A Better Jamaica

Engaged In Activities Designed To Strengthen A Set Of Southeast Queens Communities Known Collectively As Jamaica


Greetings!It’s been a minute since I’ve sent one of these “monthly” updates, but as most of you know, there’s been a distraction or two. Just because you haven’t heard from me, don’t think that we have been resting on our laurels. In fact, we’ve been busier than ever here at A Better Jamaica. Below, please find updates on just a few of the projects that we’ve been focused on. If reading about our work excites something in you, then you should definitely feel free to send a donation by hitting the “Donate Now” button below. Thank you!

Greg Mays, Founder & Executive Director

ABJ Advocacy
ABJ Advocacy is the banner under which we fly our efforts that are not quite programs, but are nonetheless efforts that we believe will strengthen the community. Most active of our current advocacy efforts is our effort to have a skate park built at Laurelton Playground. For that effort — Sk8 Jamaica — we’re partnering with Community Boards 12 and 13, and several of the local civic organizations. Why a skate park in southeast Queens? Because skateboarding is the third most popular sport for teens — just behind football and basketball. Why Laurelton Playground? Because the parks department likes to build skateparks where: 1) there is presently asphalt; 2) the asphalt area is presently underutilized; and 3) there is evidence of skateboarding. Laurelton Playground fits the bill perfectly and is also quite visible — as it is just off the Belt Parkway. If you think that a skatepark at Laurelton Playground is a good idea, then please participate in the rally that we’ve planned for Saturday, April 5th from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. If you can’t make it out, then at least sign the petition found at: http://chn.ge/1jJCSOU

The Jamaica BallSaturday, May 17th from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am will witness the third annual Jamaica Ball. For those of you who don’t know, the Jamaica Ball is the collective fundraiser for Jamaica based/focused non-profits who believe that when it comes to a party, bigger is better. As in previous years, this “party with a purpose” will give local non-profits the opportunity to sell $50 tickets and keep $45 of each ticket sold. We’re able to do this by securing sponsors who cover the cost of the event. Thus far, returning sponsors include The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and Resorts World Casino. We still need one or two more sponsors to make the numbers work, but we’re gonna go ahead and take a leap of faith — praying that we don’t go bankrupt in the process. We’ll return to downtown’s Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC) for a third and final year so get your tickets fast when they go on sale in a couple of weeks. JPAC maxes out at 250 guests for this type of event and we had over 200 guests last year.


Cinema en Español
This past February and March, we piloted our latest program offering — Cinema en Español. This Spanish language (with English subtitles) series targets downtown Jamaica’s burgeoning Spanish speaking population. We partnered with Centro Hispaño Cuzcatlan to help reach this often hard to reach population, and will hopefully do so again in the Fall when we hope to present the first of ten monthly movies on the second Saturday of the month. If you know of someone who might want to partner with us on this effort, then please have them reach out to me.

JAC’s Holiday Music If you are one of the lucky few hundred, then you witnessed the first annual “JAC’s Holiday Music” — our live music series presented on the token booth level of the Jamaica Center subway station. For six evenings between Christmas and New Years we presented five singers, a string trio, and a steep pan player — all presenting a little bit of holiday merriment to Jamaica’s commuters. With a little fundraising success, we’ll be back next year. In the meantime, check out a clip of one of the performances.



Jamaica Reads For a fourth year in a row, Jamaica Reads is deploying a group of senior-citizens to P.S. 48 to work one-on-one with students struggling with the acquisition of their reading skills. For a second year in a row, we’re partnering with Reading Partners to deliver this well needed service. There are never enough volunteers to meet this extraordinary need, so if you have an hour or two to spare during your week, then sign up with Reading Partners (http://www.readingpartners.org) to volunteer. In doing so, you might change the trajectory of a child’s life.


City Council and Borough President Discretionary FundingFor those of you who don’t know, we’re in the middle of submitting applications to City Council Members and the Borough President requesting funds that would be used between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. We submitted a number of applications to several different council members and the Borough President. If you are friends with any of these folks, then please put in a good word for us. Thanks!

Everything ElseAll of our other ongoing efforts — Family Movies in the Park, Jamaica311, Classic Film Fridays, and Jamaica Solutions — are in the active planning stages. Stay tuned for more on each of them in future updates. If you know of possible funders, then please have them contact Greg Mays at (718) 657-2605 or greg.mays@abetterjamaica.org. Onward and upward!

Support for A Better Jamaica has been provided by: People Like YouA Better Jamaica’s Board of DirectorsAllen Transportation Corporation Greater Jamaica Development Corporation • Hitachi Foundation Hitachi Metals America Independence Community Foundation • Jamaica Center Business Improvement District • Former New York City Council Member James Gennaro • Former New York City Council Member Leroy Comrie • New York City Council Member Ruben Wills New York City Council Member Thomas White, Jr. (Sadly Deceased) • New York City Department of Cultural Affairs • New York City Department of Education New York City Department of Parks and Recreation • New York City Department of Youth and Community Development • New York City Department for the Aging New York City Small Business Services • New York State Assembly Member William Scarborough • New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation • New York State Senate Member Malcolm Smith • Pathmark • Former Queens Borough President Helen Marshall • Queens Council on the Arts • Target TD Charitable Foundation Walmart • New York State Assembly Member Barbara Clark

For more information on A Better Jamaica and other community organizations please hit us up at RandyKFisher@Gmail.com.

Posted by Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher (Twitter @HHSYC)