Apr. 10, 2023 By Gabriele Holtermann
The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) hosted its annual Flushing Spring Family Day in partnership with Empire BlueCross BlueShield and Garden of Hope, at the Kissena Corridor Park on Saturday, April 8.
Families enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon with activities like face painting and Zumba while learning about a variety of community, health and social services available to them.
The event was co-sponsored by New York City Councilwoman Sandra Ung and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. Participants included Big Reuse NYC Sanitation, CAIPA, CPC, GCAC, Glow Cultural Center, KCS, Kissena Synergy, LiveOnNY, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Minkwon Center for Community Action, NewYork-Presbyterian, NYC Votes, NYPD, QARI, Queens Public Library, SACSS and YWCA.
Maggie Wong, director of marketing and community relations at CBWCHC, explained that community members had the opportunity to read books in the Queens Public Library mobile van, get tested for Hepatitis B and learn about curbside composting and recycling, as well as available healthcare services and how to access good low-cost health insurance options available through New York state.
“We work together to invite other partners to join this event and provide resources related to social services, health-related or any government benefits programs,” Wong said.
Gary Tai, community outreach manager at Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus, said the event also educated the public about renewing their health insurance.
According to Tai, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people didn’t have to renew their health insurance because the government had imposed a public health emergency.
“However, now that the pandemic is over and the public health emergency is lifted, people are receiving letters to renew their contracts,” Tai explained. “If you do not respond to those renewal letters, there is a possibility that they will lose their health coverage.”
Liang Ming, program director at Glow Cultural Center, which provides educational, cultural and social programs, said it was “lovely” to see so many people attend the event and noticed that the number of visitors and participating organizations had doubled compared to last year.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate spring,” Ming said. “It’s a lovely season and everyone is taking off their masks.”
Kristen Chi is the executive director at Garden of Hope, which serves victims of hate crimes, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Garden of Hope also has a youth center for middle and high school students, open from 2 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday. Some of the teenagers dedicated their time to helping out at the event.
“We have about 30 to 40 teenage volunteers that go to our center very often,” Chi said. “We provide mentoring, tutoring and also counseling to these kids. Today, they are volunteers and help with the children’s activities.”
Simone Wellington, a computer specialist at the Queens Public Library (QPL), and Indra, manager at the QPL McGoldrick branch, were thrilled to share that they counted 449 kids who visited the mobile library.
“We had kids line up and they were reading ‘Dog Man’ books and ‘Elephant and Piggie’ books,” Wellington said.
Wellington shared that QPL had teamed up with the New York Mets, and bookworms could get a free QPL special edition Mets library card.
“We got a lot of signups today, too, and everybody’s switching their cards,” Wellington said. “We had a good day today.”
Zumba instructor Lamy, who works for CBWCHC and teaches at Glow Center, was thrilled to be a part of the festivities.
“I like to provide Zumba activities for the community,” Lamy said. “Just to expose them to this great activity. It’s good exercise. You don’t have to know anything, just dance and follow the instructor.”