Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WRBA Rallies For Endangered Senior Center

This Friday at noon was supposed to be a time of celebration for the CCNS Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center. After months of renovations to its building, the senior center will hold its grand reopening on Friday. But the celebration promises to be short-lived: The senior center is on the chopping block, facing closure within weeks because New York State budget cuts will eliminate its funding.

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association calls on all residents to meet at the senior center this Friday at noon to show support for the area's seniors and to object to the budget cuts that will leave many in our neighborhood with nowhere to go.

The senior center is located at 78-15 Jamaica Avenue, and shares a building with the struggling Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

"The senior center is a home away from home for so many people," said WRBA Director Roger Hennin, who is also a member of the senior center. "These cuts are terrible. When this center closes, it will really hurt a lot of people's quality of life."

WRBA President Edward K. Wendell agreed. "For many seniors, these centers provide a hot meal and a break from loneliness. In the summer, they double as cooling centers, providing a respite from the heat," he said.

In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget, approximately $25 million in Title XX funding for city senior centers is being eliminated. Without this state funding, New York City will close 105 senior centers -- including the CCNS Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center -- as soon as April 1. With over 40% of New York City's centers closing, more than 8,000 seniors will suffer.

"It's a shame because once again, they play these games at budget time and use our seniors as pawns," said State Assemblyman Mike Miller, who represents Woodhaven. "It's $25 million that our mayor can't find, even though he has a $3 billion surplus this year."

The possibility of closing the CCNS Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center in order to save taxpayer money is an ironic one, since over $25,000 in taxpayer money was recently spent to renovate and reopen the center.

Just last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration shut down 29 senior centers. Last year's closures, however, illustrate why Woodhaven residents must mobilize: The Bloomberg Administration initially planned to close many more, but public opposition to the closures helped save about two dozen centers.

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735