NYCHA REES Zone Coordinators are your personal guides to achieving your economic dreams. They partner with resident leaders and local organizations to connect residents to jobs and job training, adult education, financial empowerment, and business development services close to home. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you can find your Zone Coordinators at the REES office at 787 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they’re out and about in their zones visiting residents and partner programs. Here’s what you should know about Queens Zone Coordinators, Cornell Hampton and Lilliana Perez.
Cornell Hampton, Western Queens (Astoria, Bland, Latimer Gardens, Queensbridge North and South, Ravenswood, and Woodside Houses and the Far Rockaway neighborhood)
He’s part of the newest cohort of Zone Coordinators, on the job for six months now. “It’s a challenge to learn something new, but it’s also a lot of fun. I work with people who are really into what they’re doing and believe in helping residents.”
He’s got a long history with NYCHA: Cornell has worked for NYCHA for almost 35 years. If you were participated in NYCHA’s Sports Unit events, you may remember him. He helped plan and organize many of the programs, including basketball, softball, and track and field events. He used to live in Tilden and Ocean Hill Houses.
Even though he lives in Brooklyn, he’ll always show Queens pride – he also lived in St. Albans for 20 years.
Western Queens Zone partners include: Jobs-Plus Astoria, Jobs-Plus Queensbridge, Urban Upbound, SpotOn Employment, and LaGuardia Community College (CUNY Fatherhood Academy).
He loves working with the CUNY Fatherhood Academy “because they help young brothers, the fathers and expectant fathers get their high school equivalency, put them in a college-like atmosphere, and help them get into college.”
His job is a blessing: “I believe God made this happen for me because I’m in a position to help young adults. A lot of them were kids who were involved in our sporting program. Being involved with REES helps me help them to get an opportunity to better themselves. I also get to work with a great group of people who care about what they do at work, about helping residents and about making sure our partners are on top of their game.”
Lilliana Perez, Far Rockaways and Jamaica (Carleton Manor, Baisley Park, Beach 41st St., Conlon Life Tower, Hammel, Ocean Bay Apartments, Pomonok, Redfern, and South Jamaica)
Lilliana has been a Zone Coordinator for two and a half years. Before that she worked in the Section 3 unit for five years. Even though she’s an East Harlem native, Lilliana knows Far Rockaway: she was originally hired by NYCHA to work on a Hope VI HUD grant – urban revitalization in Far Rockaway.
Far Rockaways and Jamaica Zone partners:
- Jamaica: SUNY Queens Educational Opportunity Center, NYC Business Solutions Workforce1 Center, and Catholic Charities has a financial education and empowerment clinic.
- Far Rockaway, SUNY Attain Lab, CAMBA, and Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation.
Lilliana suggests that residents in the Rockaways check out the SUNY Attain Lab (Advance Tech Training and Info Networking) at Beach 41st, a modern, state-of-the art computer lab where you can learn Microsoft Office and more. “There’s always a computer available there.”
She loves working with Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation, “In my opinion they are the best thing that happened in the Rockaways because they meet residents where they’re at. This is a one-stop shop for residents because they offer employment assistance, referrals to training providers, SNAP screening, free tax preparation, health care screenings, senior workshops, and they’re expanding to offer business development educational services.”
What she loves about her job is seeing how well the REES model works: “We had an event at the Queens Library in Pomonok for construction recruitment. Some of the residents that attended didn’t have their resumes, but the library staff jumped in, signed people up for library cards, and assigned residents to computers to help them print or update their resumes to make sure that everyone was seen before the fair was over.”
She advises residents to take it one step at a time: “We offer everything you need to be completely independent, whether your dream is to own a home or to own a business. People sometimes think that free is easy, but we don’t do easy. We do quality programs that will get you on the path you want to be on. I attend gra duations of some of our programs, and they give me the motivation to get up in the morning and go to work.”