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Celebrating Brooklyn Seniors and Their Champions

Dr. Jocelynne Rainey

Two senior adults, a joyful bald man and a smiling woman in a gray beanie, sit at a table holding brochures, surrounded by people in a seminar room.
Brooklyn Org community gathering for older adults

Brooklyn is home to nearly half a million residents over age 65, who are just as likely as any of us to be biking around the park, picking up pickleball, or doing the electric slide at the annual block party — reminding us that age is just a number.

And Brooklyn, at large, is striving to become a place where older adults can safely and comfortably age in place, staying in their own homes and close to their community for as long as possible.

But what’s not so apparent — and often hidden behind closed doors — is the growing needs among older adults in our borough. With persistently high cost-of-living, many older adults on a fixed income are facing tough choices on how to pay for basic necessities such as food and medicine. In fact, they account for 27% of food bank visitors across New York City.

May is Older Americans Month, which is an opportunity to salute and honor seniors for their contributions to our borough, highlight issues affecting them, and show gratitude to a major partner that makes our support of Brooklyn’s older adults possible.

Founded in 2019 as an endowed fund through proceeds from the sale of the CABS Nursing Home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the CABS Community Foundation at Brooklyn Org provides over $500,000 each year toward our grantmaking for older adults.


“CABS has a long history of providing home care and senior living services and partnering with other community organizations to provide care to our seniors. It was unfortunate that our senior living center in Brooklyn had to close, but through this partnership with Brooklyn Org, we can ensure the resources will support solutions to the challenges our older adults face daily, from housing and healthcare to transportation and isolation.”

CABS Community Foundation founding Fund Advisor Bill Persinek

Brooklyn Org grants have backed local nonprofits as wide-ranging as Bridge Street Development Corp. and Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP), with a focus on care-centered organizations that provide holistic health, housing, social, and legal services to older adults while also preserving their self determination and decision-making.

Many of these organization’s don’t just focus on older adults. Serving Brooklyn since 1971, today Heights and Hills also makes sure to prioritize caregivers.

“In addition to providing basic necessities, we are educating people about what a caregiver is,” says Carrie Zwiebel Bloss, Executive Director of Heights and Hills. “You know when you become a parent, but it’s not always obvious that you’re a caregiver. Do you help with medical appointments, meal prep, or household maintenance, for example? Asking these types of questions gets people to think, ‘Oh yeah, I am a caregiver.’ Then the goal is to get people to realize they can get support. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a caring or loving person. But it takes a village.”

Adults and children engaging in craft activities at tables in a brightly lit community center.
Heights and Hills volunteers

Heights and Hills provides comprehensive programs, including case management, caregiver support, the Park Slope Center for Aging, and volunteer programs.

Brooklyn Org recently awarded Heights and Hills a grant for three years. “This grant has been indispensable to our volunteer program,” says Bloss. “We have a multigenerational volunteer program, which includes preschoolers who come into the Center to visit the members, an intergenerational initiative for students in grades 1 through 8, and our Friendly Visitors who are aged 29 to 35, on average.”

"Even though we have people willing to lend a hand, we still need funds to purchase food and some of the other basics that older adults and their caregivers may need. We’re thankful that Brooklyn Org is building bridges for us to connect with other nonprofit organizations, to bring more older adults from across our borough to their exceptional offerings, and to expand the continuum of care for Brooklyn’s communities.”

Carrie Zwiebel Bloss, Executive Director, Heights and Hills

Partners like the CABS Community Foundation and Heights and Hills are the backbone of Brooklyn Org.

Together, we are supporting the people who built our neighborhoods, who have been living here for decades, and the immigrants who have moved to our communities and contribute so much. Through these programs, our goal is to meet the needs of Brooklynites today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.

Nonprofits Serving Seniors: Apply today for BKO Funding!

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