4 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 9, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens Centers for Progress keeps group
homes running with acts of kindness
BY BILL PARRY
It was just over a month ago when hundreds
NYC playgrounds to close to stop coronavirus spread
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
All New York City Playgrounds will be
closed to help stop the spread of the novel
coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo
announced on Wednesday, April 1.
“I’ve talked about this for weeks,” said
Governor Cuomo during his daily coronavirus
briefi ng. “I warned people that if they
didn’t stop the density and the games in the
playgrounds, you can’t play basketball, you
can’t come in contact with each other, that
we would close the playgrounds.”
Th e governor added that the NYPD
needed to get “more aggressive” when it
comes to enforcing social distancing in
Aft er reports of New Yorkers ignoring
social distancing rules in the city,
Governor Cuomo gave on Mayor Bill de
Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey
Johnson 24 hours to come up with a plan
to curb social gatherings in city parks.
“I am not kidding,” said Governor
Cuomo during a press conference on
Sunday, March 22, who then called those
out and about in the city “ insensitive,”
“arrogant” and “disrespectful of other
In response, de Blasio announced that
police offi cers and city park agents would
monitor New Yorkers’ compliance with
social distancing rules and would ramp
up enforcement eff orts by asking New
Yorkers lingering in parks to go home or
separating groups of people and stopping
park games like basketball.
Th e mayor also threatened to lock up
playgrounds that continued to be overcrowded.
A few days later, the city
removed 80 basketball hoops from park
courts across the city as another way to
stop gatherings larger than 10 people
from forming. On Sunday, March 29, the
mayor announced that the NYPD would
begin fi ning people up to $500 for violating
social distancing rules.
Playgrounds in parks outside of the city
will remain open, the governor said.
“We don’t have the same density issue
at playgrounds upstate,” Cuomo said. If
overcrowding becomes an issue in playgrounds
outside of the city though, the
governor will call for state-wide playground
Th e governor did not say when the playgrounds
Photo by Dominick Totino Photography
QCP staff is required to wear PPE
in the homes.
attended the Queens Centers for
Progress 24th annual “Evening of Fine
Food” fundraiser at Terrace on the Park to
benefi t the agency that provides support
to children and adults who have developmental
“All hell broke loose just a week later
with the arrival of the coronavirus emergency,”
QCP Director of Development
Wendy Phaff said.
Every day since has brought new challenges
as the human services agency continues
to operate nine group homes across
the borough that house 78 individuals.
Jessica Dubinsky receives a birthday
cake and balloon at the home she is living
“Five of these homes are currently
under quarantine due to staff or residents
testing positive,” Phaff said. “Let me
tell you about one special heroine, Jessica
Dubinsky, who volunteered to leave her
husband and two teenage kids to care for
our individuals in a quarantined home.
Jessica’s birthday was on March 24 and the
residential director at the home asked for
someone to pick up a small cake for our
staff in quarantine. An hour later, a cake
and a balloon appeared at the doorstep to
Jessica’s home and with tears, she greatly
accepted this kind gesture.”
A member of the QCP staff , Corey
Th ompson, who had been working tirelessly
for weeks made the delivery himself.
It isn’t just the QCP staff that is going the
extra mile during trying times.
Meals have been donated by the community
“Every day brings a beautiful kindness
that people are showing us. Th e community
and businesses are taking care of us,”
Phaff said. “MumsKitchenNYC and P’s
Bakery and Catering who took part in our
Evening of Fine Food have been preparing
meals for our homes. Th e Queens borough
president’s offi ce and Fresh Direct have
provided groceries. A fl orist in Manhattan,
Empire Cut Flowers, had a huge delivery
just when the emergency made them
shut down their business and instead of
letting all of those fl owers wither and die
they sent them to our homes to
cheer everyone up.”
Th e 600 staff members of
QCP have also volunteered
their time to make sure that hundreds
of homebound individuals
who live all over Queens are provided
meals and groceries.
QCP staff is required to wear
PPE in the homes.
“Of course it’s not all rainbows
and unicorns,” Phaff said.
“We’re also running around trying
to gather Personal Protection
Equipment because we are required
to wear them in all of the homes so
we’re competing against hospitals, nursing
homes and other group homes. We
spent $70,000 on PPE in the last two
weeks. Th e cards are always stacked
against us. It’s been an interesting month
that seems like a year.”
QCP is hoping for more acts of kindness
such as meal donations for 15 people
at a time, to source more PPE going
forward or to off er cash donations to
keep these group homes functioning. Th e
agency is also hoping for registered nurses
to volunteer their time.
QPC staff making the best of things
on their 14th day of quarantine.
Anyone interested in donating
can email wphaff @queenscp.org
or call her at 646-801-8786.
Photos via Queens Centers for Progress
QCP staff at one of the quarantined homes were
happy to receive donated fl owers.
Jessica Dubinsky receives a birthday
cake and balloon at the home she is