Welcoming Jackson Heights Is the Anchor of My Life

By Kasey Dimas

Special to the Eagle

Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens, I learned to appreciate the little things.

From buying $1 churros from the woman at the 74 Street-Broadway train station to seeing our very own, ‘Ms. Colombia,’ flaunt her sass down Northern Boulevard.

Ms. Colombia, also known as Osvaldo Gomez, was found dead in Jacob Riis Park Thursday. She was a vibrant figure in the community and Jackson Heights will miss her.

Kasey Dimas is a Jackson Heights native and freshman at FIT.

Kasey Dimas is a Jackson Heights native and freshman at FIT.

That’s because Jackson Heights is a community full of people who are accepting of your origins, traditions and culture no matter where you come from. From Colombians and Salvadorans to Peruvians and Pakistanis, you get a little taste of everything in such a tiny place.

I think my favorite thing about coming from Jackson Heights is the closeness you feel with neighbors.

Most of us went to the same elementary or middle school so it is isn’t rare to run into and reconnect with an old friend or their mom or dad. It’s a community full of people you know, and if you don't know them, they probably know someone you know.

That’s something I’ve always loved about Queens: You’re bound to know a person one way or another regardless of their location, age, race, gender or background.

Jackson Heights is the anchor of my life.

No matter if I commute 40 minutes to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology, or an hour and a half to Brooklyn, or even 20 minutes to Flushing, I’ll return to Jackson Heights, my home, at the end of the day.

Nothing feels more authentic to me than seeing the woman selling fresh tamales at six in the morning by the train station or seeing a mother and her child collecting bottles.

It isn’t like Manhattan where you have to dress to impress or push through tourists to get to work on time. The people in my neighborhood don’t take every day for granted. Life does not just pass them by. Every day is a worthwhile day.

Whether you sell fresh-cut mango, babysit kids in your home or take the 7 train to a construction site, we are grateful for the opportunities given to all of us. We’re a very humble community, a trait that is not so easy to find in other places around New York City.

Dimas is a freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology.