September 10, 2017 was a very special day for our agency, as we held a dedication ceremony for Joan Wachtler, the founder of our CAPE Geriatric Mental Health Clinic.
During Joan’s 26-year career at the Samuel Field Y, she strategically built and developed additional programs that together, form a comprehensive continuum of care for older adults designed to assist people to remain in their home communities and age with integrity. Achievements included the creation of the Y’s transportation network; the Alzheimer’s Family Respite Program, a social adult day program for people with memory loss; as well as the creation of the Early Stage Memory Care Program, an innovative program that recognizes the critical support services necessary to assist individuals and their families following the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Innovation and community planning defined Joan’s work. Collaboration with Long Island Jewish Hospital’s Geriatric Program resulted in a new program in Queens – The Day Center for the Frail Elderly, a program for physically frail older adults that provided medical monitoring and socialization.
In 1997, Joan led the Samuel Field Y and its community to create one of New York State’s first Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC), the Clearview Assistance Program (CAP) in Whitestone followed by the Deepdale CARES NORC in Little Neck. Remarkably, the programs that Joan created and nurtured throughout her tenure at the Samuel Field Y continue to thrive and now serve over 10,000 older adults each year.
In addition to her inspired innovation, Joan’s legacy lives in the many social workers whom she inspired, supervised and mentored. Many of these social workers are leaders in the field. They, and all of us, are indebted to her for a lifetime of achievement.
Joan's vision, wisdom and tenacity helped us become the resource that we are for a large portion of our community's most vulnerable people, and we'll forever be grateful for her leadership. Moving forward, all of the programs at CAPE will be known as the Joan Wachtler Mental Health Programs of the Samuel Field Y.
We're incredibly proud of Flo Cvern and Lucy Rodriguez, two participants in our Senior Center who will be performing at the third annual “Senior Ensemble Theatre”at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadow Park on Thursday, June 29. The following article was written by Anthony O'Reilly and published in the Queens Chronicle, and details this special event.
For Richard Hinojosa, director of education at the Queens Theatre, the stories that senior citizens have to share are some of the best out there.
“After 65 years of living, you’re going to have some interesting stories to tell,” Hinojosa told the Chronicle.
And now, he’s found a way to get many seniors into the same room to tell their tales in an entertaining way that the general public can enjoy. The Queens Theatre will be holding the third “Senior Ensemble Theatre” next Thursday, June 29, where seniors from six centers in the borough will tell their stories through spoken word, song and other forms of performance art.
“We try to touch on all the performing arts,” Hinojosa said. “We try to combine it into a cabaret.”
The performance started with the Bayside Senior Center — this year, the participants are the SNAP Innovative Senior Center in Queens Village, the Angelo Petromelis Senior Center in Flushing, the Catholic Charities Howard Beach Senior Center, the Seaside Senior Center in Rockaway Beach, the Samuel Field Y Senior Center in Little Neck and the Corona Senior Center.
Judy Ascherman, the program manager at Catholic Charities Howard Beach Senior Center, said the participants there have “been rehearsing for a while.
“I think it’s going to be a great performance,” Ascherman said. “Anything involving the arts is wonderful for older people to participate in.”
Former Queens Chronicle sales manager Dave Abramowitz, a member of the Howard Beach center, plans on reading from an opinion piece he wrote while with the paper. His wife, Jenny, will enchant the audience with an operatic performance, which Ascherman described as “beautiful.”
“She is fantastic,” Ascherman said.
The program is made possible due to grants from Queens City Council members, such as Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), who sit on the Queens Interagency Council on Aging.
Hinojosa encouraged all to come to the Queens Theatre and enjoy the free show.
“They’re going to be in for a night of really fun songs to sing and good stories,” he said. “We’re going to be giving out lyric sheets to the audience and at the end of the night our piano player will get up and play a few songs.”
