The City of Schenectady has opened its first senior center since the closure of its former location more than a decade ago. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard was at the grand opening on Thursday.
Bernadine Mastroianni had been looking forward to the opening of a senior center in the City of Schenectady for years.
“Ever since Annie Schaffer closed, yes,” said Mastroianni. “It would be good to have some place to go and play cards and do things.”
The Annie Schaffer Senior Center of Schenectady County on Nott Terrace closed in 2004 due to financial troubles. When it shut down, the city of more than 64,000 residents was left without a senior center. Residents had to travel to neighboring communities for daytime activities or community meetings.
On November 16th, seniors gathered at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall on upper State Street, where the city is partnering with assisted living facility Kingsway Community to host the Schenectady’s new senior center at the hall.
City councilor Ed Kosiur celebrated the grand opening.
“We’re open to any senior located anywhere in the City of Schenectady, county or even in our neighboring counties. Open every Tuesday and Thursday 10 am to 2 p.m. and it’s absolutely free. There’s no charge, there’s no membership, and that’s what we’re looking for. Just for people to come down,” said Kosiur.
The city is supporting the senior center through $40,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.
Senior center program manager SusanBeth Olsen said program suggestions have already started coming in from the community.
“It’s pretty fantastic. I think it’s very well received. The residents that are coming into the community right now are very excited about it. They have a lot of suggestions,” said Olsen.
State Senator James Tedisco was one of a handful of ‘celebrity waiters’ serving Thanksgiving dinners. Giving his best Billy Crystal impression, Tedisco said he would look for ways to support the center through state funding in the future.
“We’re gonna pledge to make this one a long-term facility. And I told them, it’s been a lot of years, but really, ‘they look marvelous.’”
Other lawmakers on hand included state Assemblymembers Phil Steck and Angelo Santabarbara.