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Speaker Quinn thanks JASA for fighting cuts

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Had Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts been enacted, the JASA Senior Center, at 86-25 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Holliswood, would have had to close its doors.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) visited the senior center last week to thank the center’s members for coming out to news conferences and rallies that helped the center remain open.

Quinn said Bloomberg’s budget proposal included a 25 percent cut to the city Department for the Aging’s operating budget, although the Council restored the budget in the deal it made two months ago.

“If those cuts had gone through, it would have meant a lot of senior centers would have closed in Queens and other boroughs,” Quinn said.

The seniors made signs thanking Quinn and Weprin “for keeping our center alive.”

“We were about to start packing,” said Elaine Rockoff, director of community-based programs for the Jewish Association for Services of the Aged, which runs the Holliswood senior center. “This center would have closed.”

Weprin gave credit to Quinn for fighting for the restoration in funding.

“The truth is without Speaker Quinn, none of us would be here today,” he told the seniors.

Weprin said the center relies on City Council funding to provide kosher meals and noted the facility is one of the few in Queens that provides kosher offerings.

“This was not an easy thing to do, but I thank God for Christine Quinn and thank God for what she did,” said Weprin, who noted that his father, the late state Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, was a founding member of the Young Israel of Holliswood, which houses the senior center.

Quinn said the $21 million in proposed cuts to Aging’s budget would have been devastating.

“Some cuts are simply too deep, will cause damage that you can’t rebound from,” she said.

Ethel Zaremba of Bayside said she comes to the center for exercise and dancing and to meet new friends.

“It’s a place to spend a couple hours instead of being home by yourself talking to nobody,” she said. “It has become a home away from home.”

Bayside resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Fogel, 81, has been visiting the center for 16 years.

“It’s close by, it’s a kosher place,” she said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 11:59 am, October 12, 2011
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