Sept. 21, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Woodside on the Move is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, and will be reflecting on its growth from a small civic association to a large service organization at Claret Wine Bar on Skillman Avenue next week.
The organization, which provides services such as affordable housing support, after-school programming, and advocacy on behalf of local businesses, was founded in 1976 with the mission of revitalizing downtown Woodside. Over the years it expanded its mission based on the needs of the community, according to WOTM Executive Director Amy Paul.
For the 40th anniversary celebration, the organization will host the “Fall for Woodside Community Awards” to honor five individuals/groups that represent the different programming Woodside on the Move offers.
The celebration will be held at Claret Wine Bar, located at 46-02 Skillman Avenue, from 6-9pm on September 27. For tickets click here.
The honorees will include Vincent Vitolo, the principal of PS 152, who has worked with the organization to develop after school programming; Maria Iglesias, the owner and chef at La Adelita bakery who is an active community member; Rachel Avendula of Payag Restaurant; Stablizing NYC, an organization working to support those who need affordable housing; and St. Pat’s For All, an inclusive Saint Patrick’s Day organization that has done a lot of work surrounding LGBTQ inclusion in the traditional parades and festivities.
“We are celebrating these five awardees that represent the different programs of Woodside on the Move and also using it as a call to action,” Paul said. She added that it is a chance to “remember all the activists who have gotten the organization to be 40 years old and to invite more people to get involved with the organization.”
Throughout its history, Woodside on the Move has worked on quite a few causes, depending on what was most needed at the time.
During the housing crisis of the 1980s, the organization offered assistance with placing people in affordable housing, and has continued to help with similar issues since. “Now we are not just social services, but we are also organizing and making sure that tenant leaders stand up to landlords and help vulnerable tenants in a climate of big real estate,” Paul said.
Through the housing work, the social service aspect of Woodside on the Move began to take shape, Paul said, and expanded to include employment services and housing advocacy that still exists today. The group also began to hold small after school arts and homework programs, which have now expanded to four local schools, and WOTM holds two summer camps for kids every summer.
Paul said that part of future planning involves looking toward the past for inspiration. “Part of it is going back to our roots and going back to the idea of a civic association, and neighbors getting together,” she said. “As Woodside on the Move has become more institutionalized, people come in for our services, but we are also trying to do more grassroots efforts to bring our diverse community members together.”
She said that the group has done work including cosponsoring a panel discussion on gentrification last week, and is working to advocate on behalf of small business rights.
“With a lot of development planned for Queens, we want to make sure we are working on community driven solutions, and that we are at the table and not just at the receiving end of these major decisions,” Paul said.