JACKSON HEIGHTS — A group of neighborhood organizations utilized by hundreds of local residents, including an immigrant group and a senior LGBT center, were looking for new space after a massive fire destroyed the building they were housed in.
Four programs operated through the Queens Community House, which is based in Rego Park, were left without a home in Jackson Heights after their offices in the Bruson Building were destroyed in last week's five-alarm fire, according to the QCH.
The fire was sparked by an overloaded power strip, according to the FDNY.
Space is needed for an adult education and English as a Second Language program; immigrant services; a program that helped teens who received a diploma through non-traditional programs apply to community colleges; and Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE,) a senior LGBT organization — the only one like it in the borough.
The group also lost a computer lab, which was utilized by all four programs, and helped 300 residents each day, according to the program.
Temporary space has been secured for some programs — thanks to help from the Sunnyside Community Services and the QCH's location in Kew Gardens, organizers said — but it doesn't cover all of the classes and services provided inside the 37th Avenue building, which they are unable to return to.
Lillian Castillo first utilized the ESOL program when she emigrated from the Dominican Republic, and now works with QCH.
The space was the "first place that welcomed me," she said.
“It was where I met the people who became my friends," she said. "I feel as if I lost my second home in the fire.”
The group is looking for space in either Jackson Heights or Elmhurst to help serve the local residents who utilized their programs, they said.
Employees have started to fundraise to defray the cost of finding a new space, and anyone who's interested in donating can visit their website.