Opinion

In 2006, my wife and I proudly bought our first home here in Levittown. Our search for the right house had been a long one: not only did we need to find a residence with enough room for ourselves and our toddling twin boys to grow; we also needed to find one that would accommodate my mother.

When we finally found the right house, one of the first things we did was to seek out the local Senior Center. We were directed by our new neighbors to the Yours Ours Mine Community Center up the road from us on Center Lane.

Needless to say, Mom was ecstatic - she had been concerned that by moving, she would no longer have a recreational facility to enjoy. Fortunately the YOM offered a daily Senior Club, provided transportation and even lunches.

Before we knew it, two and a half years had gone by, with Mom going to 'club' every Tuesday and Thursday. She made new friends, participated in the activities, and was happier than I've seen her in quite some time.

That is, until just a few weeks ago when she and her fellow Senior Center members received devastating news: due to budget cuts, the YOM was facing the threat of being closed down. Senior citizens and their families were encouraged to write letters to various Nassau County officials, asking for any kind of intervention or assistance. Those cries apparently fell upon deaf ears as Mom and her friends were just informed that the Senior Center program abruptly ended yesterday.

No one is naive here - we all recognize that all across this country, families, businesses and organizations are facing the crunch of the floundering economy. Belts have to be tightened, sacrifices made.

The YOM has been providing services to the community for over 40 years. Seniors, young children and families struggling with chemical dependencies have benefited from the YOM's presence.

Losing the YOM is not an inconvenience - it is a cruel punishment.

Without this wonderful center, many of the seniors who counted on it as a lifeline to the world outside their homes will most likely become shut-ins - prisoners really - with no social interaction, no reward for the years of hard work and service they gave to their communities, their state and their country.

And make no mistake - with so little given back to the older members of our community, a place like YOM may very well seem like a reward to them.

From what I understand, ideas were tossed around to cut some of the benefits that the YOM's senior program had to offer, such as putting an end to the lunch offerings and terminating the bus service. Apparently, these ideas, and others, were not enough or came too late.

What makes this experience more frustrating was the lack of communication the seniors encountered with YOM operatives: One week they were told the center was closing, the next they were told it was being spared. Attempts to get anything out of anyone of authority there was met with resistance. At this point, I'm not sure anyone is fully aware of all the details and what exactly led to YOM being shuttered.

I implore you to explore this story - perhaps you will be able to trace the steps that led to YOM's demise. It would be wonderful if someone in the news media could impart the impact this loss will have on the various members of the community - and what, if anything, could have been done...or could still be done...to turn things around.

Tom LaSusa


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