As this year’s hurricane season starts, the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA) distributed 200 hurricane preparedness packages to seniors at the Brookdale Village Older Adult Center in Far Rockaway on Aug. 3.
A group of JASA members and volunteers from a corporate sponsor filled each package with items such as first aid kits (with bandaids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, bandages, thermometers, cortisone cream, shears, tweezers, etc.) Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, flashlights, batteries, and zip lock bags.
“Historically, we have been involved in helping people prepare for weather-related emergencies,” said Danielle Palmisano, co-chief program officer, JASA. “Knowing that hurricane season is coming, it’s timely for us to have packages ready so people can be aware and prepared in the event of a rough hurricane season this year.”
Founded in 1968, JASA is one of New York’s largest and most trusted non-profit agencies serving seniors in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.
JASA operates affordable housing properties, is a licensed home care agency, and offers free legal services, health, and mental health services, home-delivered meals, social programming at senior centers, caregiver assistance, and much more.
JASA has established four older adult centers in Queens, with three locations in Far Rockaway.
When Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Rockaway peninsula in October 2012, the Brookdale Village Older Adult Center, located at 131 Beach 19th St., was fortunate in only sustaining wind damage and minor water in the elevator pits.
According to Donald Manning, executive director of Real Estate at JASA, the most challenging part was when the utility company shut down the building’s system so it didn’t become inundated with water.
“We did prepare and evacuate a lot of tenants to shelters and their family members,” Manning said. “With the power off at the time, we only had a generator for two of the five buildings on the campus. Since then, we have thankfully received funds from the government and different sources to install generators in all buildings on the campus.”
Prior to Superstorm Sandy, and even today, Manning said they’re learning more on how to be better prepared for another potential storm, relying on booklets and guidelines they have received from the city.
“We distribute the booklets to tenants reminding them what flood zone they’re in, and making sure they have their medications and emergency contact information when the call comes through to evacuate,” Manning said. “A lot of folks who evacuated originally didn’t have their medication and that was sad. We are able to work with local physicians and pharmacies to get what they need, and you don’t think of that when you’re running out of your apartment.”
Over the years, JASA has helped people develop a grab-and-go packet in the case of an emergency.
According to Palmisano, JASA’s social workers’ regular assessment involves preparation, making sure seniors, especially those who are homebound, have the items they need.
“People are very appreciative. A lot of the people we work with are very isolated in the community. For example, with COVID, they were not able to go to stores. We appreciate our staff being able to step in and take mobile orders for people and go to the pharmacy to get help,” Palmisano said.
According to Palmisano, having simple items provided in the hurricane preparedness kit makes a tremendous difference in someone’s life, helping to keep them safe and the community to have the support they need.
“It was really great to have a for-profit and nonprofit come together to spend time at an event to help very low and low-income elderly, and many who are frail. We really do appreciate the items provided and we would appreciate more opportunities like this to work with for-profits in New York City,” Manning said.