After over a decade of affordable day care for the families of Co-op City, the Gloria Wise Community Center is getting closer to being shut down for good.
The center, which was founded by Gloria Wise and volunteer parents who wanted to create better educational opportunities for the children of Co-op City, was the center of a national scandal in 2006 when executive directors pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million to fund the former Air America Radio Station.
During its peak years, Gloria Wise was highly successful and was funded by $10 million in city contracts that allowed the center to cater to over 20,000 children, seniors and handicappedCo-op City residents.
The center, which is located at 950 Baychester Avenue and owned by RiverBay Corporation, is currently being evicted from a 10,000 square-foot building by the Riverbay Board of Directors and is set to shut down this June.
On Thursday, March 17, parents and other residents of the Co-op City community joined at the center to protest the upcoming eviction, which according to the board is not being properly funded.
“I think the rally overall went very well,” said Ben Randazzo, chief of staff to Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. “Those who came are obviously in favor of the center. The problem is, however, is that they lost their funding.”
The center currently provides day care for 53 children ages three to five from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., offers after school programs for 40 kids ages six to 14, and also offers physical and speech therapy for another 20 children.
The center currently charges approximately $570 per month for each child. However, the Co-op City Board of Directors says it’s not enough money to keep Gloria Wise open.
Locals who attended the rally believe the board of directors are more interested in making money and are driving the children of the center into the streets from a program that is supposed to educate them and keep away from trouble.
“Co-op City is more concerned about the money then its kids,” said Frederick Lewis, chief executive director of the Gloria Wise Center. “They want to squeeze every penny out of this property, which is offering inexpensive day care for working-class people.”
According to sources, Riverbay Corporation is looking to replace Gloria Wise with another organization that will be able to better serve Co-op City, however, Riverbay would not comment on the matter.