For up-to-date information about senior citizen programs and services in Manhasset, especially today when almost all organizations face cutbacks, it's important to get involved and keep in touch. Although Manhasset does not have its own "bricks and mortar" senior center, residents are welcome at the centers in Great Neck and Port Washington, though they must provide their own transportation-and a wide variety of programs are available through the Manhasset Public Library and local clubs, which are closer to home. Manhasset's seniors "center" on the friendships and community these programs create.
Many Manhasset residents enjoy the Great Neck Senior Center. Phoebe Lazarus, Ed. D., president, welcomes friends from Manhasset for a wide variety of social, intellectual and physical programs-from knitting to creative writing, from hot lunch at the center to museum trips. She proudly notes that the center will be the focal point of Great Neck's upcoming roll-out of Project Independence, the Town of North Hempstead's innovative program. As an example of the extent to which Great Neck and Manhasset senior citizens are aligned, she notes that Janet de Winter, well-known Manhasset resident, was past president, has been extremely active, and remains on the board. Unfortunately, Ms. Lazarus explains, transportation to the center is not now available to new members from Manhasset.
Great Neck Senior Community Service Center, 80 Grace Avenue, Great Neck, (516) 487-0025
The Port Washington Senior Center also welcomes Manhasset residents, explains Delores Holliday, executive director. Participants can choose from many fun programs, from yoga and line dancing to quilting to bridge. They also do all their cooking onsite, she explains, so the center "feels and smells like home." Another good source for information about senior services, Ms. Holliday explains, is the Nassau County Help-Line, (516) 227-8900. As with Great Neck, seniors need to find transportation from Manhasset to the center.
Port Washington Senior Center, 80 Manorhaven Blvd., Port Washington, (516) 883-6656
Manhasset residents looking for innovative programs right in Manhasset can find a variety of unique offerings at the Manhasset Public Library (MPL). "Manhasset seniors are lifelong learners," said Deborah Dellis-Quinn, program director. "Our seniors have varied interests as well as a wide age range-they are phenomenal, so engaged and active. Therefore," she explains, "there is a wide range of programs." Library programs are always popular, and now, as the economy has gotten tougher, participation is increasing. "Our 'Lunch & a Movie" on Mondays is a great way for people to connect," Dellis-Quinn said. "Participants bring their lunch, the Friends of the Library supplies coffee and cookies, and we have a big selection of movies. It's a nice way to socialize without spending any money."
The programs span the gamut, music performances and art history presentations to exercise classes. "And many seniors head to the library to read newspapers and magazines-they find a comfortable chair and catch up on the news, while saving at the same time. Similarly, our videos and audio recordings are popular," the program director added, "we have a mix of some great old shows as well as newer programs."
"The library is wonderful!" exclaims Vivien Gurfein, Manhasset, who is very involved in the cultural programs and trips. "There is always something exciting going on!"
Olive Reimers, also from Manhasset, agrees, "The trips are excellent! Perfect! I go on them all the time."
Some in Manhasset have begun giving the trips as holiday gifts, because they are guaranteed to be enjoyable.
Other popular MPL programs include memoir writing and news discussion groups, run by Fred Chernow, author of The Sharper Mind - Mental Games for a Keen Mind and a Foolproof Memory. Mr. Chernow, a former professor of psychology whose special focus is how people remember and forget, has developed a series of programs, from simple strategies to help improve memory to "Brainfood-Eating Smart for Better Memory" and "Growing Old with Grace and Guts."
"We all lead interesting lives!" he exclaims. "And I think that we have an obligation to leave a record of our experiences-whether for our families or our communities. Today's seniors experienced the Great Depression; they can tell their families what it was like to get a TV for the first time." Thus, one of Mr. Chernow's popular programs at the Manhasset Public Library is How to Write Your Memoirs. "Right now, we have about 28 participants--some read their work at the sessions--and one, age 92, is publishing his work."
"Manhasset truly is a community of people who enjoy learning," he says, "and so we make our programs fun and interactive. There is a wide age range," he points out, "from new retirees-in their late 50s and early 60s-on up." Mr. Chernow estimates that he's "filled about 9,000 seats in the library" over the past 10 years.
To keep abreast of offerings, seniors should stop at the library and pick up newsletters and calendars, Ms. Dellis-Quinn advises. She encourages everyone to find out all that the library offers. She can be reached at (516) 627-2300.
Two long-standing clubs for seniors provide ongoing fun and friendship. Phyllis Becker is the director of the Active Seniors of Manhasset, Inc.-a group of about 20-25 (predominantly) women who meet Tuesday afternoons, September to June, for socializing. "We enjoy cards, bingo, other activities, cake and coffee. And lunch at a local restaurant about once a month. For some, this is their only chance to get out each week," Ms. Becker explains. "The members love coming here--although it would be great if Manhasset had a center so they could meet more frequently."
They meet on Tuesdays, from noon to 3 p.m., (except during the summer) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. New members are always welcome; please call (516) 365-8329. "There are also a number of women's clubs; many women enjoy the clubs right in their village or neighborhood, or their places of worship," Phyllis Becker explained.
Bettie Randolph, who heads up Manhasset's Thursday Adult Drop-In Center, also welcomes new friends. "We have a lot of fun!" she exclaims. The lively group enjoys lunch, conversation and cards, and other activities, Thursday, 12 to 3 p.m., at the Manhasset Valley Residence, 155 East Shore Road. "And about once a month," Randolph added, "we take a shopping expedition." For further information, call Bettie Randolph at 627-2339.
