Flushing senior center receives prestigious award for efforts in emergency preparedness

Photo courtesy of New York City Emergency Management

City officials recognized a Flushing senior center on Thursday for its ongoing commitment to preparing older adults for emergencies. 

Selfhelp Innovative Senior Center Director Mayer Waxman was presented with this year’s Senior Center of the Year Award by the New York City Emergency Management and Department for the Aging (DFTA). Following the presentation was a discussion on the importance of emergency preparedness for all New Yorkers, including older adults. 

(Photo courtesy of NYC Emergency Management)

“Mr. Waxman and the Selfhelp Innovative Senior Center staff work year-round to ensure their seniors are prepared for any emergency,” said Deanne Criswell, New York City Emergency commissioner. “Through partnerships with the NYC Department for the Aging, NYC Emergency Management will continue to spread the message of preparedness to seniors throughout the five boroughs.”

The Selfhelp Innovative Senior Center, located at 45-33 Kissena Blvd., provides daily services and programs to more than 400 older adults including fitness, art, dance and music classes. As part of the program, members received emergency preparedness presentations and were reminded to pack a Go-Bag with basic supplies, medical information, and contact names and numbers. 

Waxman and the staff at the senior center showed dedication to emergency preparedness by coordinating multilingual, interactive, educational workshops for seniors. Additionally, the center has developed a strong relationship with the local fire department and with the NYPD’s 109th Precinct, both of which conduct regular safety presentations for seniors. During heat emergencies, the senior center also serves as one of the city’s more than 500 cooling centers activated to help New Yorkers beat the heat. 

Councilman Peter Koo and State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic congratulated the senior center on its prestigious award for working to better address emergencies encountered by their clients. 

“For years, Flushing’s Selfhelp Innovative Senior Center has served as a de facto town hall for our community,” Koo said. “Known locally as Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center, Selfhelp has long served as a focal point of our neighborhood by capably serving our senior population with everything from educational workshops to entertainment to social services and more. I offer my sincerest congratulations to Selfhelp’s seniors and management, including program director Jane Qiu and CEO Stuart Kaplan.” 

State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic noted that the center’s recognition is a testament to the community Selfhelp has built and its mission to ensure no one is turned away from having access to a safe space and quality care.

“Flushing is fortunate to be home to the Selfhelp Innovative Senior Center and the dedicated staff and volunteers delivering vital social services from health and wellness programs to educational workshops,” Rozic said. 

The center also received congratulatory remarks from Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

This year, NYC Emergency Management’s Ready New York program has hosted more than 70 presentations for older adults and trained more than 5,800 older New Yorkers in preparedness. The agency has also distributed more than 350,000 “My Emergency Plan” workbooks to New Yorkers, that guides users through establishing a support network, capturing important health information, evacuation planning and gathering emergency supplies. 

First responders or caregivers can also use the workbook to help people during an emergency. “The Ready New York: My Emergency Plan” is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, French, Polish, Urdu and Yiddish.