To further engage with the senior community, the Sid Jacobson JCC’s Linda & Gerald Marsden Senior Passport Programs offers a wide array of weekly in-person and virtual offerings.
However, these opportunities seek to enhance more than the physical health of seniors. The focus of the initiative is to enhance all aspects of health for participants. Julie Assael, the senior program coordinator, said the different Senior Passport Programs help build bonds across the aging community.
“Our large number of programs offer something for everyone and give our seniors activities several days a week, which provides the basis for our members to become close friends,” said Assael. “They spend a lot of time together. When someone unexpectedly doesn’t show up, members will check on them to make sure they are okay. The bond built between the participants is really something to see.”
Senior Passport Program Details
The Senior Passport Programs are available for individuals 60 years of age and older. The goal is to help participants achieve physical fitness, experience the world through cultural programs, keep their minds active with lectures and engage with their peers in social groups.
Being a Senior Passport holder grants access to four days of special Senior Passport Programs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for one yearly fee of $250. Snowbirds can pay a fee of $200. Passport fees are also included in a JCC membership.
Programming highlights include:
News Behind the News
Participants are invited to share their thoughts and hear from others on the hottest topics in the news. The conversation is led by a moderator.
This group discussion opportunity allows attendees to entertain each other with personal life stories.
Reach Lecture Series
Weekly lectures are provided on a myriad of topics including history, religion, music, theater and more.
More stories and laughs are shared over knitting and crocheting in person.
Attendees are invited to play cards, bridge, Mahjongg and other games with friends. Those interested in a specific game will be matched with other players.
All About Israel
Seniors can learn about Israeli current events from Shawn Gecht of the Randie Waldbaum Malinsky Center for Israel. The group meets every other week.
Golden Girls Women’s Club
Women come together to share similar intellectual interests each month.
Gezunter Men’s Club
Male participants are invited to enjoy camaraderie, refreshments and hear from guest speakers each month.
Seniorcize with Natalie (Virtual)
Exercises emphasize flexibility and strength with the goal of avoiding joint stress. Classes focus on lower body/balance and upper body/core.
Reaction and Support
Assael said after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the JCC began offering virtual fitness classes like Yoga and Zumba. The classes grew from there and now they offer “Seniorcize” programming virtually and in-person. “We knew many of our seniors would be in need of the activity and the camaraderie they had grown accustomed to, and we wanted to keep everyone’s spirits up during a very difficult time,” said Assael. “It’s remained incredibly popular, and we look forward to it remaining in place for as long as our members want it.”
For further support, seniors can connect to a JCC volunteer weekly. The visit can include enjoying a cup of coffee, a game of cards, discussing current events and more. For community members who do not currently participate in the senior programming, the JCC is proud to partner with UJA Federation New York to offer the Isolation to Connection program. This offers short-term social work services and personalized connection with long-term resources.
UJA Federation of New York’s Tech Helpline, in partnership with Older Adults Technology Services and Senior Planet, provides advice over the phone to commonly asked questions from seniors.
Assael said the overall reaction of participants in the Senior Passport Programs has been nothing short of incredible. “They really enjoy the programs we offer, and the sense of camaraderie and belonging truly bring them back week after week,” she said. “To see the faces of the senior citizens as they interact has been overwhelming. They enjoy it, and their joy is contagious among the staff.”
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