When the furniture store at 78-19 Jamaica Avenue partially collapsed in April of 2013 spewing debris onto the street, no one could envision the toll that it would still be taking on the Woodhaven neighborhood a year later.
The collapsed structure has been an eyesore in the community, attracting litter and graffiti, and has forced the neighboring Woodhaven Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps to scramble to stay afloat financially.
Debris obstructed the exit of the senior center that rented space in the building, so the center has since relocated and the ambulance corps lost a valuable source of income.
Today, the group lacks sufficient funds to fix a hole that the collapsed building tore into the wall, which has been causing severe water damage. The building continues to deteriorate as the corps languishes.
The owner of the building, George Kochabe, was given until this October to fix his collapsed structure, but until then the ambulance corps is struggling to survive and is at risk of losing its nonprofit status.
So Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman Michael Miller, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Eric Ulrich have teamed up with the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association to host a fundraiser for the group.
“When the bricks fell from the top story of the Jamaica Avenue building, it had a ripple effect across our community,” Addabbo said. “[The Corps] has been a vital piece to assisting in emergencies and just helping people during their day-to-day lives. Their work and commitment provided us all with a sense of ease, and now our main focus is getting that back and getting them back on their feet.”
To help support the group, the officials have planned a fundraiser—a 50’s-themed pasta dinner—for Saturday, September 20, at 5 p.m. at the Emanuel United Church of Christ, located at 93-20 91st Avenue in Woodhaven.
Tickets for the event are available at projectwoodhaven.com.
“With the city’s response times to medical emergencies at an unacceptable high, the Woodhaven Richmond Hill Ambulance Corps. provides vital supplemental emergency services in our community,” Crowley said. “We need to come together to make sure we don’t lose this important partner in saving lives.”