May 9, 2018 By Tara Law
A nonprofit that helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated mothers–and their children–has opened a thrift stop in Astoria.
Hour Children, a nonprofit which was founded in founded in Long Island City in 1986, opened The Hour Children Shops on May 5. The 31-24 Steinway Street thrift store sells curated–but reasonably priced– furniture, household goods, linens and clothes.
The thrift store, along with an existing store at 12-10 36th Avenue in Long Island City, will help support Hour Children’s programs, including eight supportive housing buildings that shelter about 150 mothers and children, a food pantry that serves 9,000 people annually and various counseling, education and childcare programs.
Hour Children also aims to use the store as a platform to introduce more people to the nonprofit’s mission said Jeffrey Smith, an Hour Children development associate. Many of the store’s employees are formerly incarcerated women who have used Hour Children’s programs.
Hour Children’s primary goals are to help children maintain healthy relationships with their mothers while in prison, and to help women rebuild their lives upon release, said Smith.
For children, the effects of losing a parent to prison are similar to having a parent die, Smith said. Hour Children’s programs aim to combat the negative impact on children’s emotional and physical health.
“Even if a parent goes to prison, it’s important that the parent and the child maintain some meaningful connection,” Smith said. “We ask people to imagine what their life would be like if they had been separated from their mother at a young age.”
Mothers can benefit from Hour Children’s programs shortly after their child is born.
Hour Children operates nurseries at Taconic and Bedford Hills correctional facilities, which allow babies to stay with their mothers in prison for up to a year after they are born.
Children can also attend a special camp inside the prison grounds for a week during the summer.
Once mothers are released from prison, they can apply for Hour Children housing, enroll their children in daycare and after school programs, and access jobs and counseling.
Hour Children’s Steinway thrift shop is open 10 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.