Every week Laura Singer-Magdoff walks from her apartment on Webb Avenue to Kingsbridge Road, carrying a sign asking for drivers to honk for peace.
Singer-Magdoff is a 93-year-old resident of Kittay House, and on Thursday, October 21, she was asking people to celebrate the dual anniversaries of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Bronx Campus and Kittay House, which are both a part of Jewish Home Lifecare.
The event, called the Sixty40 Celebration, honored the 60th year the Bronx Campus has been providing services for the elderly and the 40th year that Kittay House has helped seniors like Singer-Magdoff to live activeand independent lives.
“It’s been 40 years,” said Kittay House director Arlene Richman. “And we believe lifebegins at 40 at Kittay House.”
The Bronx Campus opened in October 1950 on a five-acre site bordered by Kingsbridge Road and University and Webb avenues. Originally it was just an orphanage, but today it is a 816-bed, long-term care and rehabilitation facility that has three Housing and Urban Development residences.
Administrator Rita Morgan said the next 60 years will see some changes atthe Bronx campus.
Moments before the anniversary ceremony, officials with the Bronx campus cut the ribbon on a Hemodialysis Special Therapy Center, and soon the original building that housed the orphanage will be razed to make way for a 68-bed living center. Morgan also hopes to focus on working together with area hospitals to make assisted living a priority.
“We want to set the standard for delivering services to those with early and advanced stages of dementia,” she said. “We want to create the environment they need in order to thrive. We’re really looking to serve whatever else the Bronx needs.”
Kittay House was established in 1970. Today it houses 300 seniors, and provides social, educational and cultural activities, among other things.
“As you get older you lose energy. What we do is we allow seniors to live as they always have. There’s no laundry, or shopping that they need to do, so they can use their energy with things they enjoy,” said Richman, noting that most of the seniors that come to the center are isolated and undernourished. “People do better if they have a community. We’re committed to having lives made convenient, so they can live and be creative and creativity is contagious.”
Along with improving the lives of seniors, the Bronx centers employ a total of 783 Bronxites. More than 1,700 Bronxites work for the company at other facilities in Manhattan, and Westchester.
“It takes commitment to stick to anything for a year or two, but imagine 60 years,” Councilman Fernando Cabrera said during the ceremony Thursday. “When I think about commitment like that. I think about vision.”