay for the final phase of the project. The outstanding work includes replacing some windows, renovating an outdoor patio area, new roofing, as well as installing a new heating and cooling unit. It has launched a fundraising drive to help generate the funds.
Toolarie Iqbal, who is the director of the senior center at the facility, said the latest upgrades have sparked plenty of buzz among seniors.
“The renovation…is creating a lot of intense enthusiasm and excitement among the older adults,” Iqbal said.
She said that a previous lack of accessibility at the facility had concerned older adults but the new changes have addressed those issues.
“The renovated space will have an elevator, ADA-compliant doors, and improved walkways, which will make it much easier for everyone to navigate and connect with our different programs,” Iqbal said.
“The multitude of services that are offered at this site to the older adults and the community at large will continue to be a tremendous asset to everyone.”
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