Today is National Senior Citizens Day, which is dedicated to spending time, appreciating and volunteering to support the elderly. Though there are no events specifically tailored for the day, both Verona and Cedar Grove’s senior citizen clubs have been preparing for this upcoming year’s programs.
During the summer months of July and August, both organizations are inactive and therefore don’t celebrate the holiday as a club. But having recently inducted new officers this summer, the clubs claim to have one similar goal in mind: to keep their meetings fresh and captivating for their members.
“I’ve been a member of the club for two and a half years and I hope that in our meetings, we can hold the members’ interest,” said current Verona Senior Citizens Club President Josephine Veech in a phone interview with the Times.
In Verona, Senior Coordinator Marisa Landolfi said that although there are new officers, she has a bulk of the programs and events for the year already in place.
“I run senior programs that we have. But we also have the separate organization, and I work with them to bring them programs,” Landolfi said.
Programs for the Verona Senior Citizens Club consist of exercise classes, game days, luncheons, and the popular free weekly bus services to the Willowbrook Mall and Foodtown and ShopRite supermarkets, according to Landolfi.
“The [club’s] whole existence is to bring education to the seniors. Care centers and speakers come in to educate them on cooking for one person, summer safety, taking care of their finances and things like facing dementia,” Landolfi said.
In true Senior Citizens Day form, Verona’s H.B. Whitehorne Middle School students volunteer at an Introduction to Technology class twice a year for the seniors. “They tell them how to run their cameras, their laptops, their cell phones. They teach them how to send text messages to their grandkids. Send emails, pay bills online, and so on,” Landolfi said.
Verona also has V!BE, a recreational group for active adults over the age of 50. V!BE features cooking classes, dinners and trips to wineries throughout the year. All events and activities for Verona seniors are held at the township’s community center.
In Cedar Grove, however, the senior’s meeting and event space was destroyed during last winter’s snow pile up on the roof of the VFW building on Pompton Avenue. But the group is still going strong.
“This June is the Cedar Grove Senior Citizens Club 50-year anniversary,” said the club’s Secretary Mary Basile. Basile has been a club officer for more than a decade – first as vice president, then president, and now secretary.
“It was a bad year with the snow and our acting president at the time [Mafalda Centurrina] fell last November and passed this May,” Basile said, adding that with the VFW closing and the weather, “it was hard.”
The club now has a new meeting place at Victor’s Chateau in Little Falls. ” … Part of it is in Cedar Grove, which is nice,” Basile said. With a new place and new board, Basile said club dues are now $10 a year, $5 more than usual.
“You’d be surprised at what we can do with our money. We don’t fundraise. We are a social club, and we want to have fun,” Basile said.
The Cedar Grove club sponsors speakers, bingo nights, luncheons and more. “We like to have an active curriculum going,” Basile said.
Both clubs meet between September and June each year.
Verona’s club, with a membership of 90 plus people, has its meetings on the first and third Wednesday of every month. While in Cedar Grove, with a turnout of up to 75 people, the club has its meetings the second and fourth Thursday of every month.
“We have a good group. We’re a pretty active group. And we’d like to keep it that way,” Veech said.
And with a loaded year behind them, Cedar Grove seniors are headed towards a new beginning.
“We’re going to start off with a good year and I hope that it follows through. Especially if everybody cooperates and we get the support of the members,” Cedar Grove Senior Citizens Club President Jeanette Palumbo said.