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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice
The Peter Cardella Senior Center in Ridgewood is participating in the Single Stop pilot program, which helps seniors sign up for important benefits.

The seniors at the Peter Cardella Senior Citizen Center in Ridgewood can now receive help signing up for important benefit programs through a new pilot initiative called the Single Stop Program.

It aims to expand seniors’ access to and enrollment in benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), Extra Help, Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and more.

“It really is a good thing,” said Barbara Toscano, executive director for the Peter Cardella Senior Center. “I think we were picked because this community would have a high level of seniors that would need these programs.”

The Single Stop Program brings in knowledgeable staff members to the senior center once a week who will screen seniors for benefits, help maximize services for individuals, and provide individual assistance in applying for and securing the benefits needed. This is all done through the pilot program’s electronic enrollment system, which will help seniors navigate the many potential assistance opportunities.

“A person can come in to the senior center and want food stamps, and it goes through their computer system,” Toscano said. “It really is wonderful because a lot of times when you have all these forms and paperwork to fill out, it can take over a month and a half sometimes to enroll…the Single Stop Program is working really well here. It runs until November, but they might come back and do it again.”

Single Stop Program staff members will be able to provide follow-up services from their Single Stop sites where seniors can obtain additional services and follow up on issues related to their benefits applications and cases.

“It’s a really nice program. It’s really helpful for the seniors,” Toscano said. “We do all this here at the Peter Cardella Center, but it takes a long time. This gets back to them really quick. Food stamps are so important, especially for seniors. It’s really good for them. We are trying to get a lot of people enrolled and are trying to bring a lot of these benefits to the seniors here.”

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