yonkers connects

When Kelly Chiarella, director of the Yonkers Office of the Aging, and Judy Fink, director of geriatric services at WJCS (Westchester Jewish Community Services) secured a New York State grant for $200,000 a year for five years, to fund the city’s Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NNORC), they never anticipated it would also support their senior population through the bleakest days of the pandemic and beyond.

While supporting case management and nursing services, the grant is also funding a variety of programs and activities for those aging independently at home.

When Covid hit Westchester, Yonkers NNORC Coordinator Sally Pinto immediately recognized the need for a “tech squad” to support people who weren’t necessarily comfortable with technology as a means to socialize and connect. She enlisted the help of the Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), who recruited high schoolers interested in helping older adults in the area.

The Yonkers students work with seniors to get them on Zoom so they can participate in virtual programs and activities, visit with friends, and connect with their children and grandchildren.

The all-volunteer teen corps meets once a week for training on different technologies and to review issues they come across. In addition to teaching basic tech skills, they tutor seniors on photo-taking and accessing virtual programming offered by the Yonkers libraries, which have three physical locations: the Riverfront Library, the Crestwood Library, and the Grinton I. Will Library.

Z Baird, branch manager of the Crestwood Library, says they are finding different ways “to build togetherness without being physically there.” Seniors are also contending with the closing of senior centers, exacerbating already-existing social isolation and making access to technology more important than ever.
And while the Yonkers libraries are open for browsing as well as contactless pick-up, Z is partnering with NNORC and other organizations to keep the community engaged, connected and thriving. That includes programs to keep seniors moving and to provide structure to their days, whether it’s a 9 a.m. yoga class or 1 p.m. bingo.

In addition to library resources such as streaming movies online and downloadable books, there’s something to look forward to every morning: from seminars – courtesy of New York-Presbyterian to art and gardening indoors, among many other virtual activities.

Assuring seniors there are many ways to remain active and participate in the community, Sally adds, “They are not alone!” Z concurs, ” We are going to thrive together!

To find out more about activities and programs, and to participate and engage, contact Z Baird (914-779-3774 or z@ypl.org) or Sally Pinto (914-391-1323 or Sally.Pinto@yonkersny.gov).

Programs via Zoom

In partnership with Yonkers NNORC, Yonkers Public Library, and New York-Presbyterian/ Lawrence Hospital, the following can be found via Zoom:
BODY/MIND FITNESS with Coach Karl. Energize your body and prepare your mind to face challenges from the comfort of your home. Practice mindfulness and movement for a better body-mind connection on Wednesdays at 9a.m.
BINGO: Play Bingo on Zoom, Thursdays at 1p.m. Contact Z at 914-779-3774 or z@ypl.org for Bingo Cards.
MEDITATION CHAIR YOGA: Dr. Rubina Heptulla, of Millennium Medical & Rehab, walks participants through fitness and meditation exercises on Fridays at 9a.m.
NEW YORK-PRESBYTERIAN/ LAWRENCE HOSPITAL SPEAKER SERIES: Learn from the hospital’s experts about a variety of topics in their specialties, once a month on Tuesdays at 1p.m. (Dates to be announced.)
For details on the above programs and Zoom call-in/password, contact Sally Pinto at Yonkers NNORC at 914-391-1323 or sally.pinto@yonkersny.gov

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