On The Record
by Adrian Carrasquillo
Sep 23, 2009 | 15845 views | 0 0 comments | 428 428 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the Glenridge senior center, volunteers line up to help the elderly. The surprising part is that these volunteers are not much younger than the members of the center.

“Most volunteers are seniors,” said Albert Juszczak, executive director of the center. “They volunteer during the day. Their life experiences are a definite plus.”

Juszczak worked in real estate before working at the Greenpoint senior center. He was then asked to make the jump to Glenridge. Juszczak proudly lists the programs and services offered at his senior center.

“We provide lunch seven days a week along with wellness, aerobics, yoga, eldercise, and seminars and lectures,” he said.

Juszczak notes that for many members, the senior center is all they have.

“The kids are grown up and they move away, a spouse dies, and suddenly they’re all alone,” he said. “We provide companionship, medical activities, and specialists. We want to be a social net, safety net, and health net.

Juszczak hopes to be able to offer breakfast everyday but for now the senior center is beginning to offer breakfast twice a week. Juszczak is proud that a recent renovation has been completed. “We have a big screen projector. We’re going to be screening movies for the members,” he said.

But Juszczak become most impassioned when explaining his philosophy behind the interaction of young and old through volunteering.

“It’s a two-way bridge,” he said. “Seniors become energized when young people are around. The youth brings them up to date on what’s going on. And the youth can learn a lot from seniors and their life experiences.”

Juszczak thinks that communities are much more “diffuse” than they used to be.

“Local parishes used to be the magnet for the area,” he said. “Now I think senior centers should play a larger role in the community. People want a place to call their own.”

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