Bay Ridge Cares – a local non-profit organization built on supporting those in need – cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Fort Hamilton Senior Center kitchen and lobby on Saturday, October 28, after weekends’ worth of hard work.
The Ridge-based 501(c)3 partnered with the New York City Parks Department to make the makeover happen.
The Fort Hamilton Senior Center, built in the 1960s, has over 1,200 members and is a lifeline for many neighborhood seniors. On a daily basis, anywhere from 150 to 200 members visit the center and engage in a wide range of fitness, social, recreational and arts activities, leaving the kitchen and lobby with decades’ worth of wear and tear.
The goal of the facelift, organizers said, was to transform the space into a welcoming environment reflective of its importance within the community.
“It really was a remarkable project,” said Karen Tadross, president of Bay Ridge Cares. “We started working with the Parks Department in January when we proposed, really, just some sort of a paint job.”
From there, Tadross said, the group was given grants by both Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Investors Bank for a little more than a fresh coat.
“The center is just so well used that many members thought making more improvements would affect so many people instead of just two or three,” she said. “From there, we started planning and meeting on a regular basis and little by little we were able to get the project together.”
Renovations included the installation of new appliances, such as a cooktop, sink, refrigerator and oven – the last of which, Tadross said, the center has never had before, as well as new countertops and lighting (the latter donated entirely by Lighting Design Associates in Staten Island). The center’s kitchen cabinets and walls were also all, of course, repainted.
For the project, the group enlisted the help of over 100 volunteers, ages 16 to 85, to help with sanding, painting and cleaning.
“It was such a great display of teamwork,” Tadross said, adding that she couldn’t think of a better city agency than Parks to work with on a project of this kind. “This is such an incredible example of public and private coming together to accomplish something big.”
And that’s not all.
Bay Ridge Cares will begin blueprinting phase two of the project in January which, Tadross told this paper, will focus on the exterior of the center.
“It will include a mural for the wall facing the park, which will double as a community project,” she added, noting that said mural will have a theme of “Bridging the Generations.” In its creation, she hopes to showcase the work of local artists, young and old. “That’s something that we think will be just wonderful, especially in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge.”
The Fort Hamilton Senior Center is located at 9941 Fort Hamilton Parkway.