Building a Community Center in the shadow of a pandemic

Published on May 02, 2023

Building a Community Center in the shadow of a pandemic

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHDC) has been serving local residents since 1983. As a nonprofit community development organization and settlement house, CHDC operates with the mission to build a strong, sustainable East New York where both youth and adults achieve educational and economic success, secure affordable housing, and develop leadership skills to transform their lives and the community they live in.

“We are a racially and ethnically diverse community with thriving immigrant populations from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, Mexico and Bangladesh,” says Executive Director, Michelle Neugebauer.  

CHDC has been serving residents from East New York, Cypress Hills, City Line, Starrett City, and Spring Creek since 1983. Its services and programs are available to all community residents while the majority of their board members currently live or work in the neighborhoods. 

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cypress Hill community struggled with food insecurity, unemployment, and housing instability. CHDC took their role as a trusted community partner to the next level and built a solution to help their communities thrive. 

The organization officially opened the doors of their Cypress Hills East New York Community Center in the summer of 2022. The Center significantly increased their capacity to provide high-quality services to the neighborhood.

“The new 34,000 square foot community center and our Innovation and Recovery Fund helps make possible new workforce development, health and wellness, public benefits, education and youth services at the community center and create a one stop services hub for residents,” says Michelle.  

The Center provided new offices for the organization, a commercial teaching kitchen, a Kingsborough Community College satellite campus, a social enterprise cafe, multi-purpose and training rooms for family-oriented education and arts programs, job training, college access and persistence services, multiple recreational spaces, and an amphitheater.

“Now, thanks to Valley Bank you can walk into the Cypress Hills East New York Community Center any day and get immediate help, register for a job training or ESL class, participate in a fitness program,  start up a small business and access multiple supports and opportunities,” says Michelle. 

Valley is proud to support organizations doing such impactful work in our communities. You can learn more about the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation here. 

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