Monday, July 6, 2009

Project FIND Aid for the Aged

One Thursday in mid-June, Global Action on Aging met with Debra Escort and David Gillcrist of Project FIND to learn more about their efforts to assist older persons in New York City. Project FIND Aid for the Aged, Inc. is committed to help older persons live active and independent lifestyles in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. With three housing residences and five senior centers, Project FIND ensures that older persons in New York can find housing, meals, social and physical activities that they otherwise would not normally have easy access to.

The Hamilton, The Hargrave, and The Woodstock are the three apartments that provide residents with on-site social workers who help facilitate tenant relations, hospital and nursing home admissions and discharges, and counseling. The demand for such housing is so great that the waitlist for The Hamilton alone is at least five years. Social workers in each residency facilitate communication between residents and programs such as Medicaid and Access a Ride and ensure that their needs are met accordingly. For those seniors who are still looking for a means to socialize and stay active, Project Find has five senior centers that are open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The senior centers are entirely free and are open to any adult over the age of 60, regardless of where they live or where they are from. At The Hamilton Senior Center, members can participate in belly dancing class, Tai Chi, Strength Training, Yoga, Computer Class, a Garden Club, Art, and Salsa to name a few. Residents and members range from healthy and active to homebound and homeless adults.

The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) retracted its plan to restructure Senior Centers, which has assuaged the fear that many centers throughout the city would close. Project FIND’s Executive Director, David Gillcrist emphasizes that affordable housing is one of the foremost issues older persons in New York City face. The lack of accessible senior housing, and relatively little funding from the state and federal governments, are underlining concerns that are further compounded by poverty in New York City. The senior centers at Project FIND help reduce the stress of these issues. They serve as a way to stretch budgets and ensure that what little funding is available is maximized for senior use. There is a true sense of community throughout the residencies and senior centers, which provide an appropriate social space for older persons who do not wish to feel stigma often associated with nursing homes and other senior centers. Volunteers derive from all ages and many are residents themselves who are giving back to the Project FIND community.

Thanks to Debra and David for taking the time to meet with Global Action on Aging and to inform us about Project FINDS’ initiatives. FIND Aid for the Aged Inc. can be reached at (212) 874-0300 and can be accessed online at

Below you can find video selections of classes offered at Project FIND's Senior Centers:

Ken Gray's Qi Gong class at Hamilton Senior Center; Tom Campo conducts a Yoga class Clinton Senior Center; Donatas Nacajus conducts a dance class for seniors teaching rumba, foxtrot and salsa at Project Find's Hamilton Senior Center in New York City.

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