Curious to learn more about Sunnyside Community Services? Kenneth Lauritzen, Division Director of Senior Services, Josue Monterroso, the Senior Center Director, and Kate Donohue, Manager of Institutional Giving, took time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions about SCS and its relationship with the CSA.
What is the mission of Sunnyside Community Services?
The mission of Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) is to strengthen our community by providing a continuum of vital services and activities that enrich the lives of individuals of all ages.
When members aren’t able to pick up their shares, the CSA donates the food to SCS. What does SCS do with the veggies, fruit, and specialty products donated by Sunnyside CSA?**
SCS includes the produce donated by Sunnyside CSA in the meals served at our Center for Active Older Adults. Our on-site kitchen serves approximately 200 hot, nutritionally balanced meals each day. Ensuring that seniors’ diets include fresh produce is a priority in providing nutritional services, and we are very grateful to the CSA for this assistance.
How does the produce donation positively impact residents?
Many of our senior center members have incomes below the federal poverty level, and so are at risk for nutritional insecurity. The meals we serve help to mitigate that risk. Including fresh, locally grown produce helps us to enhance the taste and nutritional content of these meals.
What daily programs and services does SCS provide?
SCS provides a broad range of human services that meet the needs of our community’s children, youth, adults, and seniors. Our holistic approach to service delivery and our integrated service model enable us to meet the needs of our community’s families and to adapt to our community’s changing needs.
Our programs for youth and families are designed to help the young people of a diverse, predominantly immigrant and low income population to overcome barriers to academic and career success. We operate a free Pre-Kindergarten Program, two after-school programs at local elementary schools, and a Beacon Community Center that serves middle school students – each of which helps students build the skills that are critical to educational achievement and long-term success. Our workforce readiness program, Grounded and Positioned for Success (GPS), connects youth with internships either in a local business or within our agency, and our College Readiness Program helps under-served students prepare to apply for and succeed in college.
Our Home Health Aide Training Program connects local job seekers to employment opportunities in the growing field of home care. The program offers participants training and certification as a licensed home health aide, and places program graduates in employment with one of our two affiliate home care agencies. These agencies serve approximately 1,700 homebound seniors in four of the five boroughs of New York City, providing over 54,000 hours of care each week.
Our programs serving seniors work to help the older members of our community to stay healthy and independent as they age. Our senior center, the Center for Active Older Adults, currently has approximately 2,500 active members, 44% of whom have income below the federal poverty level. The center operates a program of over thirty arts, educational, and recreational activities, and has a Case Assistance counselor on site to provide assistance with the enrollment process for benefits and entitlements.
SCS Case Managers coordinate services for frail, homebound seniors such as meal deliveries, home care, transportation, and more. We provide Geriatric Mental Health counseling services to 300 seniors per year. Our social Adult Day Services Program offers therapeutic care to seniors who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments. The Friendly Visitor program connects homebound seniors with volunteers who commit to a weekly visit. Pet Pals, a part of the Friendly Visitor Program, helps seniors to care for their pets.
SCS also operates a Care Transitions Program in partnership with two local hospitals to support seniors who are being discharged and help them avoid unnecessary re-hospitalization. As the lead agency in the Western Queens Caregivers Network, SCS provides a range of respite opportunities and skills trainings designed to reduce the strain that family caregivers experience in their roles.
How many people does SCS reach on a yearly basis?
SCS reaches 14,000 individuals each year, including children, youth, adults, and seniors.
Describe SCS’ vision for how it plans to serve the community in the next 3-5 years.
Over the next few years, SCS plans to continue building our senior services to meet the needs of a growing senior population. Recent developments in senior services include ADventures, a collaboration between our social Adult Day and Caregivers Programs, which operates day trips to New York City’s many arts and cultural institutions that enable ailing seniors and the loved ones who care for them to spend quality time together in a relaxed, enjoyable setting. We aim also to continue meeting the emerging needs of our community’s youth. Recently, we began offering a free Pre-Kindergarten Program, Sunnyside Up Pre-K, which provides our community with access to the many benefits of quality early childhood education.
**Estimated dollar value of food donations from the CSA to SCS was $6,000.