WOODSIDE — Woodside on the Move’s after-school programs have been helping local families for many years. Now, activities run by the non-profit group at P.S. 11 and P.S. 152 are in jeopardy, after losing close to $1 million in city funding.
Dozens of parents, children and elected officials rallied with Woodside on the Move Wednesday and Thursday in front of the schools hoping to get at least some of the funding restored.
Ralliers held posters which read: “It’s 3:00 pm. Do you know where your children are?” and “Kids with places to go, end up… going places.”
“This community has been hit really hard,” said Adrian Bordoni, executive director of Woodside of the Move.
He said many children in the area come from working class and immigrant families who can’t afford to send their children to after-school programs that charge fees.
“Some of them will have to cut their hours or even quit their jobs because they will need to stay home and take care of their children,” he said.
Zakir Howlander, whose 9-year old daughter Mrittika attends P.S. 11, said his family will struggle after the programs are gone.
"I’ll do everything for my children and their education,” added Howlander, a 43-year old Bangladeshi immigrant who works as a taxi driver. He has two children and said he was trying to save money for their college education. “Now, it will be harder. I can’t afford it but I guess I will have to hire a private tutor for my daughter."
But Bordoni said that as many as 800 children will be affected, because about 300 children also attend Woodside on the Move summer programs.
He also said around 50 of the organization staff members would lose their jobs and that local vendors from whom Woodside on the Move purchased supplies, would also be affected.
“Without these after-school programs the families of Woodside and their kids will be left without the essential services they rely on at critical point in their lives,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer who has already held four rallies throughout the 26th District to save after-school programs. “I pledge to continue fighting to restore these cuts with the New York City Council because the people of Woodside deserve better.”
Hundreds of parents signed a petition that will soon be sent to the mayor’s office and city council.
Woodside on the Move has been serving the local community since 1976. For the past 6 years it had OST program at P.S. 11, and for the last 4 years at P.S. 152, Bordoni said.
Five days a week from 3 and 6 p.m. programs helped children from age 5 to 12 with their homework. Kids could also participate in a range of enrichment activities, including poetry and dance.
During summers, Woodside on the Move has offered 10-hours a day programs, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., when children participated in many educational trips and projects, including community work, like graffiti removal.
Woodside on the Move programs shares the same fate with nearly 200 other after-school programs in the city, due to funding cuts.
In fiscal year 2012, the OST budget was $91.5 million. For fiscal year 2013 it will be $73 million, according to NYC Youth and Development.
Cathleen Collins, a spokeswoman for NYC Department of Youth and Community Developments, said Friday that because of the budget cuts, program selection was very competitive and “unfortunately, a lot of quality programs were not successful in the RFP process.”