April is a very special month for the Samuel Field Y, as it's nationally recognized as Autism Awareness Month. One of our most popular programs is the Basketball Buddies-Soccer Stars program, which is an inclusion based program where children with autism are paired up with mentors - typically volunteer high school and college students - who teach skills for the correlating sports. Not only do participants learn and get to play basketball and soccer, more importantly, they get to learn about teamwork, communicating, sportsmanship, and trying your best.
"He was hesitant in the beginning because he never experienced anything physical like this, then he began to love it," said Song Eun Lee, whose eight-year old son Moses is in his first year in the program. "We noticed him gaining self-confidence and he's really motivated and very happy."
“Soccer Stars builds an inclusive and caring community in which children with autism, as well as their teen volunteer coaches grow, learn, play, socialize and experience success,” said Jeri Mendelsohn, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Samuel Field Y. Currently in its 12th year (the program was started in the Fall of 2005, and has continued yearly thanks to the NYC Autism Initiative and JE + ZB Butler Foundation) with over 60 children enrolled, this program is often one of the first opportunities that these children have to learn about sports. With this in mind, the SPOT Team at PS/MS 200 in Flushing, which holds fundraising events for different charities and takes part in various community service projects throughout the school year, selected our program to benefit from its most recent fundraiser.
"Being a New York City school teacher as well as an employee of the Samuel Field Y, I thought it would be a great idea to combine both positions," said Dina Shmuel, a 6th and 7th grade English teacher at PS/MS 200, who not only is the coordinator of the SPOT Team, but is a long-time, part-time employee at SFY. "After seeing the great impact Basketball Buddies has on children with autism and the fact that April is considered Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to share the effect that this particular program has on the incredible young people that I work with."
While the SPOT team creates incentives to reward Pre-K through 5th grade classes who follow through with appropriate behaviors that support school-wide expectations, and emphasizes what it means to be kind, respectful and responsible in school, it was the 6th-8th grade students at PS/MS 200 who held a bake sale that raised the $500 that were donated to the Samuel Field Y.
"We are incredibly thankful to have received the generous donation from PS/MS 200 for our Basketball Buddies and Soccer Stars programs," said Amanda Smith, the director of the program for the last three years. "With their donation, we will be able to purchase trophies and t-shirts for the children who participate, which enables them to feel as part of a real team. I can't emphasize enough how much this donation has meant to us and how impactful the money will truly be."
Even though Basketball Buddies and Soccer Stars has had such a positive impact on participants and their families, it's incredible that it has now also reached the students at P.S./M.S. 200.
"I feel as if many people take what they have for granted because they cannot see through the eyes of those who are less fortunate," said Gigi, a 14-year old on the SPOT Team. "But if we can work together to give back to our community and others around the world, we can still see how a little help could make a big difference."
"Just knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life makes me feel accomplished," added Kyana, 13.
We're so thankful for these thoughtful, future leaders, and we owe a huge thank you to Ms. Shmuel for organizing this fundraiser.
For more information on the Basketball Buddies/Soccer Stars program, or other programs for children with autism, please contact Amanda Smith at 718-423-6111.
With Summer 2017 less than 100 days away for Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village and SFY Day Camps, we thought this would be a great article to share on the importance of unplugging and going outside. Many thanks to Amy Hertzberg, the author of the column, which you can originally find on today.com, or by clicking here.
After eight exhilarating days in Costa Rica, my family and I waited in the security line at the San Jose airport to return home. With an iPhone in her hands, headphones in her ears, my daughter, 11, rolled her eyes and actually exclaimed, “I’m soooooo bored!”
Seriously?! My husband and I exchanged looks and asked our daughter WHY, after a week’s worth of adventure, she couldn’t handle the lack of excitement at the airport. This certainly wasn’t the first time we have heard her cry boredom. She declares boredom whenever she puts away her laundry, helps set the table, accompanies me on errands, and even while spending the day tooling around the city.
We are raising the first “all-technology” generation. Entertainment is at our kids fingertips 24/7. And herein lies the danger.
