Southern Brooklyn

Groundbreaking for new senior center underscores Bay Ridge status as NORC

February 17, 2023 Chuck Otey
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Since it was launched some 46 years ago by late Bethlehem Pastor Rev. Darrel Helmers, the Bay Ridge Center — housed appropriately in the Ovington Avenue Church’s basement headquarters — has enjoyed unique community support.

Thanks to a steady group of volunteers — and professional leaders such as Maryanne Nicolosi who preceded dynamic Executive Director Todd Fliedner — the Center has become a home away from home for thousands of residents in the Greater Bay Ridge area.

Most recently the Center’s true value to the community was reflected in a $30,000 grant via John AbiHabib through the Salaam Club.

The late Rev. Helmers welcomed volunteers — including this writer — who joined in to produce a number of programs that were geared towards thousands of residents who would more enjoyably ‘retire in place’ in this community and in its earlier days enjoyed the support of civic leaders such as the late Larry Morrish and Peter Killen — two close friends who would annually ‘tour’ the community leading a caravan styled “Wheels For Meals” which flourishes until this day.

These two, and others such as then Hinsch’s proprietor John Logue and Bay Ridge Manor Owner Marty Golden — who would later become a councilman and then a state senator — would boldly trek up Third Ave. and down Fifth with collection buckets in hand.

Their pioneering work set the stage for the Center’s satellite — Bay Ridge Connects — on Third Avenue, which under the leadership of Lascel Parkinson, has become a major drawing card for the overall senior initiative providing valuable visibility to the efforts of Executive Director Fliedner and Communications Officer Dave Dring.

The Bay Ridge Center is buttressed by  ‘citizen’ support boards which enable it to reach the hearts of citizens of all ages including those from all walks of life–bankers, medical people, health professionals, professional senior consultants and newspaper executives such as Marc Hibsher and health insurance experts including Louis Peters and former Bay Ridge Council President Ralph Succar.

Serving on its board are: Patricia Marchetti, President; Allison Nidetz, Secretary; Rev. Paul Knudsen, Treasurer; Elizabeth Bohrer; and, Geraldine Brooks Cassone.

Leading the Center’s volunteer ‘board’ is Walter Ochoa, who owns the very popular Right At Home senior service in Bay Ridge. The Bay Ridge Avenue facility is only months away from its opening so we asked Communications Director Dave Dring to give us a preview:

Center Executive Dave Dring Says: ‘Inch by Inch Bay Ridge Center is Progressing on its New Location’

“‘Everyone at the Bay Ridge Center, both members and staff, are excited about our new location, 15 Bay Ridge Avenue. It has so much to offer. We are moving from a space of 5,000 square feet to one that is over 20,000 square feet. We are going from two activity spaces to seven and each of them is much larger and has advanced technology.  For example, our new Exercise Suite is divided into two rooms. The first is a strengthening room with state-of-the-art exercise equipment that we are getting from Singapore. After an international search, we found this equipment has gone through the most rigorous testing and has the most evidence proving it is the best for older adults.

“Other spaces in the new location include an Art Studio. For the first time, we have a dedicated space to keep our supplies handy, provide a wide variety of instruction as well as have self-directed time to enjoy the creative process.

“The Computer Lab is another exciting space. We’ll have workstations for instruction in the form of classes, and one-on-one instruction as well as time to use the workstations for one’s own projects. The Computer Lab will provide classes on applications for workstations, as well as tablets and smartphones. The Lab will also have a collection of tablets that members can borrow to use throughout the Center. The Center will have free WiFi for all to connect to the Internet throughout the building.

“As you probably know, pickleball is a new craze and we will have an indoor court in our multi-purpose room. This room will also be used for presentations, dance parties as well as serving hot lunches.”

“We Haven’t Moved Yet’

“We continue to offer classes at our current location: downstairs in the Lutheran Church at the corner of Ovington and Fourth Avenue (6935 Fourth Avenue). We are so thankful to the Lutheran Church for providing this space to the Center for over 47 years.”

Classes Offered

  • Free Conversational ESL with Victoria — Come learn English as a Second Language in a conversational format.  A new six-week series started on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Classes will be held on Tuesday and Friday until March 17 at 9 a.m.
  • History of Soul Train will be an entertaining as well as educational program led by our intern Sam. Come along and catch the beat. This class will be Thursday, Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.

“There are over 50 classes offered each week. Please view our calendar at www.BayRidgeCenter.org/Calendar. If you have any questions, please call us at (718) 748-0650.”

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Bay Ridge Author Dr. David Biro Addresses Seniors About “And The Bridge Is Love”

DR. DAVID BIRO, author of “And The Bridge Is Love” shown at Bay Ridge Connects on Third Ave… presents the latest well-received publication for an appreciative host of members. His Third novel “The Bridge..” is worthy of a full-blown positive review — which will be forthcoming in this space shortly — Dr. Biro — who “grew up with the Bridge” — used his novel to subtly demonstrate that the huge single-suspension span — linking Bay Ridge with Staten Island, since 1964, about the time he was born — can inspire true friendships which last for decades. Many Bay Ridgeites will recognize his main characters who are artfully drawn and could easily be real-life individuals. He avoids cliches and stereotypes yet manages to demonstrate that the bridge does have the ‘power’ to bring people together and add more meaning to their lives.

David Dring. Photo: Brooklyn Eagle.


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