Tag Archives: senior centers

Queens students bridge the generation gap using makeovers


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of GlamourGals and by William Mebane

Using makeup and nail polish, hundreds of Queens teens are bridging the gap between two generations.

Nearly 185 high school students in the borough have joined in a nonprofit’s cause to provide friendship and free makeovers to women living in senior homes.

The after-school leadership program, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc., has spread to 83 chapters in the country, including seven high schools in Queens.

“We’re bringing together two fragile populations,” said Kavita Mehra, vice president of GlamourGals. “Our volunteers come back to us and constantly share what they’ve learned from the seniors and their experiences.

We’re building compassionate, young leaders who are making a positive difference in their community.”

The teens visit local nursing homes and senior centers at least once a month for community service credit, Mehra said. They give hand massages, file down and paint nails, and apply foundation, blush and lipstick using clean, hypoallergenic materials supplied by the organization.

“What young woman doesn’t love nail polish and what older woman doesn’t love to be pampered? It’s a great way to start a conversation,” Mehra said. “It’s something about the human touch that can break immediate barriers.”

Eghosa Asemota, 19, a former Queens chapter president, said the program transformed her life after a traumatic car accident left a scar on her face.

“Before I joined GlamourGals, I was a quiet girl. I walked with my head down,” said the Ozone Park resident. “The more I visited nursing homes, the bolder I got. I was able to build that confidence again.”

Asemota, now a sophomore at Adelphi University, led the chapter at Thomas A. Edison High School, which boasts nearly 100 volunteers, in her senior year. The seniors, she said, became her own family.

“My grandparents live in Nigeria. I don’t necessarily get to speak with them a lot. Having these elderly women filled the void of a special grandmother,” she said. “I was able to give them a purpose, and they gave me a purpose.”

GlamourGals was established 13 years ago. Since then, its programs have spread to the Academy of American Studies, Thomas A. Edison, Townsend Harris, Robert F. Kennedy, Forest Hills, Flushing, and Cardozo high schools in Queens.

The organization also awards a select group of volunteers yearly with $1,000 scholarships and paid fellowships.

“We help them develop their fullest potential, and for the elderly, we demonstrate that they are not forgotten,” Mehra said.

 

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Warming centers in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

As temperatures remain well below freezing, the city is providing warming centers in each of the five boroughs, located within senior centers.

They will be open this Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Click here for a list of warming center locations in Queens and the rest of New York City.

 

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Budget may force senior centers to close


| mchan@queenscourier.com

DSC_0096

Budget slashes may force closure upon the Korean-American Senior Center, leaving hundreds of hungry, homebound Asian seniors in Queens without a hot meal.

The Corona-based senior center — along with five others in the borough — is up on the chopping block if Borough President Helen Marshall is not able to restore $1.6 million in discretionary funding to keep them up and running.

Marshall and the Borough Board — made up of the borough president, district council members and chairs of each of the borough’s 14 community boards — approved a $258.6 million budget priorities package on March 13.

“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” Marshall said.

Heading the top of the list is restoring funds to save the Forest Park Senior Center, the Kew Gardens Senior Center, SAGE/Queens Senior Center, Korean-American Senior Center, Bell Park Senior Center and LeFrak Senior Center, said a spokesperson for the borough president.

“We need the funding. Without it, our center would be in jeopardy, and without the center, the seniors’ lives would be very hopeless,” said Helen Ahn, director of the Korean-American Senior Center in Corona. “It really worries me.”

Ahn said her center is currently supported by the borough president’s discretionary funds, although it has already seen up to 50 percent in cuts. The Korean-American Senior Center used to receive $215,000 in funds, but now only gets about $110,000, she said.

“Our senior center is the only one — the only unique homebound program for Chinese and Korean homebound seniors in Queens. If we cannot sustain the senior center programs, we don’t have any place to prepare these meals,” said Ahn, who added that the mobile meal program reaches close to 100 homes.

The budget cuts also mean the Forest Park Senior Center will face the ax once more, after it narrowly escaped closure last year, receiving $120,000 in funding — half from the City Council and the other half from the borough president — at the last minute.

“Every year at this time, I feel like I’m Chicken Little,” said Donna Caltabiano, the center’s executive director. “If it wasn’t for the borough president and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, we wouldn’t be open this year, and we won’t be open next year if they don’t help us again. We need them even more than ever.”

Caltabiano said the center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 40 to 45 seniors who use the center daily.

“They will not go to another place. They will not. This is their home,” she said.

Ulrich said he would try and pull through for the center again this year.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Every year, we seem to be in the same predicament,” he said. “The Forest Park Senior Center does a wonderful job of providing services to the senior population in Woodhaven and Forest Park. I’ll do everything I can to fight and keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Caltabiano said she and the seniors can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m hoping for another miracle. I’m hoping for Christmas in June,” she said.

 

Will Forest Park Senior Center close its doors for good?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Another round of budget cuts may force the Forest Park Senior Center — along with five others in the borough — to close its doors for good.

The Woodhaven-based center narrowly escaped the chopping block last year, after it received $120,000 in funding — half from the City Council and the other half from the Borough President — at the last minute.

But it faces the threat of potential closure once again this year.

“Every year at this time, I feel like I’m Chicken Little,” said Donna Caltabiano, the center’s executive director.

Marshall and the Borough Board — made up of the borough president, district council members and chairs of each of the borough’s 14 Community Boards — approved a $258.6 million budget priorities package on March 13.

“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” Marshall said.

Heading the top of the list, Marshall said, is restoring $1.6 million in discretionary funding to keep the Forest Park Senior Center, the Kew Gardens Senior Center, SAGE/Queens Senior Center, Korean-American Senior Center, Bell Park Senior Center and LeFrak Senior Center up and running.

“If it wasn’t for the borough president and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, we wouldn’t be open this year, and we won’t be open next year if they don’t help us again. We need them even more than ever,” Caltabiano said. “Last year, we really felt like it was the end. We were actually in a closed-down mode, and we already broke the news to our seniors.”

Caltabiano said the center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 40 to 45 seniors who use the facility daily.

“They will not go to another place. They will not. This is their home. Their friends are here. They even have a certain seat that they sit in every day. For the majority of them, this is their center,” she said.

To keep their home, the seniors — and Caltabiano — are prepared to fight for it once more.

While Caltabiano has personally lent the center $20,000 — until it receives Marshall’s secured funding from last year — seniors, like one who goes by the name of “Joe,” gave the center $5,000 and lent $30,000. The others also raised $11,000, thanks to Joe who matched the donations, Caltabiano said.

“That’s how much they want to keep the place running,” she said.

Ulrich said he would try and pull through for the center again this year.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Every year, we seem to be in the same predicament,” he said. “The Forest Park Senior Center does a wonderful job of providing services to the senior population in Woodhaven and Forest Park. I’ll do everything I can to fight and keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Caltabiano said she and the seniors can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m hoping for another miracle. I’m hoping for Christmas in June,” she said.