SNAP program serves seniors in Glen Oaks

By Adam Kramer

Just off Hillside Avenue and tucked away in the southern half of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in the second largest building on Creedmoor's grounds sits Services Now for Adult Persons, a senior center catering to residents of northern Queens.

SNAP, founded in 1979, was housed in St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Floral Park and the Queens Reformed Church in Queens Village until last March when the program was transferred to the Creedmoor space with the help of local politicians and the city Department of Aging

“We need to continue to serve people who need us the most, the people who do not have all the options,” said Dr. Linda Leest, executive director of SNAP. “We help people, who without us here, would have no where else to go.”

She said with so many people living well into their 80s and 90s, the social and educational options presented to them continue to diminish. SNAP tries to pick up the slack by providing a social environment where seniors can take classes, go to dances and participate in activities geared to invigorate the elderly.

SNAP is a senior citizens' day center, which provides services to the aged living in the area that stretches from Glen Oaks to Bayside and from Queens Village to Douglaston. The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Senior citizens can drive to SNAP and park on the Creedmoor grounds if they have transportation, but if they have no way to get to SNAP, the center will shuttle seniors back and forth from their homes.

“Our program is more than arts and crafts, but if that is all someone can do, it is still interactive and they are talking to people and not just watching TV,” Leest said. “Doctors have proven that people you care about and choose to interact with keep you healthy. Interacting with your peers is an important thing.”

Leest said the move to the new building has been a godsend. The program used to be separated between two different sites and in one room space where SNAP could only have one activity going on at a time.

The new building, its walls lined with its clients' art work and photos of events such as Halloween and beach parties, has a dining room where the clients can eat lunch for a minimal donation and play cards. In addition, the program now has a library, crafts room, boutique, computer room and poolroom, albeit without a table.

“The new building is better for us. It has been a tremendous enhancement to be here,” Leest said. “The site has not been detrimental in anyway. It is a beautiful building, airy and clean and redone by the Department of Aging.”

Some of the services SNAP provides are 150 home-delivered meals seven days a week; transportation to doctors, hospitals, supermarkets, malls and senior centers; a telephone reassurance program, where volunteers will call SNAP clients who are sick to see if everything is all right; personal case management; and trips to museums, Atlantic City and Broadway.

“It is a wonderful thing SNAP does, picking up seniors who need to go to the doctor,” said Sam Schustal of Bellerose. “They are so accommodating picking you up and doing everything. We really appreciate it. They know the problems of the senior who does not have transport.”

Sal Marullo, a former semi-professional soccer player from the Queens Village/Bellerose area, said he loves SNAP because the administration's programs keep the clientele active. According to Marullo being active at his age is the way to stay healthy.

Loretta Butler said she and her friend Marie Bigansky go to SNAP a couple of times a week. “It is important because we love to dance,” she said. “We really are recycled teenagers.”

Leest said SNAP's next goal is to take over the second and third floor of their building and convert them into one-bedroom apartments for middle-income seniors.

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