2007-08-03 / Letters

Cynthia Woods Is One Of Rockaway's Treasures

Dear Editor,

Down the Way Productions is the former name of The Rockaway People's Network. This is an organization founded by Cynthia Johnson- Woods. Through this organization, Woods has served the community for more than six years, most recently sponsoring an annual Rockaway reunion, spanning all ages, called the "Function At The Junction." This reunion in the park brings together old residents of Rockaway, many of whom have moved to cities near and far, as far as Florida and California. The event is free of charge and has been presented at Bayswater Park for four years and Riis Park for two years. Music permeates the park, as families and friends join together, cooking and sharing food and fun, while reminiscing over 50 years of memories as residents of the Rockaways.

Cynthia Woods has resided in Rockaway for the past 50 years. The reunion in the park was her brainchild. This community event is "one of a kind," where by word of mouth, residents come together, most recently on Saturday, July 21 in Bayswater Park.

Music was by DJ Darryl Stevenson, and he played quality music all day long from the sixties and seventies. Photos taken by individuals at past events were passed around, and family members of all ages celebrated and fellowshipped with one another. Food was plentiful, provided by each family, and with more than seven Bar-BQue pits active. Embracing and joyful laughter was heard in every corner of the park. Memories were being recalled, as lifetimes of visions passed by in each cluster. All of this was planned, coordinated and made possible through the tough, hands-on planning and orchestration of Cynthia Woods, one of Rockaway's true treasures. She orchestrated a GED Program, sponsored by CWE in the Hammels Community Center, and through her efforts, more than 33 community residents participated.

Woods is currently a transitional teacher at Rikers Island, and has worked in the education system of New York City for the past 27 years. Her experience runs the gamut from paraprofessional to full-time teacher. Her experience teaching at Rikers has changed her life in a spectacular way. She is moved by the productive changes in the young prisoners being educated, and in many cases graduating and moving back into society. Tears fall from her eyes when she sees the recidivist young men she had worked with re-enter the jail.

She has received many awards and certificates of recognition, addressing the work she so freely gives. These awards cover broad areas, recognizing the many talents she so easily displays. She is an active member of the Allen AME church and is thoroughly committed to the work of the ministry. She has been a member of the choir and the Women's Ministry, and quite often she participated in the Women's Ministry retreats.

DON DURANT

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