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The Senior Center Celebrates Its One-Year Anniversary
By Vangie Hayes

There are lots of advantages to being a senior citizen today, not the least of which is being allowed to join Lenox Hill Senior Center of East Midtown Manhattan, located at Saint Peter's Church. I'd been thinking of signing up for some time and, as luck would have it, I decided to register on September 9, the very day it was celebrating its first anniversary. I soon found out why over 1,000 people have joined the Center in its first year of operation.

I entered a huge room, bright, beautiful and filled with engaging displays representative of the works and activities of the members. Among them were examples of lovely knitting, advanced crocheting, drawings and paintings, as well as exhibits offering the opportunity to learn Spanish or the art of playing chess, or to learn more about current events.

The celebratory luncheon included an entrée, several vegetables/side dishes and a delicious dessert, all in substantial portions. When I asked how much this would cost, one of my tablemates said a contribution of $1 was suggested. Quite a bargain! I glanced at the future menus and saw mouth-watering items such as tarragon chicken, Salisbury steak and fish fillet. It's no wonder they attract approximately 120 people each weekday and close to 150 on Saturdays.

After lunch, Fredericka Mabon, director of the Center, told of their activities and philosophy. She especially praised the staff, which consists primarily of business people who donate their time. Most of the teachers are volunteer experts in their fields, as are the volunteers studying medicine at NYU and Fordham. Others who spoke and praised the Center's contributions to the community included Edwin Méndez-Santiago, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, Assemblyman John Ravitz; and the Honorable Andrew Eristoff.

But the most enthusiastic praise came from the members themselves. They were pleased to talk about the wide range and quality of the activities the Center offered: martial arts, Tai Chi, yoga, classical and jazz concerts, monthly visits by lecturers from the Whitney or MOM Museums, counseling services and bridge, to name just a few.

In July, the Turtle Bay Association gave the Center a grant of $1,000 in response to its request for assistance. The Center has grown much faster than anyone anticipated, but in the current economic environment funds for increasing staff were virtually nonexistent. The TBA grant was designed as a stipend to assist the Center in keeping an excellent welfare-to-work employee on staff after his training period ended and until permanent funding could be arranged, a move which would be considered a win on many fronts.

The Lenox Hill Senior Center at Saint Peter's Church is located at 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street) and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. Lunch is served at 12 noon. If you have questions about the Center and its activities, contact Ms. Mabon or the Assistant Director of the Center, Stephanie Prince at (212) 935-2200, extension 382. Anyone living in the five boroughs may join, but you must be at least 60 years of age. You youngsters will just have to wait your turn!

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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