2011-12-23 / Community

New Program Brings Jobs To Rockaway Residents

Everybody would agree that unemployment is one of Rockaway’s major economic problems. With few jobs available on the peninsula outside of the health care field, many locals are continually seeking jobs.

Now, however, at least 60 Far Rockaway residents will land jobs throughout the city in 2012 thanks to a new grant aimed at giving a boost to the isolated peninsula.

The New York Community Trust awarded a $40,000 grant this month to Ocean Bay Community Development Corp., a local group that partners with public housing residents in Rockaway with job initiatives.

“People are losing their jobs and coming back to us,” Executive Director Pat Simon told Daily News reporters. “More people are looking for jobs to really sustain themselves.”

“[Rockaway] is such an isolated neighborhood and there’s just so much need,” Patricia Swann, senior program officer with the New York Community Trust, which has helped the group since 2007, told the News.

The organization also identifies job opportunities for former inmates — an important step to prevent individuals from getting into trouble again.

“We have major problems with crime infesting [this area],” said James Morris, a service coordinator with the Ocean Bay Community Development Corp. “Having a source where they can get connected to training ... avoids the trap they can fall into.”

For some who have worked with the organization, the job support has been a lifesaver.

“They sent me out on an interview and I got the job,” said Stephanie Alston, 29, who grew up in the neighborhood and now works as a residential aide at a Brooklyn housing agency.

“They give you hope. There’s no other way to explain it,” added Mario Rodriguez, a 39-year-old maintenance worker. “They give you tools to accomplish what you really want,” he said.

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