Tons of bricks poured down on to the sidewalk, crushing a vehicle nearly flat. Tons of bricks fell onto, and then through, the roof of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, badly damaging the kitchen and rear exit. But after all the dust had settled, the prevailing reaction to this incident was that it could have been worse, much worse.
An hour or two earlier and we could be writing a completely different story this week. A car can be replaced. Rubble can be cleared and kitchens can be repaired. A real tragedy would have been to lose someone because of a poorly maintained building. So, we consider ourselves lucky and deal with it.
The Corps building is the home to the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services Woodhaven Senior Center, where many of our seniors come to have lunch and interact with one another. It’s a wonderful program and our immediate concern was that it would be derailed for an extended period of time.
But people put their heads together and came up with a plan to get the seniors through what is now an inconvenience, rather than a tragedy. Shuttle buses will leave from All Nations Baptist Church (80th Street and 87th Avenue, two blocks south of Jamaica Avenue) every half hour between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
The seniors will be taken to the Catholic Charities Senior Center in Ozone Park (103-02 101st Avenue) and they will be provided with transportation back to Woodhaven.
“The people at All Nations could not have been any nicer,” said Debbie Hoffer, director of Field Operations for Catholic Charities Older Adult Services. “They brought out chairs for our seniors to sit on while they wait. They have been very warm and welcoming.”
It is not known for how long the Woodhaven Senior Center will be closed, much of that will depend how long it takes to secure the corner building. Scaffolding and protective fencing have already been erected and workers have begun taking apart the 2nd floor. Once that is secure, work can begin on the Corps’ building.
But the best estimate right now is that we are looking at weeks, not months, before our seniors will be back in their familiar home. “The food was already being prepared in Ozone Park,” Hoffer explained. “So the only real change is going to be how we serve it.”
Meanwhile, the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps also considers itself lucky. The building could have been damaged far worse. The large meeting room, the hallways, bathrooms, offices, garage and the ambulance itself escaped largely unharmed.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Corps President Kathy Sexton Dalbey said, referring to other periods of trouble, including a major fire years ago that did extensive damage. “We’ve always come back strong and this time will be no different.”
Meanwhile, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association will be relocating their Saturday, April 20, meeting, which will now begin at 1 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ (corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, enter through the 91st Avenue entrance).
One of the WRBA’s guests this coming Saturday will be Peter Vallone of the City Council, who is one of six candidates currently running for Queens borough president.
We will be also be discussing Operation Identification, which is offered free of charge by the New York City Police Department. The program involves engraving an identifiable serial number on all portable valuables such as computers, fax machines, copiers, etc., and registering only the number and the owners name and address with the Police Department.
There are some good reasons to participate: (a) the marked property is more difficult for a thief to sell; and (b) stolen property in the possession of a thief is easily traceable and can be returned to its rightful owner.
The WRBA and the 102nd Precinct are holding an Operation ID event on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at our office, 84-20 Jamaica Avenue. You will also be able to register in the Combat Auto Theft (CAT) and Help End Auto Theft (HEAT) programs, as well as scheduling your vehicles for VIN Etching. Hope to see you there!