CFR Benefit Fair Enlightens Community Leaders
The Coalition for Far Rockaway’s (CFR) Women’s Empowerment Committee hosted representatives of agencies that serve the Rockaways and community members at a Far Rockaway Benefits and Information Fair on August 18. Held at the Beach Club, the event featured a buffet breakfast, special presentations by representatives of four of the participating agencies and various informational tables.
“One thing that came out of the committee was to have a session to bring all the leaders of the community together to learn about this stuff,” said CFR’s Harvey Gordon, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula, about the availability of services in the Rockaways.
James Glasser (Social Security Administration – SSA), Cindy Katz (Queens Legal Services Corp. – QLSC), Kathy Rosenberg (Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula – JCCRP – Medicaid Managed Care) and Fern Zagor (Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center) spoke for their respective agencies.
“Every day we are open we have people who are eligible for benefits [they don’t know about come in to us],” said Glasser, who listed retirement, survivors and disability benefits – as well as SSI – as just some of the types of social security available. “If you ever have a life a changing situation… it is definitely to your advantage to inquire to see if you are eligible for a certain kind of social security.”
At JCCRP’s Medicaid Managed Care program Rosenberg explained that every day her agency helps people with problems such as benefit cuts and double billing for lab tests. The agency works with legal aid and the MCCAP Program (Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program) to help its clients.
QLSC has many different initiatives to help the community.
Through its family law initiative the agency helps to protect victims of domestic violence. Through its HIV/ AIDS Advocacy Program they work with “individuals and families affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis,” said Katz, a Coordinating Attorney at QLSC.
QLSC also has a consumer unit, a senior law unit, an education unit to represent parents of children in city schools with a problem, a taxpayer problem program and a food stamp program.
Zagor, the Chief Administrator of Community and Mental Health at Addabbo, spoke about poor state of health in the Rockaways.
“We have a high risk… because of our isolation, large pockets of poverty and an estimated 14 percent are uninsured,” said Zagor, who cited health profiles of city neighborhoods released last year. These profiles showed that the Rockaways are among the worst in general health, maternal and child health and chronic diseases.
“Our challenge here in Rockaway is different than anywhere else in New York City when you add to it the isolation.”
It is for that reason that the Rockaway Health Alliance (RHA) was formed. The members of the alliance include St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Peninsula Hospital Center and Addabbo Family Health Center.
“Our challenge is to improve general health, reduce health disparities, [and] to mobilize and empower the community to strive toward health,” explained Zagor, who gave step-by-step instructions on using RHA’s new website during her presentation. “It’s all our responsibility to create a culture of health in Rockaway.”
Twenty-five agencies that serve the Rockaways ran exhibition tables where they handed out information and answered questions about their organizations.
In addition to the agencies mentioned above, some other participants were Caribbean Women’s Health Association, New York City Department for the Aging, Queens Borough Public Library, Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp., Safe Space Prevention and Family Rehabilitation Program and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
To inquire about social security benefits call the SSA at (800) 772-1213. The website for RHA is www.healthyrockaway.com.