Ribbon-cutting for a new senior kitchen and youth center on the UES
By Jason Cohen
A facility that serves more than 6,000 children and low-income families, out-of-school and out-of-work youth and older adults annually on the UES recently received a $2.1 million facelift.
On June 3, the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center at 415 East 93rd Street unveiled its new senior kitchen, youth center and restrooms.
The center, which has existed for more than 50 years, provides food and security to hundreds of seniors daily through on-site hot meals and home-delivered meals to the homebound and medically fragile.
“Feeding older adults and families in need, as well as providing safe and engaging places for children to learn, grow and play have been central to the mission of the Isaacs Center, since its founding,” said Gregory Morris, president and executive director of the center. “Renovations to our senior center kitchen and youth center facilities are a significant win for this community and speak to the City’s renewed focus on critical investments in public housing residents. I thank Council Member Ben Kallos and NYCHA for their commitment to the Isaacs Center and driving this project forward.”
Construction began in the senior center in June 2018. The youth center, which provides after-school programming and workforce development services to hundreds of children and young adults, saw a complete bathroom renovation, with a replacement of plumbing fixtures, new LED lighting fixtures and new doors and frames.
Meanwhile, the kitchen lacked proper ventilation for more than a decade. This caused problems with food storage and respiratory issues for the meal preparation staff. There is now new equipment, a renovated floor and ceiling and mechanical upgrades.
Kallos provided $680,000 to fully fund the project in his first year in office, and an additional $350,000 in 2017 in response to higher than expected bids to see the project continue for a total investment of $1,030,000. His predecessor, Councilman Dan Garodnick and NYCHA had allocated approximately $1 million six years ago, but it remained unused.
“We must invest in our seniors and our youth in public housing and throughout our city,” Kallos said. “As seniors face food insecurity, they deserve a good hot meal from a kitchen equipped to serve them. New lighting will welcome youth to a bright place to learn and grow. Thank you to Isaacs Center’s Executive Director Greg Morris and his staff for their partnership in moving this project forward and always fighting for seniors and youth in public housing.”
Kallos told Our Town that with only four senior centers on the UES — Isaacs, Lenox Hill, Carter Burden and Robbins Plaza — it is imperative that all of them are properly funded and able to provide adequate care and food.
The council member explained that the center provides a safe haven and meals for the large public housing population in East Harlem. While Kallos was pleased his funding helped the facility, he noted that some senior centers are not being taken care of in the city.
“I have met with seniors from all over the borough and the city and they’re disturbed to learn about the rampant disinvestment in our seniors throughout the city,” he said.
Pakhi Kane, deputy executive director at Isaacs, feels the renovations will benefit the community.
“People are over the moon,” Kane said. “They would not have a hot meal if it was not for the center.”