Red Hook East Houses residents Gertrude “Trudie” Holzendorf, 94, and Candida Delgado, 88 had been anxiously waiting for this moment for five years. On December 15, they got a sneak peek at the new Red Hook Senior Center; the former center had been destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. The Center officially opened for programming in January.
Ms. Delgado has lived at Red Hook Houses for 63 years and raised seven children there. Her excitement was contagious. “I’m very happy that this new center is open,” she said. “Now, I’m alive and well. I was worrying and worrying because Sandy took our center away. I come every day. There’s nobody in my house but here at the center I have a lot of friends. We come to talk and gossip.”
Ms. Holzendorf, a 32-year Red Hook resident, said, “It’s beautiful, it’s convenient. I will come every day that it’s open, for breakfast, for lunch. This is my second home.”
The original center was located in a basement that flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Seniors were given temporary space in the Joseph Miccio Cornerstone Community Center, but they needed and wanted a space of their own.
The new center, located outside of the flood zone, was built with $5.7 million in funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), New York City Council, and federal funding—including $1.8 million from City Council Member Carlos Menchaca and $1 million from Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. The building, vacant for several years, received a top-to-bottom renovation: new roof, heating and ventilation systems, insulated concrete slab floors, kitchen equipment, bathroom refurbishments, fixtures, plumbing, electrical, walls and flooring, doors and hardware. Red Hook seniors provided design input; the new center also features an exercise room, sewing and dominos room, and computer lab.
“Seniors make up one fifth of NYCHA’s residents, and well over a third of our households are headed by people age 62 or older. Many of our seniors have lived in their homes for decades and are anchors of their communities, providing wisdom, support, and continuity to younger families, said NYCHA Chair & CEO Shola Olatoye. “I am very proud that this new center will serve more than 1,100 seniors.”
Lisette Sosa-Dickson, Executive Director of The Spanish Speaking Elderly Council-RAICES, which operates the center, added that the center provides older adults in the community with a dedicated space to receive vital support services and programs as well as exercise, breakfast and lunch, and most importantly, companionship.
Attendees at the opening also included Congresswoman Velazquez, New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Council Member Menchaca, Assistant Speaker of the State Assembly Felix Ortiz, and Commissioner for Department for the Aging Donna Corrado. Frances Brown, RA
President of Red Hook Houses East and Lillie Marshall, RA President of Red Hook Houses West, also spoke.