Friday, July 8, 2016

Carter Burden Center For The Aging Takes Over Management Of Roosevelt Island Senior Center - Some Roosevelt Island Seniors Object To Smaller Fees For Instructors And Added Cost Of Art Supplies

Image Of Roosevelt Island Senior Center July 4 Celebration

As reported June 8:
The long time operator of the Roosevelt Island Senior Center was replaced this week by the NYC DFTA. Starting July 1, the Carter Burden Center For The Aging will operate the contract to provide Roosevelt Island Senior Services. No reason has been announced for replacing the Roosevelt Island Senior Center.
(DFTA is the NYC Department for the Aging).

Roosevelt Island resident Wendy Hersh posted on the Roosevelt Island Seniors Facebook page:
Welcome Carter Burden!!!!!!

The Carter Burden Center for the Aging (CBCA)will be the new agency running the Roosevelt Island Senior Center, They are dedicated to promoting the well-being of New Yorkers, aged sixty and over, through a full spectrum of services, advocacy and volunteer programs. Their organizational mission is to promote the safety and dignity of seniors and enriching the lives of those they serve.
CBCA Executive Director Bill Dionne attended the Roosevelt Island Senior Center July 4 Celebration Party. Mr. Dionne spoke to the approximately 75 seniors attending and said:
... I can't get over the level of volunteerism that takes place here.

But, it is important  to realize that the Department has empowered us to have the sponsorship of this program legally.

We are very excited to work hand and hand to build as well as we can going forward.

Its also very important  to realize with the Carter Burden Center, as with all of our Centers throughout the City, all of our programs are free of charge. You need to be a member of the Carter Burden Center. Everything that we do is free of charge. That is what the Older Americans Act requires and we stay very true to that mission.

We are so excited to be here....
Here's Mr. Dionne speaking:

Some Roosevelt Island Seniors have expressed concerns regarding the Carter Burden Center taking over management of the Senior Center.

Joan Markey expressed some of those concerns:
Carter Burden Center took over the Senior Center last Friday, July 1. It cut the pay of all the instructors to $30 a class. The instructors had been paid $40. Carter Burden is also refusing to pay the cost of art supplies for art classes as in the past.
The Seniors are worried that the lower fees will cause popular instructors to quit.  About 50 Seniors signed letter below asking the DFTA Commissioner and elected officials to choose a different sponsor for the Roosevelt Island Senior Center or to make sure CBCA enhances existing Senior programs.

I asked CBCA Executive Director Bill Dionne:
I am receiving emails from Roosevelt Island Seniors concerned that programs are being reduced and that instructors are leaving because they are receiving smaller fees for their classes now that the Carter Burden Center has taken over.

Is it true that instructors will receive smaller fees for their classes and programs are being reduced?
and about the use of the Roosevelt Island Senior Center as a Cooling Center during the very hot weather.

Mr. Dionne replied:
We are still in the process of discovery with all programming at the center. We have invited all the instructors to stay and in an effort to not reduce service we need to have feedback regarding which instructors will stay and which will need to be replaced. Our concern is to offer as many classes as possible and we must maximize the use of our DFTA consultant budget.

Cooling Center operation: we are continuing to work with building management to ensure seniors’ access to a convenient cooling center. The senior Center will remain open this evening, Thursday July 7th until 8pm and tomorrow, Friday , July 8th , it will have extended hours from 8am until 7pm to comply with the National Weather Service’s heat advisory.
During a June 28 Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos reported that Seniors should be receiving the same services if not better when the CBCA takes over management of the Roosevelt Island Senior Center.

A meeting is being held today with CBCA, Roosevelt Island Seniors Association (RISA) and Urban American, the landlord for the Senior Center in Roosevelt Landings. According to a meeting participant:
There is a meeting scheduled today.

Primary reason: to smooth the waters of duties, responsibilities and programs regarding Carter Burden and RISA.

The meeting was organized by Doryne Isley, the Urban American Project Manager, representing the buildings landlord. She will be chairing the meeting.
I asked Urban American for a statement on the subject and received a no comment at this time reply.

Here's more from the July 4

 Roosevelt Island Senior Center Celebration

including a presentation to former RISA President Delores Green of a Women Of Distinction Award by newly elected RISA President Barbara Parker on behalf of NY State Senator Jose Serrano.

Ms. Green thanked Senator Serrano for the award and congratulated Ms. Parker on being RISA President. Ms Green also asked for a stop to the bad rumors about the Senior Center and said RISA will be working with CBCA to make a relationship. 

For an interesting profile of Carter Burden Center for the Aging Executive Director Bill Dionne read this June 15, NY Press article
William Dionne has watched the Carter Burden Center for the Aging flourish in the 25 years he’s been its executive director. “It’s been ever growing. When I started there was just one location. We now have nine different locations,” he said of the philanthropic organization that provides services for New Yorkers 60 and older.

When he began there in 1991, the center was assisting 1,500 seniors. It now helps 5,000 with 3,500 volunteers and a staff of 85. Dionne says his work at CBCA keeps him enthusiastic and quite busy, since the landscape for elderly residents is constantly changing. “The issues that we’re facing in aging today are very different than the ones we were looking at 25 years ago. And the gaps in service and need just keep growing,” he explained.

As for initiatives that have launched since his tenure began, one has been the building of a facility on East 99th Street to house 1,700 people after the decommissioning of the Coler-Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island. Another worthwhile project they’ve instituted is an art gallery in Chelsea where reemerging senior artists can exhibit their work....
Click here for the full NY Press article.

UPDATE 7:45 PM - Following meeting today, CBCA's Bill Dionne adds:
We are pleased to announce that the Carter Burden Center for the Aging, the NYC Department for the Aging, Roosevelt Island Senior Association, and Doryne Isley, Portfolio Manager for Urban American, have agreed to continue our positive cooperative efforts on behalf of Roosevelt Island’s seniors. We look forward to having you join us on this journey.
UPDATE 7/9 - Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright adds:
As a part of our commitment to support critical services for my constituents on Roosevelt Island, I have allocated $5,000 to The Carter Burden Center for the Aging. These funds will be used towards Roosevelt Island Senior Center recreational programs and classes that promote wellness, socialization, and education. Roosevelt Islanders can continue to count on my support to enhance the quality of life in our community