After a community center closes its doors unexpectedly, Far Rockaway residents struggled with where to bring their children.
Now - as NY1's Lindsay Tuchman reports - a new group has agreed to take over the reigns.
Janet Ihim has lived in Far Rockaway her whole life, and is now raising her five children here in the Redfern neighborhood.
Normally, when she works, her kids go to the Redfern Community Center after school, but that all changed when the center suddenly closed its door a few weeks back.
"That's been very hard,” she said. “They've been at a neighbor’s house, they've been all over the place, I haven't had a dedicated babysitter for the kids."
The center was run by the Police Athletic League, but after the group suspended services without warning, the Department of Youth and Community Development turned to the Child Center of New York, a Queens-based non-profit, and asked the organization to take over.
CEO Traci Donnelly said agreeing was a no-brainer.
"Without these programs, you're leaving parents without a safe option for their children,” she said. “So I think we push for funding, we're pushing for advocacy and we take opportunities like this, and continue to find what the silver lining is."
Councilmember Donovan Richards (D – Far Rockaway) said maintaining a safe haven for the area's youth is imperative.
"This was one of the murder capitals and one of the most violent places in Queens,” he said. “We have one of the highest youth populations in the city and one of our challenges has always been the lack of recreation space"
That sentiment is a big reason Ihim is eager to get the doors open once again.
“It would have been like a big hole in the community, a lot of things, crime, would be going up,” she said. “The crime is down because of the center, because if no more center than the kids have nothing to do, they get into everything."
Not only will the community center be reopening but they're going to be revamping it as well. The Child Center will update both the infrastructure and the programming as well as hire more staff.
The group is expediting the transition to be able to reopen in roughly two weeks.