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Bronx House

Bronx

Bronx House was founded in 1912 as a music school and is now a multi-service, community-based organization serving a variety of populations in the north Bronx. They provide early childhood education, after-school programs, a senior center, day camp, a fitness center, a teen center, and a school for performing arts. Each year, Bronx House serves more than 15,000 people.

Arif

Arif Mehmataj, a fit 17 year old looks like he would be good at sports.  In fact, his outstanding athletic abilities have opened up doors to college scholarships at highly-ranked schools.  Five years ago, he began playing sports at Queens Community House (QCH) in Forest Hills through the Teen Outreach Athletics Program. 

“I came to Forest Hills from Jamaica, Queens, and didn’t know anyone in the area,” explained Arif, a senior at Forest Hills High School.  “The Center welcomed me and helped me learn about the community and its people.  It used to be mostly kids from around here, but recently I’ve been meeting more and more people from other neighborhoods who come to hang out.” 

What you might not guess about Arif is that he also enjoys spending time with the older adults who he has met through QCH’s NICE (Neighborhood Intergenerational Chore and Errand) Program.  The NICE program offers teens a paid job serving homebound older adults who are living in isolation and rely on a friendly face to help them with laundry, shopping and other everyday chores.

“I joined NICE because I believe that if you are given an opportunity, you should take it.  This is my way of giving back, keeping positive and supporting my community, while getting valuable experience,” he says.

Arif is currently applying to colleges and has accessed some of QCH’s college readiness programs to assist him with the process. He has forged deep and meaningful relationships with QCH staff as well as the older adults he has worked with.

“QCH is a home for me,” he said.  “When I needed it, this place was my safe zone.  I’ve also had some wonderful mentors.  They were always there for me, always supported me.  They are like family.”

Via Queens Community House