Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Claire Coleman, 86, can’t imagine living anywhere except in her Massapequa Park home. In 1955 and after 7 years of marriage, Coleman and her husband saved nearly $13,000 so they could leave their “cold-water flat” in Brooklyn with their two children and buy a home in the suburbs. After the couple had three more children, Coleman’s husband suddenly passed away at age 56 in 1980.
Living alone for the past 16 years, Coleman recently had a few hospital stays for sepsis and heart problems and also suffers from spinal stenosis and sciatica. Although her son Dan is living with her temporarily, the only way that Coleman is still able to remain in the home she treasures instead of going to a residential facility is due to the Senior Dreams Come True program sponsored by Genser Dubow Genser & Cona (GDGC), an elder law firm in Melville.
Her daughter Mary Coleman Forrester, a registered nurse, submitted an essay explaining how her mother, who lives on a meager social security payment and small pension from the Diocese, desperately needs a wheelchair ramp so she can live at home yet not be imprisoned by the four walls. With the high costs of ramps, Claire couldn’t afford it.
GDGC and Senior Dreams Come True came to Coleman’s rescue. Melissa Negrin-Wiener, a partner at GDGC, interviewed several ramp companies and found Joseph Massaro, president of Affordable Portable Ramps in Bohemia. GDGC knew that Massaro would be perfect for this project; a carpenter for over 20 years, Massaro had a car accident in 1997 and was temporarily wheelchair bound. Because he needed a ramp for his wheelchair and couldn’t afford it, he decided to design and build the only wood modular ramp in the U.S. that can be installed on site. From this single ramp that he built by hand with a family member, Massaro now sells the product in five states.
“Ramps are critical for people with mobility issues so they are not confined to the home,” explains Negrin-Wiener. “Getting out in any capacity is very important for mental and physical health.” According to Massaro, ramps can keep people out of nursing homes and give them the freedom to enjoy the outside.
An active woman most of her life, Coleman worked at Macy’s at the Sunrise Mall until age 70. A few years later, she took another job at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa for 10 years until she retired at age 84. Her hobbies have always included gardening, crocheting and crewel work.
“We are thrilled to grant this wish that will make a tremendous difference in Claire’s life,” says Jennifer Cona, managing partner, Genser Dubow Genser & Cona. “By reaching out to colleagues, we have been able to secure donations of goods and services, which has allowed us to stretch our charitable dollars to help more seniors in need and expand the Senior Dreams Come True program,” said Cona.
“This generous gift from GDGC is a godsend,” said Coleman. “My wish is to be able to stay in my house for the rest of my life, and it seems like that will now come true.”
Applicants must be 65 or over with an income limit of no more than $1,500 a month for a single person and $2,000 a month for a married couple. Applicants are required to send a letter or statement under 750 words describing their wish and documenting how they have contributed to society in some way.
To obtain a “Wish Request” form and application, go to GDGC website at www.genserlaw.com or call Moriah Farrell at 631-390-5000 for more information.