Nonprofit Reacts After Being Mistreated by Common Council

General Meeting Keynote: Please show your support for Carter Burden Network

Updated 27 weeks ago David Stone
CBN director Lisa Fernandez and community outreach manager Yulisa Santana consider presentations prior to the General Meeting.
CBN director Lisa Fernandez and community outreach manager Yulisa Santana consider presentations prior to the General Meeting.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

When the Carter Burden Network called a General Meeting to discuss "the future," in the shadow of the Common Council's abysmal mistreatment in recommending Public Purpose Funds, specific focus was not in doubt. How CBN would handle it was.

Heading up the meeting attended by a representative group of seniors and friends, CBN's local director Lisa Fernandez took the high road, first ticking off a list of programs made available to seniors. The grant request targeted adding more.

Groans filled the room when Fernandez told seniors that, after requesting $20,000 to increase programing at the Center, the Common Council recommended a chintzy $3,250, effectively a "slap in the face" of Roosevelt Island's elderly.

General Meeting Keynote: Please show your support for Carter Burden Network

Lacking access as well as advanced skillsets in today's digital environment, many seniors were not yet aware of how badly they'd been treated by the Common Council nor, it appeared, were they well aware of how the granting process works.

For the record, the Common Council recommends; RIOC makes a final decision on disbursements. 

See Why RIOC Must Throw Out Common Council Public Purpose Recommendations

The Common Council unanimously approved committee recommendations for allocation of slightly more than 2% of Public Purpose money for seniors. Seniors represent an estimated 20% of Island residents, many among the most in need of services and support.

Fernandez made clear that she was not criticizing any amount given to other nonprofits.

They should get more, if anything, she said. But what the Common Council recommended was "unequal" in it consideration of seniors.

No other group came near the brutal rejection of its request.

The amount approved by the Common Council would allow for a single program consultant for approximately one hour per week for the year. It equals about 1% of what the City, through the Department for the Aging, provides for minimum operations of a senior center.

CBN, essentially, asked the community to contribute a local share, roughly 5%, to increase services for seniors.

The Common Council shot them down.

One committee member told The Daily of being informed beforehand funding requests were reviewed that "CBN was taking advantage of the community."

Another vocal member, Frank Farance, absurdly accused CBN of profiting from DFTA funding. 

All expenditures of DFTA funds are strictly accounted for under City guidelines, and by definition, nonprofits like those applying for Public Purpose Funds are - though it may surprise Farance - simply not profitable.

In addition, an informal poll by The Daily showed that CBN representatives were able to recall only a single visit at the Senior Center by any Common Council PPF Committee member, and that involved Farance inquiring about CPR training. This suggests extensive ignorance about Senior Center activities.

Lack of knowledge among Common Council committee members and ill-informed, pre-existing prejudice against CBN, spurred by a competing, local organization, were critical factors contributing to an embarrassing snub of seniors from a group that's supposed to represent everyone equally.

Fernandez asked seniors and friends of the Senior Center to contact RIOC about what the programs mean for them personally, encouraging them to talk to community representatives on the RIOC Board - Michael Shinozaki, Howard Polivy and David Kraut - about their concerns and to attend next week's Board meeting where the Common Council's recommendations are expected to be considered in a show of support.

In other news...

In the spirit of seasonal giving, Fernandez asked that residents thoughtfully report concerns about others in need who, as shut-ins, might not otherwise get noticed.

She told the story of one such senior who, after a neighbor came to the Center in search of help, is now in the process of qualifying for meal service and caregiver visits. After a visit from CBN caseworker Fred Colero, accompanied by a PSD officer, this isolated senior is now on the radar and can get needed support.

Fernandez stressed that such contact would be made with every effort to consider the individual's right to privacy.


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