A struggling women's center is ready to move into a new facility in Bayside, Queens, but the city will not release the money already allocated for the center. NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
She may be small in stature, but Ann Jawin is a big fighter when it comes to women's rights.
"I'm a feminist! See this medal? Veteran Feminists of America,” said Jawin, holding up a medal worn around her neck. “My people I worked with -Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug - that's my generation. We don't give up - we fight."
Jawin has been fighting for the Center for the Women of New York for 21 years, but it seems she's run into a brick wall this time. The volunteer group wants to move into a spacious building in Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens to use as a new conference and learning center.
The old building needs to be rehabilitated, and the good news is the money is available. The bad news is the city will not release it. The center will only be reimbursed after it pays construction costs.
"I don't happen to have a million dollars on hand and it's just like a catch-22. How do I get started?" said Jawin.
The center helps needy women find jobs and get their lives back on track. Nancy Abraham says volunteers gave her renewed hope.
"It's been very supportive to me," said client and volunteer Nancy Abraham. "Currently, I lost three jobs in one year and what pushed me was that we have to do something better."
"The women need a safe place to go, where they can feel an environment where they can feel free to share the barriers and challenges that's standing between them and work," said Job Club leader Anne-Marie Ditta.
The center has fought with bureaucratic red tape before. In 1997, the center fixed up and moved into another building in Fort Totten, but in 2002 was kicked out to make room for a fire department facility. A judge ruled in the center's favor.
However, some members are hopefully for a different response from city government.
"This is a program that has been trying to get off the ground for many years, and there is money in place from various elected officials," said Mary Ann Maltese, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Corrozza. "We are hoping now with some new leadership in Albany. We can mainstream the process a little bit."
With city and state budget cuts looming, the future is not looking bright for the center. But Ann Jawin is hopeful her army of volunteers will one day move into its new home.