By Tim Harfmann
Susan Hall cancelled bingo at the Bayside Senior Center in Bayside, Queens just in case the would-be players wanted to make it home before the storm got too bad. But the Catholic Charities center remained open, providing shelter and warm meals. “I’m not worried about (the snowstorm). I’m used to all these little storms. I don’t think it’s going to be a big one. I’m hoping it’s not,” said Hall. She’s a member of the senior center and also volunteers.
With a fierce forecast of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the city, many seniors had something to eat, then left early as a precaution. “When you see the snow coming down, people have a tendency to leave the center early because, as you age, you’re not willing to take as many risks as you did when you were younger,” said Patricia Walton, another senior center member. Walton used a bus provided by Catholic Charities. “I listen to the weather report every morning before I come and depending on the weather, I put my boots on. If it’s raining, I’ll bring an umbrella and put my raincoat on, so I always come prepared,” said Walton.
But some senior citizens weren’t able to travel to the center at all. Catholic Charities didn’t forget about them. The organization delivers thousands of meals to homebound residents everyday and provides extra meals thanks to New York City’s Department for the Aging. “We made sure that we sent everyone a shelf-stable box of food just in case, so they had extra cans of soup, vegetables, crackers, things like that. And then for the snow, we made sure we delivered in advance,” said Jennifer Llamosi. She oversees the CCBQ Home Delivered Meals Program in parts of Queens. But the interaction between the delivery driver and the homebound resident may provide even more nourishment. “This driver might be the only person that they see everyday, so we want to make sure that it’s a friendly visit, as well as a check system… make sure they’re okay, make sure they have the food,” said Llamosi.
Catholic Charities planned on keeping centers open the next day, February 21stduring regular business hours. Senior citizens planned on being there. “I have extra food at home, and i live in an apartment building, so I don’t have to worry about shoveling,” said Hall. If you or someone you know needs help from Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, you can call their headquarters at 718-722-6000 or go online to CCBQ.org.