JCC’s Senior Program Spotlight
JCC’s Senior Program
The new normal has not been easy for seniors. A gruesome pandemic put the elderly at an advanced health risk. In a world where seniors often struggle with loneliness and lack of direction, fear of contracting COVID made those struggles even more arduous. Seniors were already prone to staying at home and isolating themselves. Endangering oneself just by stepping outside and socializing was an unfortunate reality. The Senior Program at the JCC made sure to be there when things were bleak, and always will.
The JCC’s Senior Meals don’t have your typical cafeteria food. There is a suggested donation of $5 per meal. The program is subsidized by the Onondaga County Adult and Long-Term Care Service, which allows us to keep our cost low. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a mundane meal with a taste that matched the inexpensive cost. Luckily, the JCC has a culinary institute trained chef who works magic in the kitchen and runs one of the only Kosher certified meal sites outside of New York City that serves meals 5 days per week.
Senior Lunches have become one of the best kept secrets in the county. It has become an experience that attendees don’t just look forward to, but crave. “I have a major health condition and have a problem eating enough food, my appetite is severely diminished. It helps tremendously to sit and have a good conversation while eating good food” said Karen Nezelek. Instead of simply satisfying those that eat to live, Chef Donna goes the extra mile and satisfies those that live to eat.
During the pandemic, when many places were shutting down, the dining hall was closed but the kitchen was not. The JCC offered curbside delivery at the same cost. The servers maintained their relationships with the seniors on a first name basis. The food gave seniors a place to go and people to see, even if it was just at a distance.
Now that life has begun to settle down, the dining hall is again a place for seniors to enjoy their meal and make friends along the way. The JCC has created a safe environment where all are vaccinated and smiles can once again be met with smiles. 12pm from Monday-Friday has become a comforting time for seniors. It doesn’t stop at lunch. The JCC also offers Shabbat meals where challah bread is broken and seniors do the prayers.
The JCC simply cares more about the people than the money. The health of the community is a constant point of emphasis. The facility is kept in pristinely clean conditions, free nutritional counseling is offered throughout the year, and flu clinics are offered during the fall.
Every third Friday of the month, the JCC brings in a neighborhood advisor, where members of the community are given the opportunity to be heard. Events are thrown for national and Jewish holidays. Those that wish to celebrate among friends can do so at the JCC at no charge.
Seniors can struggle with feeling alone, now more than ever. At the JCC, there is a community to rely on. There are friends to be made.