Groups ask for funding at beep budget hearing
by Jason Cohen
Feb 26, 2014 | 793 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz held the annual budget hearing last week at Borough Hall, where over 152 organizations testified and asked for financial assistance.

The budget is negotiated by the City Council and will be finalized at the end of June. By then, Katz will know how much she has to allocate to groups and projects in the borough.

“The Borough Board’s budget hearing allows us to get a great sense of what the top budgetary priorities should be for borough,” Katz said. “Also, being able to take in all this information will help me and the members of our City Council delegation speak with one voice during the upcoming budget talks, which I believe is important if Queens is to get is fair share of City funding.”

Among the many people that spoke was Ishmael Cedeno of the nonprofit Fortune Society in Long Island City and actor Jason Marr of Woodside, founder of the Hip to Hip Theater Company.

Founded in 1967, The Fortune Society helps the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated become positive, contributing members of society. Cedeno, who grew up in the Bronx, attended school in Florida and was incarcerated for six years there.

When he returned to New York, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but things changed when he met Glen Martin, the vice president of Fortune Society. Cedeno began as an intern and has worked there for the past four years.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Cedeno said. “We’re basically a machine with a lot of mechanisms to help clients get through road blocks,” he said. “Once a client, always a client.”

He asked for $10,000 at the budget hearing for an education program that the organization runs for young adults, which help them get internships.

In 2007, Marr and his wife Joy created Hip to Hip because they wanted to share their enthusiasm for great plays with the community. Hip to Hip Theatre Company's mission is to stimulate and develop interest in the theatre arts by presenting free, family-friendly, professional productions of popular classics in public spaces.

Marr said when he and his wife started the organization they expected to put on a show occasionally, but it has grown into so much more.

“The responses were overwhelming,” he said.

They rehearse in June and July and perform an adult and kids show in July and August. Marr said word of mouth spread and people began to ask him if they could have them in their community.

“People are very happy that this has been brought to their neighborhoods,” Marr said.

He has received financial assistance in the past and asked the borough for a little under $10,000.

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