When the floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy swept across the area, Oceanside Senior Center President Charles Avella lost not one home, but two. Last week, after living with family for more than six months following Sandy, Charles finally returned to his house. Today, Charles celebrated another homecoming – a return to his second home, the Oceanside Senior Center.
Led by Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Senior Councilman Anthony Santino, Charles joined with fellow senior citizens to celebrate the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Oceanside Senior Center. Considered a home-away-from-home for more than 250 senior citizens, the Oceanside Senior Center suffered massive damage during Hurricane Sandy and was closed for substantial repair work. In addition to the center, 40 adjacent Town of Hempstead Senior Citizen Apartments were impacted by the storm.
As repairs were being made, Oceanside’s seniors met in unfamiliar quarters, in the Baldwin Senior Center.
“Hurricane Sandy wiped out homes, livelihoods and memories but it could not wash away the spirit and dedication that our seniors have for their beloved Oceanside Senior Center,” stated Murray. “With their commitment, a little town elbow grease, and, of course, a lot of TLC, the town is proud to welcome in a new wave of friendship, good times and lasting memories here at this newly improved facility.”
Renovations to the Oceanside Senior Center, which endured about 4 feet of floodwaters, included a new kitchen, walls, ceilings, cabinets, shelves, tables, chairs and furniture as well as repairs to the plumbing and electric systems. New kitchen appliances will be installed within the month.
Additionally, thanks to a generous donation from Elisa and Al Hinken of Inwood, Oceanside’s seniors will also enjoy a piano, pool table and ping-pong table. Lisa Stewart, the daughter of Oceanside Senior Center member Lee Menke, helped facilitate and fund the delivery and assembly of the items to the center.
“We have finally arrived at the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ to which we looked forward in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” said Santino. “Supervisor Kate Murray and I are proud to announce the end of a long road for our members, and the beginning of a bright future at the Oceanside Senior Center.”
With over 75 senior citizens utilizing the center on a daily basis, Oceanside’s facility offers a variety of nutrition services, transportation, educational presentations and social activities. The Oceanside Senior Center, one of 16 Hempstead Town Senior Centers, is also the home of the popular EASEL program (Experienced Art Students Enrichment League), a talented group of Hempstead Town’s artistically gifted senior citizens.
“People like Mr. Avella are a true testament to the dedication and sense of community found among the members and residents of this wonderful facility,” Murray said. “I am truly excited to say to Oceanside’s seniors ‘Welcome Home’.”