Oct. 16, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan
Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP) received $1 million in state funding to complete renovations to their long ago acquired building in Glen Oaks – eventually allowing their senior center to move out of their current location on the Creedmoor campus in Queens Village.
Several elected officials gathered in the cafeteria of the SNAP of Eastern Queens Older Adult Center on Monday, Oct. 16, to announce the new funding to a packed room of seniors, who regularly rely on SNAP for hot meals and enrichment. The seniors have been waiting to utilize the new space for over a decade now, and these funds are expected to complete construction on their future center.
Renovations to the new facility in the Bellerose Jewish Center in Glen Oaks have been underway since it was purchased in June 2013, and so far just the exterior is reported to be completed. Officials attributed the slow process of upgrading the old building to a lack of funding. They were also unable to provide an approximate timeline for the completion of the capital project.
“SNAP has been an invaluable asset for older adults throughout Queens for more than four decades,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who gained representation of the region in January following redistricting. “The organization has faced significant challenges and financial setbacks while trying to leave the Creedmoor campus and upgrade to their new facility and I am proud to help by providing this funding.”
The current priority is to complete renovations on what will be the senior center area and the kitchen, which will also allow a Meals on Wheels program to run.
“If we need to worry about the rest of the building, as we go, we’ll do that as well,” said Paola Miceli, the CEO and president of SNAP, at the announcement on Oct. 16, adding that the funds will “hopefully” allow for the full completion of the building.
Miceli thanked the elected officials for securing the funding to finalize the new center. She added that without discretionary funding from elected officials, special programming such as trips and other recreational activities for the seniors would not be as readily available.
Corey Bearak, the current chairman of the SNAP Board of Directors, took on the building project “almost single-handedly” according to Stavisky. He is currently coordinating the project with contractors, architects and elected officials to carry it to completion. The elected officials in attendance mentioned that Bearak has consistently advocated for the new center with regular calls and emails.
City Council Member Linda Lee, who represents Queens Village, also pointed out that the senior population in the city, at approximately 1.3 million, exceeds the number of students in the public school system, which is roughly at 1 million. And 400,000 of the older adults are just in Queens, higher than other boroughs.
“When we talk about accessibility, when we talk about Access-A-Ride, when we talk about transportation, all of these things, especially here in eastern Queens, we need to do better,” said Lee, who also allocated $110,000 in funding for SNAP programs last year. “We need to make sure that we’re bringing those services to you all.”
Yet, the NYC Department of Aging has one of the smallest budgets and will likely be one of the many city agencies to face budget cuts next year due to strained resources due to the migrant crisis. SNAP is one of the many senior service agencies that relies on contracts from the NYC Department of Aging. They also continue to pay rent to utilize the Creedmoor building.
“It is imperative that we move the SNAP of Eastern Queens Older Adult Center off the Creedmoor Campus and into a State-of-the-Art facility that will provide a safe, welcoming and enriched environment for all older adults in the community,” said Miceli. “We want to give you the home that all of you deserve in a facility where you can be safe, happy, secure and enriched because a newer building will be able to do a lot more.”
State Sen. Leroy Comrie previously allocated $500,000 to the construction when he represented Creedmoor prior to redistricting, and $1 million to initial construction when he served on the City Council.
Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, who recently gained representation of Creedmoor and Glen Oaks due to redistricting, was also in attendance and thanked Senator Stavisky for “leading the campaign to allocate New York state funding that will get SNAP one more big step closer to opening up its new center.”
“We’re on top of it, that’s the best we can say to you. And as the money becomes accessible, we will be moving as expeditiously as possible,” said Bearak, adding that carrying over senior services to the new building, regardless of full completion, will be prioritized. “We want you to enjoy that new building.”