Members of the Bay Ridge Center have got a brand new set of hot wheels.
Thanks to a $65,000 grant from New York State obtained by state Sen. Marty Golden, the center, a program serving senior citizens, was able to buy a new wheelchair accessible van to transport its less mobile members to doctors’ appointments, shopping excursion, and to and from home.
The new van was unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony that took place in from of the center on Ovington Avenue on Thursday.
The van isn’t a luxury, according to Golden and the center’s administrators.
The previous van, a 16-seat Ford used by the center was totaled in a 2012 accident on a Bay Ridge street that left 11 people injured, including several senior citizens who were riding in the vehicle at the time.
The accident took place on Colonial Road near 78th Street, according to DNA Info, which reported that the crash took place on Colonial Road at 78th Street on March 26, 2012, when the van collided with a jeep. The impact of the collision caused the van to overturn with the seniors inside.
Miraculously, while the injuries were deemed to be serious, none was life threatening.
The same could not be said of the van, however.
The Bay Ridge Center has spent the past two years making a concerted effort to raise the $65,000 necessary to purchase a wheelchair accessible van. The New York Daily News reported on the fundraising effort that included an outreach to 1,200 Bay Ridge residents, asking them to donate toward the effort to replace the van. The center also hosted a dinner that raised $1,000, the News reported.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) delivered the good news a few days ago – that he had gotten the state to agree to provide the grant.
“This van will assist our seniors who need assistance getting to the center, as well allow them the opportunity to travel within our community, go on trips, and more. I look forward to seeing these new wheels on our streets and avenues, and our seniors enjoying life,” Golden said at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “The moment I heard of the collision, my first thought was to make sure that everyone was okay. As soon as I knew that there were no major injuries, my mind immediately turned to thinking of how I could help the Center replace this van."
Marianne Nicolosi, executive director of the Bay Ridge Center, said she and the center’s members are grateful for the new van. “We are extremely grateful to Senator Golden and all those who donated funds to help us obtain this vehicle,” she said.
“Bay Ridge is a community that has a tradition of supporting our seniors. This bus, in addition to helping bring seniors with mobility challenges to the center and to local appointments throughout the neighborhood, will also allow our older adults to resume making trips to cultural events and activities throughout the city once again,” Nicolosi said.
The Bay Ridge Center, formerly known as the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults, was founded in 1976 by Pastor Darrell Helmers of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and is housed in the basement of the church at the corner of Ovington and Fourth Avenues.
The facility serves more than 6,000 senior citizens a year by providing hot lunches, health screenings and flu shots, exercise classes, bingo, and group trips to casinos, museums, and sporting events. The center also has a Meals-on-Wheels program, delivering hot, nutritious meals to the homebound elderly.