Whether it’s the newest episode of Dance Moms, a binge-watch of The Walking Dead (I’m not sure which show’s characters I find more disgusting), the latest Xbox game, the constant stream of YouTube videos, SnapChat stories, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, selfie-streaks or Musicaly’s, the choices to amuse and entertain our kids are endless and available around the clock.
This Gen X mom remembers the time when only three television networks existed and programing actually stopped shortly after midnight. Remember when The Late Night Show was followed by local news, the national anthem, static, then … complete darkness?
Today, screen time has replaced “downtime” and we are raising “double-screeners”.
Few kids have the attention span to sit and read a book, play a board game or even watch a TV show or movie on the big screen, without ANOTHER screen in their hand.
While watching the Grammy Awards, my kids actually asked to fast-forward the slow parts. We were watching in real-time! My 9th grader told me that he has listened to music on his headphones in the classroom. With my mouth agape, my son explained that when another student asks a question to which he already knows the answer, he listens to music instead. Never a dull moment, right?
It’s growing increasingly more difficult to keep our children entertained and today’s kids literally do not know how to handle boredom. It’s critical that our kids, in real-time, learn how to cope with life’s boring moments without the urge to press mute or fast-forward.
1. Boredom Fosters Creativity
Gen X parents like me were raised without today’s structure, supervision and stimulation. We devised our own amusement; we created games, skits and songs, constructed forts out of blankets, built houses of cards and played outdoors for hours. Sound familiar?
We KNEW how to be bored. It was in that quiet space and stillness where we became imaginative, inventive, introspective and inspired — where we became ourselves.
When kids actually have time to be bored, creativity and innovation emerges and they might just discover something new about themselves.
2. Boredom Fosters Independence
When all of our kids’ time is filled with structure and stimulation, our kids become dependent on external resources to fill the lulls, even to think and problem-solve and are often uncertain how to occupy any free time they do have.
When kids truly experience boredom and tap into their own internal resources (rather than depend on external stimuli), they gain a sense of confidence and independence.
Remember when we taught our babies how to self-soothe? Whether we eventually removed the pacifier or let them cry it out, they learned how to be self-reliant.
3. Boredom Fosters Ambition, Motivation and Drive
When all of our kids’ time is chock-full of entertainment or structure, they don’t have an opportunity to motivate or awaken their own inner-drive.
Now more than ever, kids need to experience boredom; to allow their minds to wander, to pursue their own interests and ambitions and to discover who they are–separate from their screens.
5 Tips to Bring Back Boredom
1. Establish Limits And Boundaries Around Electronic
Set rules that mandate screen-free zones. Include a daily shut-down time as well as limits to double-screening. Screen-free zones might include family gatherings, meal times, short car rides or specific times of day.
2. Be Careful Not To Over-Schedule
Ensure that your kids’ schedules include a healthy balance of structured and unstructured time. Know what works best for your own child and when it’s too much, set limits or make adjustments.
3. Resist the Role of Julie McCoy, Cruise Director
Parents: It’s not our job to fill every minute of our kids’ day with stimulation and entertainment. We are not cruise directors. When our kids complain that they are bored, resist the urge to “fix it.” Remember the pacifier? Instead of turning on the TV, handing over their phone or driving them somewhere, let them be bored. Sit back, relax and watch what they come up with.
4. Boredom does not excuse kids from obligations or commitments
It makes me crazy when I hear parents say, “I didn’t make him go because he’d be bored.” It’s okay to be bored! Life brings boring moments and our kids must learn how to handle them.
Whether it’s a religious service or a family event, your kids’ (potential) boredom is not a sole reason to excuse your kids, especially if it is their own commitment, obligation, or is something that is important to you.
5. Parents As Role Models
It’s a challenge for adults to escape today’s constant activity. While we run from place to place we, too are entertained with screens even at gas pumps, restaurants and grocery stores. Rarely is there space in our own lives to let our minds wander.
Let’s show our kids that we are able to unplug regularly, embrace boredom and discover ourselves. Through our own actions, our kids can learn how to handle boredom without the need for headphones or a remote control to drown-out or fast forward the boring parts.