(Transportation to Manhasset senior clubs and food shopping is provided by the Town of North Hempstead; call 311 for more information and an application.)
Many of the men of Manhasset (and surrounding areas) enjoy the Men's Club, which has been in existence for more than 65 years. They have a variety of exciting speakers on politics, economics and finance, medical and legal matters, and senior concerns. Established in 1943, the club meets twice a month, first and third Thursday, at 11:45 a.m. at the Congregational Church. "A first-timer's lunch is free," explains Frank Dotzler, president, and he encourages new members to come. For further information, call (516) 627-9191.
For some, the senior center is Town Hall-that is, the wide range of information available from the town's offices and "311" information hotline and website.
The town can provide information on services and programs such as:
- Assistance Programs
- Educational/Cultural Resources
- Food Programs
- Health Services and Referrals
- Hospital/Police Departments
- Housing Information
- Property Tax Reduction/Exemption
- Senior Citizen ID Card
- Senior Clubs and Centers
- Town Events
- Transportation Information
- Volunteer/Employment Programs
- Web Sites For Seniors
The town has made a significant effort to "connect to constituents," Supervisor Jon Kaiman explained earlier this year, and the 311 hotline (or 869-6311) is a key achievement. Information is available about: immunization programs; socialization programs, such as the summer-long "Funday Mondays" at North Hempstead Beach Park; Senior Citizen Recognition Day in May; free transportation to shopping trips and senior clubs in town, etc.
Town of North Hempstead webpage: http://www.northhempstead.com/content/4296/4381/5708/default.aspx
The cornerstone of the town's evolving senior program is Project Independence, for residents 60 and over and their families. As Supervisor Kaiman explains in a program brochure, the major goal is to "empower residents so they can remain in their homes if they choose as they grow older." Services are tailored to meet the needs of each community and can include: "partnerships with local hospitals to offer health screening and immunizations; case management and counseling and support from social service agencies; social and recreational programs," and more. The program was piloted in New Hyde Park, and is expected to next roll out in Great Neck. Community input is a critical element of the program, so seniors are encouraged to call 311 with questions or comments.
One of the many benefits of becoming a senior is qualifying for various discount cards and programs. For example, Nassau County residents 60 years and older can obtain a permanent Senior Citizen Leisure Pass that permits free entrance to all Nassau County parks and senior citizen programs. Also, many restaurants offer special prices to holders of the Leisure Pass. The passes are available at Christopher Morley Park, (516) 571-8113. The Town of North Hempstead Senior Citizen Card enables holders to take advantage of various discounts, including half-fare on MTA Long Island buses; the age requirement is 60. While the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) benefits are available at age 50, and Project Independence is designed for residents 60 and older, for some federal government programs, the key age is 65. It is always important ask about the age requirement.
Computer classes can help seniors explore many great sites, and enable friends and family to stay in touch. Once you can search "senior resources" online, you can spend hours...days...weeks learning more. Along with the library and senior centers, the Manhasset Adult & Continuing Education Program can help with computer classes, as well as courses on a wide range of topics. (631) 881-9670.
Networking is helpful to discover new opportunities to put skills and experience to work, paid or otherwise. The Manhasset public library offers free career counseling. For volunteer projects, two good sources are:
Long Island Volunteer Center (516) 564-5482
Manhasset Community Fund (516) 627-3850.
North Shore Animal League America's "Seniors for Seniors" program enables senior citizens to adopt senior dogs without adoption fees. A variety of other benefits are provided, such as free annual vaccinations, two free wellness exams and two free groomings per year. The organization, headquartered in Port Washington, says that adoption process typically takes around two hours. The Seniors for Seniors number is (516) 883-7900, ext. 838.
(Editor's Note: Because there are so many programs and services available to Manhasset seniors, it is impossible to compile all of them in one spot. And information changes all the time. This article is just a sampler. If you would like to provide more information please let us know. And apologies if you've been unintentionally omitted from this initial piece.)
Every Wednesday Joseph Tuzza drives to the Port Washington Senior Center for a serious bridge game, where he is always scorekeeper. He keeps busy doing many different things--he visits the Manhasset Public Library for books each week and, in better weather, he loves to garden.
In January he celebrated his 100th birthday with his friends at the Senior Center.
The secret to his longevity? "Good genes and good living" he explains. "I've always eaten well. No junk food, never smoked. No drinking -- perhaps just a glass of wine with dinner. I lead a peaceful, quiet life." A former teacher in Forest Hills, Queens, Mr. Tuzza has made Manhasset home for 45 years.
During a recent round of keen Pokeno competition-at 8 cents a hand-the lively participants at 155 East Shore Road shared a lot of laughs--and some recipes.
"Ask Tina for her soup recipe," Director Bettie Randolph exclaimed. "That's where we found out about Mustgo soup."
"Yeah, people love it," Bettie laughed. "Tell her, Tina."
"Mustgo soup--oh, it's simple--you have an onion, it must go in it. You have celery-it must go in it. You take just about everything you have in your refrigerator-it must go in it! Put it all in...It'll be delicious!"
The Manhasset Press took a very informal survey of the Men's Club in February, to get the male perspective on Manhasset services, and found that:
*Members enjoy the Men's Club a great deal, and also tap other outlets to meet with friends, such as golf, restaurants, American Legion, worship groups, the Manhasset Public Library, special interest clubs and charitable organizations.
*There is an interest in bridge and bowling games being held in Manhasset, as well as a desire for more health information.
*Taxes remain a concern.
*There is significant interest in a Manhasset Senior Center. Few of those surveyed attend the centers in Port Washington or Great Neck.