QUEENS Administrators from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York were on hand June 20 to join staff and parents in opening the agencys newly relocated VNSNY Early Steps Family Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. The center, originally located on Rockaway Beach Blvd., experienced severe damage during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, prompting the agency to move the facility.
Vivian Torres-Suarez, RN, MBA, vice president for children and family services, hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony and offered congratulations to Carmen Ayala, the centers executive director, and the centers staff.
I would like to give special thanks to our employees and staff, Torres-Suarez said. It has been a very long road rebuilding this center, both for our staff and the families it serves.
Rockaway resident Chaundelle Hubbard, an assistant teacher with the centers Early Head Start program, opened the ceremony with a mission reflection. According to Torres-Suarez, Hubbard became a shoulder to lean on and a helping hand in the aftermath of the storm and continues to be an asset to the center and the community at large.
October 29 is a day I will always remember, Hubbard told the audience. Reflecting on the transition from devastation to restoration has given me great confidence.
VNSNY President and CEO Mary Ann Christopher, MSN, RN, FAAN, also expressed her gratitude and pride for the job the centers staff has done to ensure a space for families and children.
As I look out across this tremendous rooftop, where Im sure a lot of babies and little ones love to play, I really rejoice in the joy that all of you have brought because there is no one here on this roof that didnt touch the recovery efforts during Superstorm Sandy, Christopher said. Its really a celebration of what happens when the collective gifts of each person are counted.
The center provides Early Head Start services for pregnant women and children through age 2, and Head Start services for children ages 3 and 4. It is open all year, except for two weeks in August. The center also is the home of VNSNYs Fathers First program, which provides healthcare referrals, job listings, assistance with legal issues, counseling and other help for dads.
The original space was inundated with four feet of water and sewage when Superstorm Sandy hit the area, ruining all the classrooms and administrative offices. The new space at 2-17 Beach 87th St. includes classrooms, playrooms, outdoor play spaces, a multipurpose room for community partnership use and meeting space for those who have lost their own spaces because of Sandy.
Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter for Nurse.com.