Sunday, April 17, 2016

Creating a Senior Center

One thing you can count on in Hudson is, no matter what the issue, there will always be dissension. Often it's between the HBBs, who consider Hudson to be their birthright, and the newcomers, who have chosen, of all the cities and towns in the world, to make Hudson their home. Sometimes the fissure shifts a bit and becomes more cultural, as is the case with the latest contention over the Senior Center.

Amanda Henry, the Commissioner for the Aging appointed by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, has been working tirelessly to create a diverse and stimulating program worthy of the characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. For this, she has received raves and support from many Hudsonians but has managed, for various reasons, to rile the thirty-five or forty seniors who participate in the limited programming--yoga, aerobics, and bingo--now offered for seniors at the Youth Center. The situation grew worse when Mayor Hamilton determined that the frequency of bingo games played by seniors at the Youth Center put the City in violation of New York State Gaming Commission regulations.

On Wednesday, April 6, at the Common Council Youth & Aging Committee meeting, Henry outlined her plan to make the Senior Center, which has yet to open at the Galvan Armory, self-funding within two years. The plan, which involves hiring someone part time--20 hours a week--with "direct experience in running a senior center and the necessary computer skills to provide the metrics we need in order to apply for outside funding," requires an additional commitment from the City of $11,657.75. The resolution to appropriate the funds requested is expected to come before the Council on Tuesday, April 19.

Meanwhile, at the informal Common Council meeting on Monday, April 11, before the brouhaha over accepting or spurning a $10,000 donation from the Galvan Foundation got underway, Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) distributed to members of the Council and the audience copies of a letter from Kevin McDonald, administrator for the Columbia County Office for the Aging (OFA). The letter revealed that Miah and Supervisor Bill Hughes (Fourth Ward), who has asserted that the majority of Hudson seniors live in his and Miah's wards, met with McDonald the day after the Youth & Aging Committee meeting to discuss OFA establishing a meal site, sometimes called a "Food & Friendship Center," at the Hudson Senior Center. The letter outlines what OFA might offer:
The OFA could provide a meal program which would be open to all seniors age 60 and over free of cost. The OFA is mandated by NYSOFA to offer participants in all programs an opportunity to make a free-will donation. The meal program has a current suggested donation of $3 and participants are not denied services based on inability or unwillingness to make a contribution. Meals are nutritional and meet USDA recommended daily intake requirements. During the Summer/Fall, the OFA works with local farmers in a "Farm-to-Table" effort to provide locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
The letter also mentions a dietitian who can provide nutrition counseling and guest presentations on such topics as Aging with Low Vision, Medicare Savings Plan, Fall Prevention, and Flu Shot Clinic. The program, run by a site manager hired by OFA, would be available for four hours every day, Monday through Friday. The letter indicates that "the program allows participants to engage in their own activities such as playing cards and games, completing jigsaw puzzles, socializing and other similar activities." 

What would Evelyn Greenslade and Muriel Donnelly think of that?

Because a site manager for a meal program in Hudson was not included in the County budget for this year, hiring someone to fill the position would have to be approved by various committees of the Board of Supervisors as well as the full board. A contract between the City of Hudson and Columbia County would also need to be approved by the Common Council and the Board of Supervisors.


  1. Bingo is offered elsewhere. We should make every effort not to duplicate services and activities already available. Sedentary activities, like bingo or TV watching do little to enhance a healthy life. Here's to Amanda for seeking the best for seniors and not doing something "because we've always done it that way." Keep up the good work, Amanda.

    1. Maybe the Seniors liked it the way it was. At their age I think they can decide what they would like to do and not dictated too.

    2. Did you ever think that maybe the seniors liked it the way it was and would like a little say in what they want to do and not be dictated too. I think at their age they should be able to do what they enjoy to do

  2. Amanda Henry submitted the following comment:

    I find the timing of the presentation of the OFA proposal almost as interesting as anything it contains--essentially, a free meal and drop-in center with a daily caretaker for four hours.

    The City of Hudson did not need a brand new space if that's all they propose to offer. From the interest level and attendance at planning meetings for the new Galvan Community Center, there is clear support among Elders for broader programming opportunities that espouse life-long learning and community development. I hope constituents will make their feelings known to their Aldermen and that they will be heard.

    Amanda Henry

  3. Furgary was a self funded senior center where kids, parents and grandparents commingled, enjoying year round outdoor activities, weekly stone soups and unlimited access to the Lady Faithful.