Nonprofit Lends Seniors A Helping Hand

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

Since 1972, the nonprofit Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults has been enhancing the quality of life for seniors in the community by offering a number useful services at a low cost or for free.

“Forty-one years ago, there were not the number of programs that are available to seniors now,” said Beverly Collier, executive director at JSPOA. “There was definitely an absence of places where people could go for social services, a place where people can go for socialization and a place where people can just get a break.”

Every year, Ann Williams, 101 years old, coordinates the Jackson Center’s Annual Spring Fashion. She is pictured here making a grand entrance with her escort, Clifton Rutherford, 80 years old.

Every year, Ann Williams, 101 years old, coordinates the Jackson Center’s Annual Spring Fashion. She is pictured here making a grand entrance with her escort, Clifton Rutherford, 80 years old.

JSPOA currently operates three centers – Friendship Adult Day Care, Rockaway Boulevard Senior Center and Theodora G. Jackson Adult Center, all of which are in Jamaica and offer different types of services.

The Friendship Center, located at 92-33 170th St., focuses on exclusively servicing a population of mentally and physically frail older adults who have become socially isolated and partially dependant on others for their daily living. Visitors include people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and developmentally disabled seniors.

The Rockaway Boulevard Center, located at 123-10 143rd St., proudly bears the motto “This is the place.” It offers a variety of fun activities for seniors, ranging from computer classes to ceramic classes to exercise programs and even dance classes.

The Theodora G. Jackson Adult Center, located at 92-47 165th St., similarly offers an abundance of exciting activities for adults 60 and older, but places a heavier focus on fostering the physical, spiritual and economic well-being of seniors.

In addition to those three centers, the nonprofit runs an employment program for seniors that are 55 or older.

“It’s a part-time training program that does place people in an employment. They can be in the program for 48 months,” Collier said. “We give them training and hopefully place them in competitive employment.”
Another key program JSPOA offers for men and women over the age of 35 is a crime victim workshop that is funded by State of New York.

“If it’s a person who has been a victim of crime, we help them in terms of supportive services by offering them counseling and accompanying them to court if it is that type of a situation,” she said. “A trend we’ve noticed is that a lot of seniors are the victims of scams nowadays.”

Like many nonprofits in the City and the country, JSPOA has been encountering significant budget cuts, making it difficult to sustain all the valuable programs it offers.

“All nonprofits are experiencing some struggles right now. And I think that comes after many years of the previous [Bloomberg] Administration not giving as much to these types of services,” Collier explained. “There have been quite a few cutbacks over the years, and our City agencies experienced cutbacks also.”

“I think that all populations that are in need of services are unfortunately competing with each other for a small pot of dollars, so it is a shame that children have to compete with seniors for needed services that will help every body’s quality of life,” she added.

As a means to raise funds for the JSPOA centers, the nonprofit, in conjunction with the Black Spectrum Theatre, will host a Theater/Dinner Night on May 17.

Tickets to the Theater/Dinner Night at Black Spectrum Theatre are $50 and it will include the cost of dinner and the show, “Smell the Power.” Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 p.m.

For more information about JSPOA’s services or the fundraising event, call (718) 657-6692.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or @nkozikowska.