The senior center at the East Hills-based Sid Jacobson JCC is part of a program, Virtual Senior Center (VSC), one designed to assist homebound seniors in Nassau County.
The Long Island VSC, which is sponsored by The Selfhelp/Kimmel nonprofit partnership is an innovative program using technology to connect homebound elderly through live interactive classes and online activities to help thwart the deleterious effects of social isolation.
The purpose of VSC, said Roslyn resident Arthur Solomon Wyatt, is to help to fight isolation, one of the most significant threats to emotional and physical health as people age.
Long Island VSC was launched on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UUCSR) with a special preview for community groups and a media event, featuring a live class demonstration and offering the opportunity to speak with participating seniors as well as the program sponsors.
Planning for the expansion to Nassau County was made possible by a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation and implementation of the program by a $100,000 grant from the UUCSR in Manhasset and supporting grants from the Manhasset Community Fund’s Good Neighbor Grant Program and Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies.
The seniors’ residences are outfitted with a touch screen, VSC-enabled computer and assistive technology. The hardware is installed, training provided and technical support available so that the seniors can easily take part in live classes and connect with the Internet for a range of other options.
Long Island-based seniors will also have access to all VSC classes initiated by the NYC/Queens, Chicago, San Diego and Baltimore VSC partners, including special live events and discussions from the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, New York Historical Society, New York Hall of Science, weekly wellness classes, current events discussions, technology that can connect the seniors with friends and relatives, as well as courses on self-esteem, managing finances, computer skills, support groups, book and movie review classes, virtual vacations and celebrations for holidays.
“The Virtual Senior Center is an important tool in helping our homebound seniors participate in events that normally would be unavailable to them and helps to fight isolation, a significant threat to emotional and physical health of the elderly,” said Susan Berman, community organizer, UJA-Federation of New York’s Engage Jewish Service Corps Long Island/Queens. “The Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center is delighted to be part of the Virtual Senior Center events and help provide this important service to seniors.”
“Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center is delighted to be part of the Virtual Senior Center’s introduction to Long Island. Reducing the isolation of our homebound elderly can only be beneficial to their well being and helping them connect with friends, relatives, cultural and other events is certain to improve their lives,” added Donna Shulman, director of Adult and Senior Programs at the center.
“This is a wonderful idea,” said Jamy Kanas Santoro, Long Island’s first VSC participant. “Due to health reasons I couldn’t physically get out to go to places where I could enrich my mind. Now I am busy with interesting classes, meeting new friends.”
Santoro, who is an inspiration to many as a 10-year survivor of Stage 4 breast cancer, added that, “the VSC has the potential to become a great, great thing.”
Santoro enjoys a wide range of classes including special presentations by the Museum of Modern Art, music, and nutrition discussions through which participants enjoy swapping recipes.