BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
During the past two decades, Jamaica has grown in leaps and bounds and more growth is projected in the near future. To understand how that growth has impacted the community, the PRESS of Southeast Queens dropped by Jamaica’s shopping strip on 165th Street to talk to residents.
One resident—who goes by the name Jimmy—told the PRESS how he believed Southeast Queens had changed in the last 17 years since the paper debuted.
“To be honest, I don’t think it’s changed enough,” Jimmy said. “I mean, yeah, businesses are coming, people are coming—but there’s still more that needs to be done. Instead of them worrying about bringing more people here, they should worry about helping the ones here already.”
Jimmy, 43, who has lived on Sutphin Boulevard since age 12, said that he continues to see the same people living in poverty. However, now that he’s older, the cycle continues since the people struggling are parents to children, who are also struggling.
Louise Patrick, 78, spoke with the PRESS after she had shopped at Telco.
“I do this every year,” she said. “Whenever it’s a new season, I come right here to get what I need.”
However, the site hasn’t always housed the Telco store. Patrick said that she had been shopping at this specific location—which once housed a Conway store—for years.
“I appreciate all that’s going on in Jamaica and the future plans, but as long as my discount stores don’t go, I’m just fine,” said Patrick. “Shopping along 165th Street is what I do to get out the house. Sometimes, I don’t even buy anything.”
Patrick said that the shopping strip has long been a place to find discounted prices and she hopes that the new development coming to Southeast Queens won’t change this.
Resident Marissa Colon, 53, was shifting through dresses outside of a small boutique along 165th Street to find a perfect dress for her granddaughter’s first communion.
Colon said that she was both emotional and frustrated since it reminded her of the time she was in Jamaica searching for her son’s first communion suit—and here she was years later doing the same for her granddaughter.
“It’s all about tradition and family,” Colon said. “I think that’s something that through all the buildings and future plans for Jamaica, that will never change. It can’t change.”
Colon is a fifth-grade teacher at an elementary school in Jamaica, which she said is a diverse neighborhood.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Colon said. “One thing I know for sure is these children that go to school in Southeast Queens have a very small chance of growing up to discriminate. How can they? They are being raised with all shapes and colors.”
Colon said that Southeast Queens has changed and it’s going to continue changing, but the community’s culture will always remain vibrant.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org