Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Center Option for Displaced Woodhaven Seniors is in the Works by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

Read original...

WOODHAVEN seniors, tired of being bused to a center in Richmond Hill, may get a break under a plan being brokered by Borough President Helen Marshall.

Marshall wants to see the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps building on Jamaica Ave. used for some senior services.

In return, the cash-strapped ambulance corps would get some funds to keep its operations running.

"It's really enticing," Marshall said. "It's a great location."

Marshall's aides are setting up a meeting between the city Department for the Aging, Catholic Charities and the ambulance corps.

Catholic Charities runs the seniors' program, which used to operate out of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. When the church reclaimed the space, Catholic Charities offered local seniors bus service to another program in Richmond Hill.

"A lot of them are not going. They are staying home, and that's a shame," said Maria Thomson of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. "They really loved having a center closer to home."

Kathy Sexton-Dalbey, an emergency medical technician who is chief operating officer of the corps, said her group would be happy to host seniors in its building.

"Many of them work as poll workers on Election Day," she said. "They always come in here and talk to us. This is a good spot for them."

The volunteer ambulance corps building is at 78-18 Jamaica Ave., in the middle of the bustling shopping strip. The back room holds between 75 and 100 people. The driveway can accommodate Access-A-Ride buses and other vehicles.

But the structure needs some renovations, including work to make it accessible for people with disabilities. Marshall seemed confident that some government grant or other funds could be freed up to pay for the work.

The volunteer ambulance corps has been suffering from a shortage of donations and grants. If its headquarters is used for senior programs, the group will get a regular rent check.

City officials said the talks are still in the preliminary stage. But Marshall's spokesman, Dan Andrews, was hopeful.

"Everyone wants this to happen," he said.