Community leaders, neighbors and elected officials congratulated Dr. Zodelia Williams, the founder and executive director of 3D’s Aftercare Inc., last Friday on the grand opening of her organization’s new location on Merrick Road in Baldwin.
It was also a celebration of the organization’s 13th anniversary.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by representatives of the Baldwin Civic Association and the Chamber of Commerce, County Executive Laura Curran, State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, County Legislator Debra Mulé, Hempstead Town Council members Chris Carini and Dorothy Goosby, and Williams’s family members.
The nonprofit, which is dedicated to caring for teenagers and children, especially after school while their parents work, is housed at its original site, 3D’s Community Empowerment Center, at 586 Seaman Ave.
And while the old location will still be used in various ways, Williams plans to transition to the new location, at 881 Merrick Road. Measuring about 4,400 square feet, it’s significantly larger than the original site.
There are seven rooms in the street-level center, under the First Church Baldwin United Methodist Church.
“You are an example of a true grass-roots person,” Mulé told Williams at the ceremony. “You really started from the ground up. Like a garden, we’ve seen you grow from the ground up. I know, also, that you are a woman of deep, deep faith. Everything you do comes from your faith in God, and I think it’s so appropriate that you’re here in a church.”
“After-school programs can be an important service for many children and parents, providing safety and support — pandemic or not,” Curran said in a statement. “More power to Zodelia, seeking to empower children, create confidence and encourage academic accountability.”
Mulé and Curran presented Williams with citations.
Griffin also presented her with a citation, “acknowledging her continued commitment to the community and help in revitalizing downtown Baldwin,” she said in a statement.
“In these challenging times, it’s wonderful to see established local businesses flourish and expand,” Griffin said.
Additionally, on behalf of Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin and the Town Board, Carini and Goosby presented Williams with a citation to wish her continued success in Baldwin.
“She believes that all children have a right to be free from the circumstances or challenges that confront them,” Carini said of Williams, “and they should be encouraged to dream big and given tools to make their dream come true.”
Karen Montalbano, of the Baldwin Civic Association, also gave Williams a certificate, and thanked her for remaining in Baldwin and working on behalf of the community.
At the ribbon cutting, in one of the large rooms, Williams thanked the local representatives for their kind words, citations and warm wishes, and invited them to walk through and see the other rooms in a socially distanced manner.
“There are five other rooms in the back, and those rooms are all sponsored, painted by different organizations,” Williams explained, “the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., the Blacklist, the National Coalition of Black Aviators, STRONG Youth, and the Association of Black Social Workers.”
Sponsoring a room meant that the organization or business provided the paint, materials and people power needed to enhance the room, and they pledged to do so in an energy-efficient manner.
In return, sponsors’ names are featured on plaques in their respective rooms, as well as on social media posts, and sponsors will be offered free use of their spaces for meetings three times a year. They will also be able to use the original 3D’s location for events once it is safe to do so.
The center offered sponsorship opportunities to groups and organizations to collaborate and build on partnerships within the community, and to help ensure a seamless transition for the students.