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.