A senior citizens program in Cohoes was established on September 22, 1967, instituted with a $6000 check from the Albany Catholic Diocese. Rev. Gregory Weider, assistant pastor of St. Agnes Church in Cohoes, was active in creating the Cohoes Neighborhood Center and the Cohoes Community Center. He co-founded the Neighborhood Center with Rev. George F. O'Brien of Troy Catholic Charities, and he was a member of the Cohoes Opportunity for Economic Development (COED), which coordinated various anti-poverty agencies in the city. He was secretary of the Economic Opportunity Commission and chairman of the Housing Environmental Research and Development Center (HERD), a program created to provide senior citizens with information, referral and counseling services, and encouragement for them to become involved in community programs offering recreational, social, educational and cultural activities.
A library was opened to provide access to the more than 2000 books that were donated to the Senior Citizens Center. The Center was housed at the Cohoes Neighborhood Center, located in the Silliman Memorial Presbyterian Church. Twenty-two young women! members of Keveny Academy's senior class, volunteered to assist with the senior citizen's programs, spending several hours per week serving as receptionists, coordinating entertainment and activities for seniors, telephoning and visiting those unable to visit the center, and writing and editing the newsletter the Senior Gazette. Activities offered for seniors included day trips to the Catskills and Vermont, holiday parties, bowling leagues, talent shows, and a choral group that would later be known as the Silvertops. The Cohoes Senior Citizens Orchestra was formed in 1975.
The original players were: Leonard Ouimet - drums, Ed Potvin violin, Jake Kowalski - mandolin! Nelson Willsey - washtub. John Bouchard! the orchestra director played the accordion.
In 1969, ground was broken for the Jay McDonald Towers; the highrise apartment building for senior citizens would be completed in the summer of 1972. By November of that year, membership in the Cohoes Senior Center exceeded 2000. The center received support from the City of Cohoes, Cohoes Model Cities Program, New York State Office for the Aging, Albany County, and United Way of the Mohawk-Hudson Area. In December 1974, home delivery of meals to seniors (which would be called the "Meals on Wheels" program) was started. The Senior Center moved in July 1974 from 96 Mohawk Street to 15 Seneca Street, the location of the former St. Bernard's Convent (shown here).
Architectural plans for a new Senior Center building, created by architects Einhorn and Yaffee, were reviewed in 1975, and the next year ground was broken on a site adjacent to McDonald Towers, just north of the intersection of Remsen and Cayuga Streets. More than five hundred fifty people donated to the fund drive for the building. Cayuga Plaza, where the new senior center was located, was formally dedicated by Mayor Ronald Canestrari in November 1977. The center itself officially opened in September 1978, with Michael Cooley as executive director. Cooley retired as director in 2007 and Keith Hornbrook was appointed the new
The Senior Center, now called the Cohoes Multi-Service Senior Citizen Center, continues to be a vital organization in the community, providing meals! activities, and various services for the city's older residents. Membership is open to anyone over the age of 60; those between 50 and 60 can participate in center activities that do not have state or federal age requirements. Among the center's activities are bingo, AARP driving classes, Tai Chi, swimming, exercise classes, bowling, ceramics, and bridge. Services include transportation, caregiver support, hearing and blood pressure clinics, and assistance with social services including Legal Aid, Medicaid! and food stamps. The center also encourages senior citizens to be active members of their community and participate in outreach programs at nursing homes. With all of these endeavors, the center clearly seeks to fulfill its mission "To promote the dignity of older adults living in the community and to provide programs and services needed to support their living healthy and productive lives."
For more information;
Cohoes Multi-Service Senior Citizen Center, Inc.
10 Cayuga Plaza
Cohoes, NY 12047
(518) 235-2420 * Fax: (518) 235-1624
Thanks to Myrtle Stott for providing information used in this article and the Spindle City Historical Society.