Stein Center could be model for Thai and Japanese senior centers

Jane Barry

Jane Barry

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy’s Stein Senior Center may end up being used as a model for similar centers to open in Thailand and Japan, Stein’s administrators said this week.

On Friday, September 25, the nonprofit center will be hosting Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s wife, Naraporn Chanocha and her retinue, to give a tour and explain Stein’s operations. Naraporn Chanocha is a former associate professor at Chulalongkorn University.

“They want to start services for seniors in Thailand,” said Stein Executive Director Jane Barry, “and they want to know how we do it. Specifically, in our role as an independent senior center.”

Although Stein, located at the Firefighters’ Building on East 23rd Street, is one of many senior centers to get some funding from the city for its meals and programming, it’s independent in that it’s not part of a larger organization like the Educational Alliance’s Sirovich Center.

The Thai guests, said Barry, “wanted to visit a small organization.”

Later in the month, the Stein Center will also play host to guests from the Center for Social Welfare Promotion & Examination, which is part of the Ministry of Health in Japan. That visit, scheduled for September 29 from 10 a.m. to noon, will be similar to the earlier one in that the organization will be explaining how it works. The entourage will include several reps from different nursing homes and specialized care centers for the elderly.

The Japanese guests, said Barry, “want to know ‘how we optimize operational strategy to maintain quality of life for elderly people.’ They read that we’re one of the best senior centers.” Barry said she doesn’t know where they read it, “but,” she quipped, “we are.”

The center will be open for its regular programming during both visits, only members may notice more security personnel at the building.

Meanwhile, for their local visitors, Barry added that there are a couple of new programs for the center’s senior members.

A class to help older people maintain their balance after a fall or for those hoping to prevent one is in the works and will be led by two certified trainers.

A book club that had previously met monthly at the Epiphany Public Library will be meeting at the Stein Center for the foreseeable future as the library undergoes some renovation work.

Programs at the center are open to all seniors and have a suggested donation of two dollars.

In an effort to reach out to seniors who are homebound or who just have a tough time getting around, Stein is applying for a grant for jitney service.

“There are a lot of homebound people who can’t even get to the bus stop,” said Barry.

The goal is to have a vehicle go around the neighborhood through the day to pick seniors up, in particular those with Alzheimer’s, and later bring them home. The grant, if successful, would go towards the purchase and maintenance of a vehicle, and the employment of a driver.

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