By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BAY RIDGE — The community's senior citizens need a ride!
The Bay Ridge Center, a senior citizen center with hundreds of members, is asking for help in its efforts to raise money to purchase a vehicle to replace a van that was smashed in a car accident in March.
On June 11, leaders of the center launched their Emergency Van Campaign and asked residents and business owners to help them raise $60,000 for a new set of wheels.
The campaign launch took place outside the Bay Ridge Center on the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues.
On March 27, a stolen car crashed into the center’s van on the corner of Colonial Road and 78th Street, causing the van to overturn, police said. Seven senior citizens riding inside the van at the time were seriously injured, police said.
The accident is under investigation by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, the New York Daily News reported on June 11.
The accident, which received citywide news coverage, left the center in a bind, according to Marianne Nicolosi, the executive director.
“This was a tragedy in so many ways,” Nicolosi said. “Not only were there injuries to those on board, but it continues to impact seniors who have no other way of getting here to see their friends and enjoy the activities at the center.”
The 12-passenger van was used to transport senior citizens to the Bay Ridge Center for daylong programs of activities, classes, discussion groups and lunch.
Leaders hope that the money for a new van can be raised as quickly as possible, Nicolosi said, adding that the center’s membership is growing and that transportation is needed now more than ever.
The Bay Ridge Center, formerly known as the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults, is a not-for-profit, nonsectarian organization founded by Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1976. The center is funded by the New York City Department for the Aging.
The center provides weekday meals, educational programs, entertainment, lessons and trips for seniors. The facility also operates a Meals-on-Wheels program and an emergency food pantry.
For more information on the fundraising effort, call the Bay Ridge Center at (718) 748-0873, or visit www.bayridgecenter.org.