Bay Ridge Center gets new passenger van to aid seniors

BAY RIDGE — It was a beautiful warm and sunny afternoon on Tuesday, Sept. 24 as the Bay Ridge Center invited guests to the christening of its newly donated passenger van to aid the center’s seniors.

The van is an essential addition to the center as it allows for additional seniors to be picked up and brought to the center and then taken back home. It also affords them the opportunity to stay active and enjoy weekly outings to various destinations.

The Bay Ridge Center, contracted by the New York City Department for the Aging, serves thousands of adults aged 60 years and older in Bay Ridge and surrounding neighborhoods. The center provides hot meals, exercise classes, trips, seminars and recreational activities. It is the largest and most active program serving older adults in southwest Brooklyn.

The center’s Meals on Wheels program currently delivers more than 675 meals a day, seven days a week, to more than 600 homebound seniors in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend.

“It’s wonderful that we have this new vehicle so that we can transport more folks over the age of 75. More and more people need assistance getting back and forth to the center, to medical appointments and this will really help us help them,” Bay Ridge Center Executive Director Marianne Nicolosi told this paper.

The center now has three vans in its fleet including the new E-350 Super Duty van that holds 14 passengers.

“By having this new van, we can accommodate even more seniors for our Wednesday trips where we go in state, out of state, to places like the Westchester Dinner Theater, the Staaten on Staten Island, Aqueduct Racetrack, as well as shopping trips to outlet malls in New Jersey,” said Todd Fliedner, the center’s deputy executive director.

“We’re thrilled to be introducing this new van into our fleet because it will allow us to serve even more seniors and their transportation needs,” he added.

Bay Ridge Center van driver Bill Gesslein helps passengers out of the van.

Among those attending the event were the Rev. Paul Knudsen, pastor of the Bethlehem Evangelist Lutheran Church; former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who set the wheels in motion for the van while he was still in office, and current City Councilmember Justin Brannan who officially presented the van to the center.

“This is great. There’s nothing more important than supporting the seniors in our neighborhood, and this is a long time coming,” Brannan told this paper. “This is really one of our most popular centers and having another van allows for more trips and more activities for the seniors. It’s just something to give back to those who’ve given so much to us.”

Members of the Bay Ridge Center, elected officials and community leaders at the new van christening.

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