Most publishing professionals are familiar with the Goddard Riverside Book Fair, an annual fund-raising event organized by the New York City book publishing industry that helps support a wide range of social services delivered by the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. The book fund-raiser is really two events: the Book Fair Gala, which this year will honor Phil Ollila, chief content officer at Ingram, on October 30; and the book fair itself, which will be held November 16–17.
GRCC executive director Roderick L. Jones said the book industry raises about $700,000 annually for the community center, which manages 27 different social service programs at a variety of facilities on the Upper West Side.
PW recently visited the GRCC headquarters and dropped by a number of its venues. The first stop was the GRCC senior center at Columbus Avenue and West 88th Street. It’s one of two GRCC senior centers, which provide social activities, affordable meals, and more for up to 150 seniors a day, out of a total membership of more than 2,000.
Housed in the same facility is TOP Clubhouse, a psychosocial rehabilitation service that caters to adults suffering from mental illness and, in many cases, homelessness. “We push education and employment,” said Todd Renegar, TOP Clubhouse program manager. “And we train our members to help others with mental illness.”
The Goddard Riverside Law Project, at 109th Street and Manhattan Avenue, was founded in 1982 to fight the elimination of single-room occupancy (SRO) dwellings, whose closures were driving up homelessness. Larry Wood, director of organizing at the GRLP, said that the organization now works with apartment renters as well as with the remaining SRO dwellings on the Upper West Side. The organization has six lawyers and four organizers who provide legal support to tenants and work as housing policy advocates to strengthen rent laws.
At the final stop of the day, PW visited the Options Center—a program that offers one-to-one counseling to help high school seniors get into colleges (and that works to help college students stay enrolled). Options works with 200 high school seniors and 50 juniors, and it reaches about 250 additional students via workshop events. It also trains other social service professionals and volunteers to carry out their student support techniques.