Our media company is a labor of love that began with The Queens Courier in my living room in 1985. I found my passion — the news business. As a former grade school reading teacher my career took a very sharp turn with the birth of my first-born child. Before her second birthday she was diagnosed with severe brain damage from a birth injury. In 1970 we brought her to a “school” on Staten Island in hopes that their Infant Rehabilitation Center might help her with their physical and occupational therapies.
Shortly after, I founded Life’s WORC, the Working Organization for Retarded Children, a group of wonderful, caring people who had healthy children but wanted to help me. We raised thousands of dollars and organized busloads of volunteers to donate their time to help the children at Willowbrook. But state budget cuts at the school caused dramatic service and staffing cutbacks causing people to die.
It was a cold rainy day in 1971 when I picketed with WORC members, fighting for the rights of my daughter Lara and the 5,400 other residents at the “school” who resided at the Willowbrook State School for the Mentally Retarded. No one heard our cries until the news media (Geraldo Rivera, most notably) filmed and reported on the abominable conditions at the “school.” It left a lasting impression on me how the power of the press helped focus on the needs of people with mental retardation and ultimately brought change forever. I had a dream to one day be in the news business myself.
As a young mother of four children, I was searching for a career that would allow me to work but be available to my children. With an initial partner, who went on to other projects, he helped teach me the news business. I was the inquiring photographer, news reporter, and finally salesperson.
In 1985, I saw how all the apartment buildings in northeast Queens were going co-op. It seemed to me that if people owned their apartments, there is a greater interest in the schools, the political and civic scenes. We decided to start a weekly newspaper as partners and called it The Queens Courier.
Today, The Queens Courier is part of the largest group of local community newspapers, magazines covering Queens and Brooklyn.
In partnership with my son Joshua Schneps, we continue to grow and have expanded our business into powerful digital assets including news and community websites, email newsletters and social media channels as well as powerful networking events covering Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
It wasn’t an easy path. As graduates are advised, always reach for the stars and never give up, and always demand the best of yourself and others working with you. No is not in my vocabulary.
Our passion for bringing the finest quality news to you is stronger than ever. We thank you, readers and advertisers, for all your support in making it possible. We have restated our mission in fewer words, “We’re All About You.”
— Victoria Schneps-Yunis