Seniors in Philipstown were delighted this past Monday by an early delivery of Christmas gifts from the parishioners of Our Lady of Loretto Church in Cold Spring, NY to the Senior Friendship Center at Philipstown. Santa Claus size sacks of goodies including Christmas cards with gift cards inside, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, toiletries, home office supplies, puzzles and games were unloaded by the Church’s Youth Group and other adult volunteers and put on display in the Center’s Crafts Room for the senior to come in and choose from. Lucia Grandetti, Coordinator of Religious Education, explained that the parishioners of Our Lady of Loretto Church decided to dedicate the gifts from this year’s annual Advent Giving Tree to the seniors of the community and they were extraordinarily generous in their giving. Not only were seniors who attend the Friendship Center able to enjoy this generosity, but the OSR staff also prepared gift packages for homebound seniors sent along with their home-delivered meals.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, was joined by county Legislators, state lawmakers, members of her administration and county employees for the grand opening of the fully renovated and expanded senior citizens center in Carmel.
The Carmel Friendship Center, housed in the Donald B. Smith Government Campus on Old Route 6, opened Thursday, Dec. 19 after an 18-month renovation.
“This facility was once a school and now it’s a senior center, the circle of life,” County Executive Odell said to the dozens of seniors who attended. “The challenges of the structure took us a little longer than anticipated. As a school, the building had narrow hallways and small classrooms. We knew that you guys wanted some space, you wanted to walk in comfort and be able to enjoy each other’s company while doing yoga, tai chi or shooting some pool, whatever you really want to do. Now you have the space to do it. “
The bright and airy 6,000 square foot Friendship Center now includes a restaurant-sized dining room where more than 100 seniors can be comfortably served, an exercise room for yoga, tai chi and Zumba dancing, a game room with a billiard table, and a cozy sitting area where seniors can relax around a gas fireplace. A nutrition office, Medicare counselor and case worker will also be on site.
Before the renovation, the building housed a smaller senior center and several administrative offices. During the renovation, the senior citizens center was housed at the Knights of Columbus in Carmel.
“This was very high on my priority list when I took office and I know that my fellow legislators feel the same way,” Odell said. “We recognize and appreciate our seniors. They are our teachers, they’re our mentors, they’re our grandparents and they’re our neighbors. You guys are important to this county for everything that you’ve done and everything you continue to do with your volunteering. It was very important that we build you a space that you could appreciate and that you wanted to come to.”
Michael Cunningham, Director of the Office for Senior Resources, noted that this was a big year for the office.
“We celebrated our 50th anniversary this year,” he said. “We also opened up, just before the year began, our Friendship Center in Philipstown. And now we are here to celebrate the opening of the Carmel Friendship Center.
“One of the worst things for seniors is isolation or loneliness,” Cunningham said. “What we are trying to do is make sure that by offering these services, with good nutrition and a lot of activities, we prevent that. If you look at the name of this facility, we call it the Carmel Friendship Center and that’s what we’re all about.”
August 1st marked the 70th birthday for OSR Driver Jim Servello. Since June of 2016, Jim has driven the seniors of the Cold Spring/Philipstown area of Putnam County to the senior center and has delivered meals to those who are homebound. He celebrated his birthday at the new Friendship Center in Philipstown with staff and the seniors at the center. One of the center’s centenarian, Rosina Parcesepe, sang to Jim the HAPPY BIRTHDAY song in Italian. Join us in wishing Jim a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY with many more to come.
On July 15th, family, friends, elected officials and employees celebrated with Jenny Pope at the Putnam Valley Senior Center. Senator Sue Serino, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, OSR Director Michael Cunningham, Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio and Councilwoman Jackie Annabi along with family and friends shared this very special milestone with Jenny with many wonderful things to say. Jenny is RSVP’s oldest, active volunteer and has been going to the senior center for 20 years.
This very special RSVP volunteer is our oldest, active volunteer. Jenny Pope will be 100 years old on July 14, 2019. She was born in Puerto Rico on July 14, 1919, and she moved to New York at the age of 19. For many years she worked as a women’s clothes maker with the International Garment Ladies Union. After her retirement, she was a caregiver for several of her friends.
Now widowed, she has 4 children, 7 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. Jenny is a devout Catholic and has volunteered her services to her church for many years.
How gentle each day becomes when the kindness of Jenny touches your life. She brings forth a precious gift of love to everyone she meets. Jenny has been going to the Putnam Valley Senior Center for 20 years. She sets all
the dining tables in the building; a job she takes very seriously. For 20 years, she has never missed a day! Jenny helps to make the Putnam Valley Friendship Center a happy place with the friendships she has formed over the years with the other seniors. If you were to ask Jenny what the secret to her long life is, she would tell you that she has never gossiped or said a bad word about anyone, and that she prays every day.
