Proposes Change From Common Council recommendations

Public Purpose Fund Update: Roosevelt Island Seniors Spoke, RIOC Listened

Updated 23 weeks ago David Stone
Mindfulness Meditation with Prafulla is a popular Senior Center program that fills the room on Monday mornings.
Mindfulness Meditation with Prafulla is a popular Senior Center program that fills the room on Monday mornings.
Photo by Yulisa Santana

According to materials made public in advance of tomorrow's December full board meeting, RIOC will  vote on Public Purpose Fund allocations that undo what looks like the last major miscue of RIRA's Jeff Escobar era, reversing a slap in the face of our seniors by the Common Council he led.

In a memo to RIOC's Board, President/CEO Susan Rosenthal recommends approval of $10,588 as a grant to the Carter Burden Network, managers of the Roosevelt Island Senior Center and primary provider of services for the elderly here.

CBN requested $20,000 to pay consultants for increased exercise, computer training and other programs. A Common Council committee scorned their appeal, recommending a paltry $3,250. 

Seniors and their supporters were angered.

In her memo, Rosenthal acknowledged CBN Executive Director Bill Dionne's argument that "...seniors account for 25% of the Island’s community and that CBN’s budget for instructor-led programming is severely underfunded."

August, 2017, Susan Rosenthal boarded before daybreak to be the first person to arrive for work on Roosevelt Island by ferry.
August, 2017, Susan Rosenthal boarded before daybreak to be the first person to arrive for work on Roosevelt Island by ferry.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"Only 5% of their budget of $50,120 for these classes is funded by NYC Department for the Aging. Absent sufficient Public Purpose funds, CBN would be adversely affected in its ability to provide this much needed programming."

Rosenthal came up with a unique solution.

"We recommend that the Board modify RIRA’s recommendations to all other applicants at a modest rate of 5% and increase CBN’s award by that amount."

While the resulting total grant of $10,588 is not ideal, it represents a step forward and an eye-opening effort by RIOC to listen to residents.

The Carter Burden Network "is pleased that Susan Rosenthal has made a recommendation that would ensure we can afford to provide the type of quality programming that Roosevelt Island’s seniors need and deserve," Dionne told The Daily. 

It's widely believed that the Common Council's snub of CBN's request was politically motivated, conditioned by actions from another local organization. Whatever the reason, Rosenthal was having none of it.

Her recommendation represents a wise and objective response to a threat aimed at seniors.

Because RIOC's staff and Board normally work out details of items like this in discussions prior to their landing on the monthly agenda, with an eye toward consensus, it's expected that Rosenthal's recommendation will be passed in a public vote.

CBN's Dionne offered the following statement, late this afternoon:

The Carter Burden Network is pleased that Susan Rosenthal has made a recommendation that would ensure we can afford to provide the type of quality programming that Roosevelt Island’s seniors need and deserve. This proposed funding will support 340 hours of programming at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center (RISC). Such programming will include the hiring of instructors to teach in our newly opened sewing lab, to conduct exercise classes and to diversify our arts programs. Our agency is committed to providing quality services to seniors who attend RISC and toward that end we seek funding that allows us to do that. I do want to make note of the fact that participation in our daily luncheon meals program has doubled since we assumed sponsorship of RISC.

We very much appreciate the willingness of the RIOC board to consider the recommendation made by Susan Rosenthal regarding increased grant support to our senior center.

I know I speak for everyone at CBN when I tell you that we look forward to another year serving the Roosevelt Island community.

 

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