By Emily Drooby
After breaking ground in 2015 the Charles Murphy Early Childhood Development Center is officially open and operating in Coney Island. It’s a state-of-the-art center – providing free, top-notch schooling for low income families.
“I have been here walking through the construction phases so it’s really rewarding to be at the point where we actually have children upstairs in the classrooms,” said Msgr. Alfred Lopinto, the CEO of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
The former center was destroyed seven years ago by Superstorm Sandy. Locals say the loss was a major blow to the community.
“It was a major impact because I knew the kids would have to travel so far but to know that they recovered so fast lets us know that they care about the community and the kids because the kids are our future,” said Albert Ortiz.
The storm devastated New York – claiming the lives of 43 people, affecting 90,000 buildings and causing 19 billion dollars in damage.
Underfunding and scheduling issues caused the recovery effort to be especially difficult in areas like Coney Island, making the reopening of this Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens facility extra special.
Desiree Jackson-Fryson of Catholic Charities says new, stronger construction helps protect the facility from future storms.
“To me it is a beacon of hope, not just to the community but also for others in various communities devastated by Sandy. That we have been knocked down but we were able to build ourselves up and when we built ourselves up we build ourselves better and stronger and more sufficient to handle anything that comes towards us,” said Jackson-Fryson.
In most of the neighborhood many flooding prevention projects are uncompleted and with so much still to be done, Mark Treyger, the districts City Councilman, is proud of the center reopening.
“We are not at the finish line yet but this is a significant step forward and this is a significant day,” said Treyger.