Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00
Doubleday Babcock Senior Center is going through a mid-life crisis: it is changing its name to the Life Enrichment Center and is broadening its scope. It is remaining the same, with daytime services for seniors; as well as the DayBreak Program for frail and handicapped seniors [and others]; but they are adding an “After Hours” program for ages 50+.
The change is the result of a study initiated by the EGC group as part of the national pro bono CreateAthon effort that began in 2001 and includes over 60 advertising agencies nationwide. They dedicated 24 straight hours in September to help create a marketing program for DBSC. EGC’s CEO is Oyster Bay resident Ernie Canadeo and EGC Account Executive Len Rothberg is an OB Rotarian who promotes the Oyster Festival, said Gail Speranza, executive director of the Life Enrichment Center formerly known as the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center.
“They sent a creative team during the CreateAthon to find a way to better explain what we do in the community. We received a brochure and got radio advertising time too, all as part of the project,” she said. “EGC has been in business for 25 years and were voted best LI Advertising Agency by LI Business News for two years in a row,” she said.
“I’m finishing my fifth year as director. I was originally in the program office and got a feeling for this place and knew Barbara [Hadel, DBSC executive director] very well. It was obvious she was looking for a replacement after 29 years with DBSC. I was interested and thought about what I would do as director. I’d make changes, not that something was broken, but I do like change.
“Well, I got the job and over those five years, no matter where I go, it is so difficult for people to understand what we do here. We really do save lives. It’s a remarkable place.”
Additionally there is a problem with funding the center in today’s economy. “Funding is disappearing. The federal government says it’s not going to have funding down the road for Nassau County discretionary funds,” she said. “I’m a very big advocate for the aging. I testify for the aging and I see there is no answer. Grants are not there for the aging. That is why this community is so wonderful – it is so supportive. Tom Reardon [longtime DBSC board member] said this community will always remember the seniors.”
Ms. Speranza is an advocate on aging and a member of the Senior Service Providers Coalition. The Coalition was established in 2000 to advocate for the rapidly expanding senior population in Nassau County. The organizations represented in the Coalition serve the largest senior constituencies in Nassau County and include The Life Enrichment Center [DBSC], Catholic Charities, EAC, Family and Children’s Association, the Glen Cove Senior Center, JASA, Nassau-Suffolk Law Services and Peninsula Counseling [which serves Alzheimer’s and Dementia]. The coalition was instrumental in the creation of the Committee on Aging within the Nassau County Legislature.
“The members with the largest constituencies are Glen Cove and us, DBSC with 1,700 members,” she said.
Ms. Speranza said she, Ernie Canadeo and Len Rothberg did a presentation that won them the CreateAthon fund campaign. “It is a full fledged advertising campaign.” They won and were assigned a creative team to work with them on changes to find a new image to market to sponsors.
“We were all in agreement that we did not want to alienate our older seniors but want to target the Baby Boomers and that is how they came up with a new name for us, and a new program. It’s officially The Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay and we are having a new program. We are now open until nine every night: an after hours program. There will be a grand opening on Feb. 1,” said Ms. Speranza.
She explained that they have been offering continuing education classes twice a year, in the fall and spring. “We saw a need for more. The exercise people wanted to extend the classes beyond the eight weeks in the fall and spring.”
She said they were looking forward to what might happen in the evening offerings. “Maybe the Baby Boomers who play an instrument might want to begin a band,” she said.
The new brochure states: “The new After Hours Program offers evening activities for people age 50+. Our programs encompass health & wellness, learning, entertainment, and overall fun in a socially engaging setting. Enjoy new interests and connect with new friends as you join us for the time of your life!”
Ms. Speranza said, “We can offer career planning; life coaching; wine tastings. Presently we are offering in January: Zumba, Yoga, and strength training classes. Coming soon are More Yoga, More Zumba; Pilates; and Sculpting. We are additionally considering dance programs: swing, ballroom dancing; salsa; hustle. We will have singles and couples nights like speed dating; dance mixers; game nights; and cooking classes.”
Getting the message out includes a mailing to members of the new brochure produced by ECG with the courses listed. They also designed the new sign for the building and created a radio campaign.
The next step is to inform the community of the change. Ms. Speranza has been meeting with the membership assuring them that nothing will change. “It’s the same meals, transportation and the Day Break program too. There are no real changes – we just keep getting better,” she said. The change is in the third program, the After Hours program.
“We are also opening Angela’s Café, named after Angela Koenig,” said Ms. Speranza. Angela Koenig was the DBSC board president who guided the move from Christ Church to the building of the DBSC Center with Barbara Hadel at her side.
The center will now be open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. “I’ve hired new staff members. There will be a membership fee of $99 for the AfterHours program plus a fee for each eight-week class which will be given throughout the year. The DayBreak program is fee based. It is just the day program for seniors for which we receive government funding, and is therefor free.
“People are fearful that it will make changes to the day program, but it won’t. Many people say [of DBSC] ‘this program saves my life. I would be home and depressed without it.’ They need have no fear that there will be a charge for those day programs.
“It’s all very exciting. I have to say, Fritz Coudert [former DBSC board president] was a supporter of this idea. It was just that we weren’t ready for it when he first proposed it. We are ready now,” she said. “Things change, and now, five years later – the time is now.”
“I am very proud of this and I am proud that I am here to launch this at the unveiling on Feb. 1 and the new programs to be launched on Feb. 7.
“The programs are being planned. It takes time to set up the instruction. Joanne Dadio is the program coordinator of the new After Hours program. She was the special events coordinator for the last two and a half years. The committee members who worked so hard to put this all together are: Paul Rosen, board vice president; John Sant’angelo, Board Chairman Richard Longworth and myself.” The mission statement of the center is: “We are a senior lifestyle organization enabling people over age 50 to age in place independently and receive continuous community-based services promoting a healthy mind and body.”
For more information call the center at 922-1770.