Jenny Pope, you are one of a kind and we are all better people for having you in our lives! Happy 100th Birthday and thank you for your many years of service! We wish you many more years of good health and happiness.
Since January, third graders at the Haldane Elementary School in Cold Spring, NY have been learning to write in cursive and what could be a better way to learn and hone a new skill than to practice by writing letters weekly to your pen pal! But you need a “pal” to “pen pal” with. Jenny Carpenter, a parent and local artist, stepped in to volunteer to coordinate the “Out of the Blue” program – encouraging friendships to be made and letters in blue envelopes to be received out of the blue. The experience of receiving and opening a letter from a friend surely warms the heart more than the annoying ping of a “got mail” alert on your smart phone. What was so special about this program is that the third graders of 2019 reached out to pal up with third graders from 1930 to 1960, the seniors of Cold Spring.
As the school year nears its end, and after many letters have changed hands, and writing skills have improved with cursives more legible (we hope!), the pen pals were united this past Wednesday, June 12, at Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources’ Friendship Center at Philipstown. The house was packed with 36 third graders and 55 seniors sharing tables, sharing stories, and more importantly sharing new friendships that span generations. It was impossible to measure who embraced the interaction more – the school kids or the seniors. The smiles on all faces were broad and the chatter loud; decibel levels this high had not been heard at the Friendship since the construction tools went quiet when the Center opened this past December.
The goals of both the Haldane School and the Friendship Center were met – to increase multi- generational social interaction and to enrich the lives of pen pals through the experience of writing to and receiving letters from a friend.
The winter storm of November 15, 2018 – November 16, 2018 has left the area with a mix of snow, sleet and rain. To ensure the safety of our seniors County Executive MaryEllen Odell has closed all Office for Senior Resources’s senior activities including Senior Nutrition Programs. “We were able to deliver emergency food supplies to our home-bound seniors prior to the start of the storm. This will help our seniors that would normally receive a healthy meal from the County to stay home where it is safe and still receive a nourishing meal”, said County Executive Odell.
In addition to the Senior Programs being canceled, our public transportation system is on Snow Routes starting at 8:00 AM. All ParaTransit and Veteran’s Transports have been suspended. Pre-K/EI Transportation to schools in Putnam and Westchester Counties are not expected to operate as they are dependent on the schools schedule. All other Government Office are open on a normal schedule.
Longtime Mahopac resident Tom Honohan will pull up stakes later this summer to move to Wappingers in Dutchess County, leaving behind a legacy of service and volunteerism.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Honohan said. “I have a lot of friends here, but I can still come to visit them. [The move] is a little bittersweet.”
One thing Honohan looks forward to with the move is condo living—no more backbreaking outdoor chores.
“They do all the work for you,” he laughed. “No more shoveling sidewalks or mowing lawns.”
Honohan and his wife moved to Mahopac in 1979. He had grown up in the Parkchester area of the Bronx and remembers a happy childhood there.
“There were lots of playgrounds; it was a great place to grow up,” he said. “The rents were unbelievable, which was great for the parents.”
He went to high school at Manhattan Prep (part of Manhattan College) and then to Notre Dame University where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and liberal arts.
His first job out of college was with Westinghouse Electric.
“My whole career was in sales—industrial field sales. I had a series of assignments that kept me in the New York area,” he recalled.
Then he received a job offer from General Electric of England (no relation to the American GE), which had its headquarters in Elmsford in Westchester County. He was living on Long Island at the time, so he began looking for a new home to better his commute.
“Mahopac was about a half an hour away [from Elmsford],” he said. “It happened to work out because we had friends there and we found a piece of property with lots of woods.”
Honohan was introduced to community volunteerism through his children and their interest in sports. He has four kids—two are now teachers, one a computer programmer and the other a mechanical engineer. He also boasts nine grandchildren.
“My son got involved in soccer when we were still on Long Island and I knew nothing about it,” he said. “So, I volunteered to coach and I studied it and got heavily involved. All my kids got involved in sports. So, when we moved to Mahopac, I brought that knowledge with me.”
Honohan got involved with the Mahopac Sports Association (MSA) to help get them more organized and he ran the soccer program for about two years. His work with the MSA led him indirectly to the library.
“When I was coaching, the guy who was helping had a wife on the library board and they were going through some renovation programs,” he said. “They were doing some relatively large renovations—lots of electrical work and I had some expertise in that area and felt I could help them with that. I was eventually appointed to the board and within two years I was president.”
Honohan was part of the board that oversaw the construction of the new library building, which was completed in 2002.
“I was involved with most of the process,” he said. “There are always a number of people who, no matter what, will say no. But people voted on it and said yes and we have always prided ourselves on that.”
Honohan said the nature of libraries has changed dramatically since he first joined the board of trustees.
