Founding the club was a dream come true for 32-year-old Emanuil Kalendarev, the organization’s president.
“Our mission is to cater to the most vulnerable people in our communities and offer them a place where they can feel comfortable, receive socialization, and offer physical activities to help prolong their lives,” he said. “If people utilize the social adult daycare more often, we could potentially save the state a lot of money in the long run since we are more cost effective than a hospital or nursing home.
“When you leave your parents alone, what are they doing?” Kalendarev added. “If they aren’t active, they get sick faster.”
Inside, paintings by members sit on easels and hand on walls, while seniors play pool, chess, or ping-pong in the lounge. An ornate ballroom provides space for dance and music performances.
The organization has approximately 12 employees, or one for every six members.
“We provide our own transportation, social worker, two healthy meals, computer classes, and take members on field trips to local parks and museums,” Kalendarev said. “We also take them food shopping. If someone doesn’t know how to pay their cable bill or apply for a program, we can help them.”
The center also offers a large balcony.
“When the weather improves, we purchase what our members want to plant, whether it’s flowers or vegetables,” Kalendarev said. “They talk, smell the flowers, and show the garden to their families.”
When Kalendarev became vice president of the adjacent synagogue, Ohel Joseph & Brukho Toxsur Rego Park Center, a food pantry was established.
“A lot of elderly people have their only meal through us,” he said. “People from the outside who are not part of our center are also more than welcome to enjoy our food pantry and take something home for their family.”
Kalendarev shared the challenges that his family once faced.
“We came here in 1993 when I was five,” he said. “My parents ran away from the Soviet Union when it collapsed, and they have seen first-hand what it was to be living under a communist society where people had to stand on bread lines.”
Last June, Comptroller Scott Stringer presented Kalendarev with a commendation for his “years of devoted work to support hundreds of older New Yorkers.”
On November 15, a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the club by Assistant Chief Martin Morales for their support and contributions to Patrol Borough Queens North and the NYPD
“We are only as good to ourselves as we are to others,” Kalendarev said. “When you do good, good will always come back. It’s a great feeling when I come home and tell my kids, since we need to teach them from early on how to be a good person.
“Coming from different backgrounds and respecting and helping each other is what our country is all about,” he added.