Residents upset over closing of Bay Ridge senior center

May 4, 2012 4:40:09 AM PDT
Some seniors in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, are upset over the closing of the St. John's Senior Center. The program is shutting down after losing critical city funding.

The city's Department of the Aging has strict guidelines for senior centers, and when those guidelines are not met, funding is taken away. St. John's center is on the smaller side and has had difficulty working within it's budget, so they've been told to shut down.

The senior center at St. John's Episcopal Church has been serving the elderly for the past 35 years. Up until mid April, they served daily hot lunches and provided activities like a walking club, yoga and bingo. But the program has exhausted its budget, so closing in inevitable.

"Terrible," senior Frank Giordano said. "We won't have a place to go anymore. It's a very nice place. The people are nice. We're going to miss it."

"This is more of a family environment," activity director Rosemarie Stern said. "It's a warm environment, and that's what they love about the center...It's a beautiful place to be every day. It enlightens their life."

The St. John's center was recently rated as poor by the city due to finances and programming. The church is a tiny parish that has provided its hall for their activities, but unfortunately, the church can't fund the program on its own.

"With the loss of the Department for the Aging funding, if we were to pick up the same regime of programs and services that was offered here before, the church, its doors itself, would close in a matter of weeks," Rev. David Sibley said.

The church is willing to open its doors to seniors on Wednesdays until they can find somewhere else to go.

The city is trying to modernize its entire senior center network, and they say that some programs are more responsive to change than others. They say St. John's has not been as responsive as they would have liked. They also point out that there are two other centers, the Fort Hamilton and Bay Ridge senior centers, nearby.

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