“My motto is that the library ain’t just books anymore,” he said. “There are so many other things.”
Honohan cited the BAMM concerts, children and teen programs, blood drives and the Third Floor Gallery as just some examples of what the library provides to the community. He also noted that the staff has expertise on computers and other technology that they’ll share with the public.
“We have PCs, tablets, laptops,” he said. “Bring it in and people will answer your questions.”
Honohan said his wife once exhibited her artwork at the library’s art gallery and the space has been evolving ever since.
“We have fined tuned it over time,” he said. “We have a committee to make sure the exhibit is representable.”
Honohan has also been a volunteer for Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources by driving seniors and veterans to doctors’ appointments and other activities.
“Putnam County has superb services for seniors and I found out they have a program where you drive to the county center and use a county car to visit older seniors,” he said. “Some are vets and there are some who just can’t drive anymore; I drive them to doctors’ appointments or to veteran facilities like Castle Point.
I found that to be a very rewarding thing for me,” he continued. “Instead of trying to solve their problems, I just listen and let them vent. I think that’s the medicine they need. I think it’s great that the county can do this. I felt it was spiritually uplifting and found it kind of rewarding.”
But now, Honohan says it is time to move in another direction and find some new challenges.
“It’s been 25 years now and a lot has happened,” he said. “I feel the need to do something else. I need to devote my volunteer life in another direction.”
And after signing the papers for his new home in Wappingers, he said he’s finally ready for that maintenance-free lifestyle.
“The pen is mightier than the lawnmower,” he chuckled.
OSR Director, Michael Cunningham, was in Albany on February 6th for the Statewide Legislative Conference and Advocacy Day. This is a yearly event that has all of the members of the Area Association on Aging meeting in Albany to share their State budget positions with Legislators and to discuss community based services for older New Yorkers. Director Cunningham met individually with Senator Sue Serino, Senator Terrence Murphy, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne to discuss the needs of Putnam County’s seniors as well as the programs and services offered to our senior population. While meeting with Assemblyman Byrne, Director Cunningham was invited to join him on the Assembly Chamber Floor. Here is a quote from Assemblyman Kevin Byrne that was posted on his Facebook page:
“Yesterday, I was honored to meet with senior advocates from county agencies, Aging-NY and LiveOn NY in our Albany office. We had a very informative discussion covering various concerns in the Governor’s executive budget proposal. Afterwards, I escorted Michael Cunningham, our newest director of the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, down to the Assembly Chamber Floor and formally introduced him to Albany. Thank you for all you and your colleagues do to ensure our seniors have access to the services they deserve.”
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is supporting Director of the Office for Senior Resources, Michael Cunningham, and the Putnam County Senior Citizens Advisory Board as they seek nominations for this year’s SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD.
“We are fortunate to have a very active senior population,” said Odell. “Selecting one man and one woman from among so many seniors who do so much to make a difference and enhance the lives of Putnam residents will be an exciting challenge.”
This year’s nominating theme is “ENGAGE AT EVERY AGE.”
Candidates must be 60 years of age or older and residents of Putnam County.
Two seniors from each of New York’s counties will be honored at a luncheon on
May 22nd in Albany. Putnam’s winners will also be honored at the annual
Putnam County Senior Volunteer Ceremony this spring.
Nominations should be made on an official form which can be obtained from the
Office for Senior Resources or downloaded from their website: https://www.putnamcountyny.com/osr.
Completed nomination forms must be received by Friday, March 2, 2018. Forms may be mailed to: Senior Award, Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, 110 Old Rt. 6, Building No. 1, Carmel, NY 10512 or faxed to (845) 808-1942 or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees of federal, state, county, or local municipalities who provide services to senior citizens are not eligible to be nominated. Previous recipients of this award are also ineligible.
For more information or to request a nomination form, please call the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources at (845) 808-1700.
The Office for Senior Resources Director, Patricia Sheehy, went to Albany today to give testimony at the New York State Elder Abuse Prevention Public Hearing. As part of the Coalition Panel, Director Sheehy presented testimony and answered questions along with Anne Marie Cook from LifeSpan and Andrea Cianfrani, Esq. Deputy Director of Public Policy from LiveOn. The purpose of today’s hearing was “to identify best practices relating to elder abuse education and prevention; to evaluate the effectiveness of existing systems for preventing and responding to elder abuse; and to identify system gaps and explore possible remedies.” Senator Sue Serino, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Aging and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Aging heard testimony from many experts and leaders of organizations in this day long hearing to be able to determine what resources are available to protect the health and safety of our State’s seniors and evaluate the effectiveness of our current system with the ultimate goal being to identify additional means to protect our seniors from abuse so that they may enjoy their golden years free from harm and remain safe from abuse.