Caring for Our Older Neighbors

November 11, 2011

Above: The Jewish Community Council of Great Coney Island's Medicare Part D Center  

Caring for Our Older Neighbors

With over 300,000 of our residents now over age 65, Brooklyn is home to a senior community rapidly on the rise—which means more of our neighbors will be facing the challenges of aging in a time when government funding for programs and services is increasingly unsteady.

While private support from foundations like ours can’t cover the entire costs of operating senior centers and providing in-home services, it can still make a critical difference. Particularly at this time of year for the 25% of Brooklyn seniors who live below the poverty line.

An Early Holiday Gift

To help us do more for Brooklyn, this week Time Warner Cable donated $10,000 to our Caring Neighbors Fund. The gift, made possible through the encouragement of New York State Assemblyman Jim Brennan (pictured below with Assemblywoman Joan Millman), will bolster two programs that address concerns of seniors, such as social isolation, deteriorating health, and maintaining safe, stable home environments:

The New York Memory Center, based in Park Slope, is a leading Brooklyn agency dedicated to helping older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. With the new funding, they will be able to purchase a new software program to enhance and streamline internal operations.

Selfhelp Community Services is a citywide organization dedicated to enabling the elderly to live in their own homes, independently, and with dignity. The funds will help expand their Kensington office’s Chore Services program, which provides free housecleaning to frail, low-income seniors.

“We are fortunate to have an excellent network of service providers to seniors, but their resources have been eroded by public sector cutbacks, the weakened economy, and an ever growing demand for services. Our Caring Neighbors Fund is a way for the entire community—from individual Brooklynites to large companies like Time Warner Cable—to pool private resources to help sustain essential services for
Brooklyn’s most vulnerable residents.”

– Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber

Read more about the news
at Park Slope Patch

A Growing Need

Further south in Brooklyn, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island is addressing the needs of a neighborhood that is home to the highest concentration of seniors in New York City. Their Medicare Part D Center, founded in 2005, continues to help local residents navigate the opaque process of enrolling in Medicare prescription drug programs.

The city provided initial funding for the center to address what seemed like a short-term problem. “They anticipated that the situation would stabilize—but that did not happen,” says Rabbi Moshe Wiener, executive director of JCCGCI. “Years later, there are still constant changes being made. The need, confusion, fear is just as serious as it was before.”

This year the program was in peril, but the Brooklyn Community Foundation stepped in with $25,000 from our Caring Neighbors Fund to help them continue their much-needed services.

The Center serves between 20 and 30 people weekly by appointment, including home visits to clients who can’t travel. The Center has doubled the number of people that they help since the program’s first full year in operation, yet the need continues to grow.

“We have frail elderly who are mostly of low income, who can barely afford their rent, clothing and medical care,” says Rabbi Wiener. “The Brooklyn Community Foundation is making a transformational difference in the health and welfare of hundreds of seniors.” Learn more about the work of JCCGI

*This story was adapted from an article in our upcoming print and online Holiday 2011 Newsletter. Stay tuned!

What's Happening Across Brooklyn
Here are a few highlights of news and events we’ve shared with our followers this week.Don’t miss a thing! Like us at and follow us at

BLDG 92 Opens
For the first time, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is opening its gates to visitors to tell the story of the historic shipbuilding yard-turned-industrial park. The Brooklyn Community Foundation was the first foundation to support the new center, which is home to a series of exhibition galleries as well as a new job training program. Free to the public every Wednesday through Sunday. Details at

Veterans Fair at Borough Hall on 11/15
As part of American Veterans Month, Services for the Under Served (SUS) will be hosting a Veteran Service Fair on Tuesday, November 15th from 11am–4pm at Brooklyn Borough Hall. If you are an employer or service provider, register today to be a part of this important event:

Creative Arts and Respite Program for Children with Autism
Mercy Home for Children, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit specializing in programs and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, announces openings in the Creative Arts and Respite Programs for children ages 4-16 diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The free program is available on Saturday’s from 9am-3pm. For information or to download an application visit the website at or call 718-832-1075.