This hits close to home, as Woodhaven’s only senior center would be devastated by the cuts and could be forced to cease operations.
As a result, seniors from the Catholic Charities Woodhaven/Richmond Hill Senior Center will be traveling to the steps of City Hall on Monday, March 13, for a 10 a.m. protest against the proposed cuts.
They will be joined by seniors from centers around the city in an effort to convince the governor to keep these vital programs alive.
“For a lot of our seniors, if they don't come here they won't get a hot meal,” says JoAnn Bartos, who regularly volunteers at the Woodhaven/Richmond Hill Senior Center at 89-02 91st Street.
“Without the center, our seniors would lose a significant amount of quality of life,” she adds. “By coming here, they have friends, they have company, they aren’t sitting at home alone staring at the four walls.”
There are certain priorities that should never be cut, and spending on senior programs is one of them. In fact, the spending on this program should be increased.
We have only one center in Woodhaven and an aging population that could easily support more.
"I am opposed to any cuts to senior programs,” says Assemblyman Mike Miller, vowing to fight for the seniors and against these budget cuts. “You cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. Shifting money in the budget doesn't address the needs of our seniors.”
The budget cuts were proposed just days after Cuomo declared New York an age-friendly state. However, it doesn’t seem very age-friendly to deprive several thousand seniors of valuable local services.
In addition to the cuts to the senior centers, Cuomo is also cutting nearly $12 million from the state Office for the Aging’s budget. This would drastically impact those who depend on services that deliver meals to homes and provide home health care.
In short, these cuts devastate our seniors at a point in their lives where many of them have little to no other alternatives. Age-friendly indeed!
If you have ever visited our local senior center, you’ll realize just how vital these services are to the well-being of our community. There are games and activities and day trips and a host of other good reasons for seniors to join.
But most of all, it’s a service that encourages our seniors to get out of the house and remain engaged with the world at large.
And the staff at the Woodhaven center, both the volunteers and those from Catholic Charities, are there to help the seniors with any problems they might have, both big and small.
“I am often a guest of the senior centers in my district,” says Miller. “I speak to the seniors about community events and happenings, these centers are where they congregate. They are for many the highlight of their day. Can we really be that callous to take that away from our seniors?"
JoAnn Bartos is confident that this is a fight that we will win.
“A lot of the seniors from the Woodhaven center are going to City Hall to make sure our voice is heard,” she says.
Woodhaven is a very diverse community with people from different countries, of different faiths and different cultures, but there is one thing that every single one of us has in common. None of us are getting any younger and one day we will all be the seniors in need of a helping hand.
If we lose these services now, we will never get them back. In other words, we are all seniors and it is in all of our best interests to join this fight.
If you can’t make it to City Hall to fight for our seniors, you can still help by taking a few moments to either call or write Governor Cuomo to complain. Call (518) 474-8390 and let him know that no cuts to funding for seniors are acceptable.
You can also write the governor c/o NYS State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12224.
This is a fight we can’t afford to lose. If you have questions for our local senior center, call them at (718) 847-9200. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.