“We miss our center.”
This was the refrain of the many seniors who are now bused – some miles away – to receive the services, nourishment and interaction they have come to depend on.
Following the closure of senior centers throughout the city – Wakefield among them — free shuttle service is being provided.
In the case of the Wakefield members, they meet at the old center, at 135-45 Lefferts Boulevard, are bused to the sister center in Ozone Park, and then return to Wakefield before going home.
The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) confirmed this.
“We work closely with Catholic Charities to ensure seniors are transported safely from Wakefield to the Ozone Park Senior Center,” said Jeanette Reed, DFTA spokesperson. “There is a set pickup schedule in the mornings and afternoons that was established at seniors’ request (9:30, 10, 10:45 and in the afternoon 1:30, 2:15 and 2:45). Pickup times have been adjusted in the past to accommodate the needs of those attending the center.”
“Now we have to travel,” said one senior on Friday, November 5. “With the winter it’s going to be hard.”
Despite the efforts of State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Michele Titus, who held a rally outside Wakefield on June 11, the center nonetheless closed at the end of that month.
“Wakefield, like many other senior centers, offers its members free programs and services that, among other things, help them comprehend legal documents and lead successful independent lives. This center serves as a lifeline for thousands of seniors and lets them stay in their community and homes they’ve invested in for years,” Titus said at the time.
Addabbo said that there is a need for even more senior centers as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 projects a 44 percent increase in New Yorkers over age 65 in the next 20 years.
“Seniors who saw no increase in their Social Security and who are so concerned about the future of their health care programs are now facing locked doors on their local centers,” Addabbo said. “I don’t believe this is any way to treat our seniors. For as the senior population is increasing, our city wants to decrease their centers. That’s a wrong formula.”
Still, some seniors are thankful for what centers remain.
“It’s better than not having it at all,” said one.
Bused seniors fear winter weather
“We miss our center.”