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Proposed State Cuts to Senior Centers Draws Protest

Friday, March 11, 2011

Proposed cuts to senior center draws over 300 protesters on March 11, 2011 Proposed cuts to senior center draws over 300 protesters on March 11, 2011 (Lisha Arino/WNYC)

More than 300 senior citizens and their advocates showed up at City Hall Friday to protest proposed state cuts that would reduce funding to senior centers. If passed, the city said it would have to close 105 centers across the five boroughs.

Kathy Suarez, the program director for the Catholic Charities Steinway Street senior center said the centers provide seniors with social activities, in addition to necessities, like hot meals.

“It’s a second home for the seniors,” she said. If the centers were to close she said, “They would have no place to go.”

For Arnold Hamerling, being part of the Midwood Branch of the Senior League of Flatbush was literally a matter of life and death. He said the director of the center, Robin Hughes, saved his life once after he fainted while he was home alone.

“I didn’t know what happened to me,” he said. “I was calling up and the phone dropped and the line was busy and my friend was wondering what happened to me, so she told Robin and they contacted my cousin.”

The $25 million cut to the senior centers is a portion of nearly $4 billion that Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed to trim from the state's budget. The legislature is supposed to approve a new spending plan by April 1.

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