SENIOR CENTER COULD BE FORCED TO CLOSE AFTER CITY CUTS OFF FUNDING

By Shannon Ayala

A senior center at 120 West 76th Street called Club 76 could close within months after the city decided not to fund it anymore.

“As of June we’re dead,” said Stu Lahn, a volunteer with Friends of Club 76, which includes club members and supporters, “which will be devastating for several hundred seniors.”

Club 76, part of the Jewish Association of Services for the Aged or JASA, is the only senior center between the Lower East Side and Washington Heights that serves Kosher food, Lahn said.

Beyond the Kosher meals, Club 76 also offers a place for seniors to socialize and engage in activities like bingo. “It’s not only the Kosherness; it’s the activities and everything else,” said Lahn.

Last year the city pulled funding for Club 76 as part of its competitive bidding process. But JASA and supporters rescued Club 76, at least for a year. Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer restored city funds, which were supplemented by JASA. Asked how extracting the funds from the city was possible, Brewer said, “I’m a good legislator. I advocated and I got it.”

That it will happen again is not as certain, the councilwoman said. “I don’t know if I could do it again; it was like a one-year, one-deal reprieve,” she said.

But the city Department for the Aging says seniors will still have plenty of options in the area:

“The Department is opening 3 newly sponsored senior centers in Manhattan  this year with increased programming and opportunities to better serve the boroughs older New Yorkers. In addition, we are working to provide free transportation to two senior centers less than a mile away,” a department spokesperson said.

“DFTA will be meeting with the seniors at the center to share information about nearby programs and those that offer Kosher meals. The number of seniors served in this community district will remain the same with the opening of Lincoln Square Senior Center,” the spokesperson added.

Nevertheless, Brewer, Friends of Club 76 and supporters such as City Council candidate Mel Wymore and the 76th Street Block Association are working on the effort again. Brewer said she is organizing a fundraiser and Friends of Club 76, likewise, are organizing a roundtable discussion in which it will come up. They are also writing letters for potential funders and are engaging politicians Lahn said.

The roundtable discussion, on April 7, is for the City Council candidates running this year to replace Brewer, who is finishing up her final term.

NEWS | 2 comments | permalink
    1. Pedestrian says:

      May be Mayor Bloomberg could stop giving tax breaks to billionaires who buy apartments for over $100 million and give that extra cash to the senior center. Who am I kidding people like those served by the 76th Street Señor Center don’t matter to the Mayor. The plight of workers, the poor, seniors and children is a disgrace but Mayor Bloomberg is working hard to get funding for a Ferris wheel in Staten Island.

    2. Mike says:

      It will turn into a TD Bank in no time. Just what we need