BY GABRIELLE GUZ
Fourth and fifth graders from P.S. 58 and P.S. 29 visited with the disabled and elderly residents of the Cobble Hill Health Center on June 18, the culmination of an annual competition which brings together some of the youngest and oldest members of the community.
As part of the event, the students read their winning essays about what an important older person in their lives means to them to the appreciative audience.
According to Nini Rubin, the director of communications and development at the nonprofit skilled nursing facility, the health center provides short and long-term care, but a great percentage of patients are elderly and remain there for the rest of their lives, without any living relatives to take care of them.
The young people of the community are considered an essential resource that help these elderly patients refocus attention on positivity rather than on their chronic illnesses or disabilities. Rubin noted, too, that these young contestants’ parents, who encourage them to submit thoughtful essays, play a crucial role in the facility’s efforts to spread kindness to the elderly patients.
After receiving around 60 essay submissions to the Tell a Story Contest, at least half of which were hand-written, the residents at the health center convened to decide on the winners. Subsequently, the residents chose five winners and four runners-up.
The winners were Tini Allam and Rose Herper of P.S. 29, and Izi Welch, Joseph DePaolo and Sylvie Vanderbilt of P.S. 58. The runners up were P.S. 29’s Noelle Barone and Juliane Janssen, and Zac Wellington and Ava Bermudez from P.S. 58.
The award ceremony, which was held at the health center’s recreation room at 380 Henry St., honored the winners and runners-up on Tuesday morning. Each winner received a certificate along with a $50 gift card to the Cobble Hill Cinema, and every runner-up received a $25 gift card to the movie theater.
Donny Tuchman, CEO of Cobble Hill Health Center, and Tony Lewis, president of the center, spoke at the event. They were proud to witness their mission, which is to improve their patients’ quality of life, come to fruition.
Rubin added that such an event, at which the young and the elderly can interact and learn from each other, truly does “enhance [the elderly patients’] lives immeasurably when they have contact with people in the community, especially when they have contact with children.”
Housing at least 350 residents, the Cobble Hill Health Center, aims to provide personalized care, most notably for residents battling Alzheimer’s. Among its many services are a hemodialysis unit and a palliative care program. Home care is also offered to residents of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.