By Patrick Rocchio
City Island’s senior citizens will be getting around town more easily with the allocation of a new van to the island’s senior center.
A “ribbon cutting” for the new van was held on Wednesday, December 28. It will carry seniors to and from shopping, appointments, and Presbyterian Social Services’s senior program at the City Island Senior Center at Pilot Cove Manor.
The van was purchased with $42,000 allocated by Councilman Jimmy Vacca approximately 18 months ago. Vacca joined Rimas Jason, executive director of Presbyterian Social Services; Patricia Grondahl, director of PSS City Island Senior Programs; Pilot Cove Manor director Virginia Gallagher; and seniors who live in Pilot Cove and who take part in the Monday through Friday programing at the center, in celebrating the purchase of the van.
“City Island is geographically isolated and for seniors to go off the island is very difficult, and for the physically disabled that is not possible without a van,” Vacca said. “I believe that senior transportation leads to seniors being engaged and maintaining friendships, as well as going shopping and to appointments. We often don’t have the best public transportation in the city, so these vans are a lifeline.”
The van, a 2011 Ford Econoline E350 Super Cargo, is slightly smaller than the center’s previous van but gets better gas millage and is not restricted from any of the parkways because of its size, Grondhal said. It can hold about 11 people, she said.
“Essentially, it gives the seniors greater independence,” Grondhal said. “On City Island, if you are a senior and don’t have transportation, it is very difficult to go grocery shopping unless you shop on City Island.”
Since many seniors no longer find driving a safe alternative, the van is used every day of the program, and sometimes on weekends, to transport seniors to and from food shopping and to activities, Grondhal stated.
In addition to taking seniors to and from programing at the center, groups of seniors are taking on trips to the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden, and other local destinations, Grondhal said.
“This van will do a tremendous amount just because this is the only program for seniors on City Island,” Jason said. “Our goal is to keep seniors healthy, engaged, and connected. There are a lot of seniors who would benefit from our services, but don’t have transportation to and from the program. They not only get transportation to and from our program here, but also to other activities and appointments.”
The van that the senior center had before was about 14 years old and had been breaking down, Gallagher said. The new vehicle was needed and necessary, Gallagher said to about 30 seniors present at the ribbon cutting, and fulfills a need to get seniors to wherever they want to go.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393