NEW YORK—Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced his allocation of $2.6 million to the senior center expansion and renovation at the Sunnyside Community Services in Queens on Aug. 30.
“Every single year we come through for Sunnyside Community Services because this is the place where our seniors are taken care of and there’s nothing more important than taking care of our senior citizens,” Van Bramer said.
The center services around 1,700 home-care clients and provides seniors with a range of services and activities, including adult day care and case management. But, most importantly, it’s a meeting space for the local seniors.
“In many cases these programs make it possible for families to avoid the pain and expense of placing their loved ones in a nursing home,” said Sunnyside Community Services Director Judy Zangwill.
The money will be used to make the second floor of the center much more welcoming and open. Sometime next year the renovation will begin by first knocking down some of the walls and expanding the space. The long and winding corridor that leads to the adult day care will be removed and the day care will be relocated closer to the elevators to make it more accessible. In addition, workstations for the 22 case management workers will be upgraded.
Steve Behmoiras, a senior who’s been attending the center for over three years said that he’s been in the community for around 40 years and that his friends recommended the center to him.
“[The center] probably extended my life 10 to 15 years,” Behmoiras said. “It’s like my second family.”
During his emotional speech, Behmoiras thanked Van Bramer, his close friend, for everything he’s done for the seniors.
“We couldn’t ask for a better place than Sunnyside Community Center,” another senior, Ann Horata, said.
She then reminded everyone that it was Van Bramer’s birthday on Aug. 19 and had everyone sing “Happy Birthday” to the councilman while he blew out the candle on a cupcake.
Sunnyside was established as a senior center almost 40 years ago, and has since grown to include 120 full time staff, 100 seasonal workers, and 2,000 home care workers.