2005-11-30 / Seniors

SCS Senior Center Nears Completion, New Stage Of Expansion Starts

Sunnyside Community Services, which has just about completed a major expansion of its senior center in Sunnyside, is ready to move into Stage 2 of its expansion plan by renovating some 8,300 square feet of space left vacant as part of the senior center renovation.

It’s all part of creating more room and facilities to handle the center’s multifaceted work load, addressing the needs of seniors and youths and their parents, many of them immigrants.

The total cost of creating the new space approaches $3.5 million, including a $150,000 federal grant secured by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) recently to cover the Stage 2 improvements.

According to SCS Director Judith Zangwill, these will include:

•For the youths in the program, classrooms and meeting rooms for clubs, SAT and Regents prep, college and financial aid counseling, GED, job readiness training, a family computer room and a place for homework or reading.

•Expansion of office space for home care nurses and coordinators and a training center for home care workers.

•A community conference room for community board meetings and other community organizations, and

•Core management and support staff offices that will be expanded to reflect SCS’s growth and restructuring.

According to Zangwill and Sue Fox, the organization’s associate executive director for development, the new senior center will open at the end of next month. For many years, SCS has been located at 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside.

The agency has grown by leaps and bounds during the past 16 years that it has been operating at the 39th Street location. In 1990, for example, it served about 1,000 elderly from Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, but that number has swelled to 5,000.

Also, in 1990 the center operated programs for about 300 children and teenagers. It now serves more than 2,500 in this age group.

Third, in 1990 some 740 frail, homebound seniors were served by SCS. Now, the center provides home care and case management services for more than 2,900, elderly area residents.

SCS faced a daunting task in handling its expanded senior and youth activities. The new senior center and other expansions addressed those problems by creating the space not only to handle the expanded programs, but also office space for the many additional workers handling all phases of the operation.

To this point, almost two-thirds of the project’s cost has been raised. The City Council provided a $1.77 million capital grant to renovate new space on the ground floor of the building SCS occupies for the senior center; the Mayor’s office helped the organization to obtain an additional $315,000 for the new senior center; Congressmembers Maloney and Joseph Crowley have been helpful, as have been local state Assembly and senate and City Council representatives. Also, United Way of New York City made a large grant, as did several foundations, and SCS seniors themselves made contributions. In short, SCS got help from many friends.

BUDGET CUTS HIT BOTH WAYS: The House of Representatives cut billions of dollars from Medicaid and other social service programs in a recent vote, but authorized increased home heating assistance for the poor, which will aid in their coping with the winter cold and rising fuel prices.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley blasted the action. “Republicans are taking food from the mouths of children to put money in those pockets,” he declared after the GOP approved a $57 billion tax cut for upper-income taxpayers.

The House bill, which would save $50 billion over five years, reduces Medicaid by $11.4 billion, including $1.6 billion from New York State—which lost more money than any other state. Some seniors would find getting assistance for nursing home care more difficult. Other cuts include $796 million from the Food Stamp program, $143 million from student loans and $4.9 million from child support enforcement.

On the plus side, the bill adds $1 billion for home energy assistance. New York will receive more money than any other state.

The House actions are different than those the Senate has in mind, so there will probably be changes after the Senate votes for its version. The two houses will need to reconcile their bills.

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