Why did the seniors cross the road? Because a bunch of whippersnappers moved their wellness program to another building.
Elderly residents of Trump Village are urging a local senior support organization to reverse a recent split in its programing they say cuts them off from some of its services.
The Jewish Association Serving the Aging — an organization providing healthcare, wellness, and social programing for the elderly in Sheepshead Bay — split its services between two buildings at the Trump Village apartment complex back in July, forcing participants to cross a busy thoroughfare to reach the services they’ve come to depend on.
Local seniors were never keen on the move, but the approach of winter — and the snow and icy sidewalks it brings — has prompted worries that many of them might be cut off entirely. So dozens of program participants demonstrated on Oct. 16, demanding the association bring full programing back to their building before winter.
The demonstrators — toting handmade signs and pictures of their beloved staff they say were fired or demoted after the reorganization of the program — want to bring the 14-year-old program back into their building before the first snowfall.
One protester said the division of the programing will make it impossible for residents from their building — Trump Village section four — to receive some services.
“The seniors can’t walk across the street in cold weather,” said Sandy Malachowsky. “They can’t walk back and forth with walkers and wheelchairs to go back and forth.”
The association previously operated two separate programs in sections three and four of Trump Village which both offered a full slate of services within both buildings. But when the association merged the two programs in July, it decided to consolidate different services in one or the other buildings — effectively splitting its programming between the two sections of Trump Village, so seniors now have to journey to the other program office to access all services.
The association says it maintains so-call core services — meaning medical and social services — at both sites, and only recreational programing differs.
“The way it is all structured now is that both sites are going to have the same core services,” said Alla Pliss, the Brooklyn District Director of the association.
Pliss suggested that the hike between buildings isn’t a burden to the seniors the group serves, and that the changes should increase program attendance.
“The difference instead of going down the stairs is going across the street,” she said. “It might be a little more steps, but they’ll have more people who will take them.”
Sha also said that if anybody needs assistance making the trek, volunteers or staff members can escort them or arrange transportation.
“We are always working to ensure that the concerns of our most frail and vulnerable community members are addressed and this includes attention to their transportation needs,” said Pliss.
But the protest organizer said the program consolidation has reduced the quality of service.
“JASA, without our knowledge, merged the program and gave us no options,” said Gloria Hacken, a local activist from section four. “We had a very successful program — they merged us with a very unsuccessful program.”
Hacken said she has contacted nearly every local elected official and has received little help — but she vows to keep fighting to restore the original section four program.
“I started off with the councilman, I went to the mayor’s office, I went to the governor,” said Hacken. “I don’t want to see it destroyed — that is why I’m frustrated. Too many people need it.”
Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay) agrees with Hacken.
“I need to do everything possible to help the seniors,” said Deutsch. “We need to make their lives easier, not more difficult.”
Deutsch said he has met with the commissioner of the Department of Aging, but there has been no resolution as yet.
“It is like everything else — we need to continue fighting,” he said.