Naraporn Chan-ocha (second to right) with City Council Member Rosie Mendez, Stein Center Deputy Director Bob Doxsey and Executive Director Jane Barry (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Stein Senior Center on East 23rd Street last Friday played host to a delegation from Thailand, led by Naraporn Chan-ocha, the wife of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. The group was there to learn about what makes the center operate successfully and members of the delegation noted that what was most impressive about Stein, and differentiated it from the few senior centers in Thailand, is how active the seniors were.
“The activities that they can try are impressive,” Chan-ocha, a former English professor at Chulalongkorn University, said. “They help the seniors participate and learn about social media, and they get to do dancing and singing.”
Not surprisingly, Stein Center Executive Director Jane Barry agreed.
“This is not the Bingo crowd, this isn’t the Atlantic City crowd, they’re the Shakespeare crowd,” she said. “Another one of the great programs is the opera appreciation. There are also art history and computer classes. We keep them active.”
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.