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A Center for Excellence to grow up and grow older

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A couple of years have passed since Glen Cove earned the World Health Organization and AARP’s Age-Friendly status in 2018, making it an ideal place to grow up and grow old. Carol Waldman, the former executive director of the Glen Cove Senior Center and current liaison consultant to the city, decided she wanted to take that friendliness a step further.

She partnered with Nassau County to apply for a grant from the State Department of Health and Office for the Aging to become a Center for Excellence, meaning that Glen Cove would be a model for other communities. Under this agreement, Nassau County would learn from Glen Cove in becoming age-friendly and Glen Cove would reach its goal of excellence.

“The concept of being age friendly is that it enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities,” explained Christine Rice, the current executive director of the Glen Cove Senior Center, at the city’s May 19 pre-council meeting. “It continues to treat them with respect regardless of their age and gives a place to stay connected to people that are important to them. It helps people stay healthy and active in their older years.” 

After the city received the grant from AARP and the WHO to become Age-Friendly in 2018, it had to establish an advisory board and a four year draft plan with the support of resident Vincenza Caruso to be presented to City Council in order to meet the eight established domains of what makes an Age-Friendly community — outdoor spaces and public spaces, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, work and civic engagement, communication and information and community and health services. 

In this collaboration between the county and city, the two year contract with NYSOFA will award the county $80,000 and the city with $100,000. A percentage of the money awarded to Glen Cove will be given to the county for oversight. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Nassau County in terms of Glen Cove being identified as the place where we can create initiatives that will hopefully inspire and model for the rest of the county,” Waldman said.

This project, which was coordinated closely with Jorge Martinez, the director of the Nassau County Office for the Aging, will make Nassau County one of the few counties in the state to receive this opportunity. New York was established as the first age-friendly state by the WHO and AARP in 2017.

“It sounds terrific and I’m so happy to be a Center for Excellence in anything,” councilwoman Danielle Fugazy Scagliola said to Waldman at the pre-council meeting. “That makes me so happy. So what will the benefit be to our community?” 

Under this grant, Waldman explained, programs called “Time Bank” and “Walk With the Doc.” would be introduced. A hub would also be established in Glen Cove, making itself available for other communities in the county to reach out and receive Age-Friendly guidance. 

The time banking project is a barter system that will be created in collaboration with Hofstra University. A community member will be able to offer a service, such as babysitting or yard work, in exchange for a coupon or a free hour of support. All services would be of equal value and everyone in the community could participate.

In addition, the Glen Cove Senior Center and Northwell Health are coordinating a program called “Walk with a Doc.” that would allow residents interested in walking to try it with a health-care professional. As medical professionals walk with residents, they would also be able to recognize any unnoticed accessibility issues throughout the city, such as crosswalk lights changing too quickly or a lack of benches. Residents would also learn to become comfortable talking with medical professionals.

“The whole idea of ‘Walk with a Doc.’ was supposed to be multi-purpose,” Waldman said. “Now that walking together is not encouraged, at this moment at least, we are really focused on possibly talking with the doc.’”  

Councilman Gaitley Stevenson Mathews brought up that during these days in quarantine, a chance to speak with a doctor would be especially beneficial for seniors whose needs are not accounted for. 

“We are concerned that people not just remain healthy physically, but remain healthy emotionally and psychologically,” Waldman said. 

The grant will cover a project coordinator, web designer, mapping, consulting, project assistance, Time-Bank training and data entry. “I’m just happy to see that Glen Cove will benefit even more,” City of Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke said. 

This project was approved at the Glen Cove City Council meeting on May 26.