The Secaucus Senior Center will host a grand re-opening on May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in a recently renovated space. The re-opening is part of a series of activities for Senior Citizen Month, which has a calendar full of social events including a Health Fair on May 12, the Memorial Day Parade on May 19, and an ongoing set of weekly activities including yoga, fitness classes, Wii bowling, and the ever popular bingo.
“It will provide a wealth of knowledge,” said Lisa Snedeker, director of Senior and Social Services, about the May 10 event. Representatives from a number of local and county departments and agencies will be on hand with information about senior identification cards, fraud alerts, voter registration, and local programs. Seniors can tour the recently redesigned spaces and learn more about upcoming events and programs and obtain information on a variety of topics, including state health insurance benefit plans, Medicare, Medicaid, resources for people with disabilities, and how to avoid local fraud and insurance scams.
“Marvelous job.” – Eileen Skop
The Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center will provide medical screenings and details about their senior services.
Better bingo board
As part of the renovation, the bingo room received new lighting and a fresh coat of paint.
“A little bit of paint goes a long way,” said Snedeker. Many seniors gather on a regular basis to play bingo and socialize. The center has birthday bingo at the end of each month when everyone gathers to sing “Happy Birthday,” and eat birthday cake according to Public Information Officer Judy Kennelly.
During the summer the center has ice cream socials every Friday and during the winter holidays elves and Santa serenade the seniors with holiday song and cheer.
“I’m here all the time,” said Marie DeMartine during a game of bingo. She is a lifelong resident. “When you get to this age you have to socialize.” DeMartine, who celebrates her 90th birthday in two months, said that she loves the renovations to the space. She plays bingo twice a week.
“It is very nice…Everyone enjoys it here.”
“It helps us get out,” said Mary Bildstein, another lifelong resident, who sat alongside DeMartine playing bingo.
Other bingo players like Marie Cupuano agreed. She was part of a group of former Jersey City residents that included Eileen Skop and Filomena DiPillo.
Skop, 82, began going to the Senior Center when she moved to town nine years ago.
“Marvelous job,” she said about the renovations.
“There is a big difference,” said Maryann Formisano. She works as an administrative assistant at the center. Formisano said that the center has transformed since she first began working there 12 years ago. She handles bookings for trips and functions among other duties. Over time she has seen many seniors come and go, but said that the center retains a family-like atmosphere.
“I know them all,” said Formisano. “Many don’t have anyone at home.”
The renovations also include new windowed office spaces that provide staff with a view of the lounge and bingo room. Seniors also have increased access to staff.
“We put the glass in to be more involved with the seniors,” said Snedeker. The furniture in the office space was donated. The current lounge will be converted into an activity room for yoga classes. Snedeker hopes one day to offer cooking lessons as well. The former banquet room will be the new lounge for Wii bowling as well as other activities.
Two years ago the town added new flat screen televisions and leather couches.
Snedeker will move her office from Town Hall to the Senior Center once the next phase of the renovation project has been completed. She anticipates she will move in July. She said that she is currently available 24 hours a day and has taken calls at night to respond to people in need.
“We truly listen to them,” said Snedeker.
Community development block grants
The enhancements to the center represent Phase 1 of a larger project to update the entire building at a projected cost of $132,000. The first phase of the renovation cost $42,000, of which $38,000 was covered by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The CDBG program provides federal funds administered by the county for a wide range of community development needs. The town recently found out that it was awarded a CDBG to cover the remaining $90,000 left on the redesign, according to Town Administrator David Drumeler.
Drumeler said that the goal of the renovations is to update all the rooms “that are a little long in the tooth and provide “features to make the whole building a little more pleasing.”
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.