The January 14 opening of the Bronx SAGE center drew City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Caryn Resnick, a deputy commissioner in the Department for the Aging, Lewis Goldstein, the County Democratic Committee’s LGBT liaison, Councilmember Ritchie Torres, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmembers Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Annabel Palma, and SAGE executive director Michael Adams. | COURTESY: SAGE
LGBT Bronx seniors now have a place to go for both camaraderie and assistance.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, celebrated the opening of its first full-time senior center in the borough on January 14.
The opening was part of a $1.5 million initiative last year to create full-time SAGE centers across the city, funded by the City Council and opened with support from the New York City Department for the Aging.
Fordham area facility first to serve borough’s LGBT seniors
The Staten Island center opened in December, as did an expanded center in Harlem. There are also currently centers in both Midtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn. And SAGE members have long had use of their own space at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village, though recent changes to their arrangement there led to controversy last year.
The initiative to bring SAGE centers to more New Yorkers was spearheaded by out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres. The new center at the Union Community Health Center on East 188th Street in Fordham falls within his central Bronx district.
Torres termed the grand opening ceremony — attended by a number of Council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — an emotional moment.
“This has tremendous meaning for me as a gay man,” he said.
When SAGE approached him, Torres said he was upset to learn that while there are an estimated 100,000 LGBT seniors in the city, there was only one full-time senior center serving that population.
“It’s hard to imagine a population that is more invisible and more tragically under-served than LGBT elders,” said Torres.
It was important to the Council member to help create more safe spaces for LGBT seniors, where they can find a community and be themselves without fear.
“They no longer have to age alone,” said Torres.
The goal of the center is to provide Bronx LGBT seniors with a place for both socializing and support where there previously was none, said SAGE Center Bronx site manager José Collazo.
“They don’t have the opportunity to commune with each other,” he said.
The center will offer a calendar full of games, crafts, and movies, as well as other activities seniors suggest. Hot lunches will be provided daily.
In addition, there will be exercise classes and nutrition workshops, and the staff will provide help with navigating government benefit programs.
“They can get vital information they need so they can lead an active and healthy life,” said Collazo.
SAGE also provides a network of resources, such as recommending gay-friendly health care providers.
“They have an agency that will advocate for them,” said Collazo about the center’s seniors.
For more information about SAGE Center Bronx, visit sageusa.org or call 718-220-2020.