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Updates and Media Mentions

A senior center takes on a new direction

Manhattan Times Community News
Written by Laura Gabby
Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ilana Dunner has taken the reins as new Executive Director
at Riverstone Senior Life Services, after the 23-year tenure
of Rebecca Carel. "We're looking forward to bringing more
and more people into the center," says Dunner.

Ilana Dunner has taken the reins as new Executive Director at Riverstone Senior Life Services, formerly Fort Washington Houses Services for the Elderly.

The usual programming has continued, and a plan for new services and programming is just beginning to take shape.

“I’m starting to identify some gaps in services we may be able to provide,” said Dunner of her plans for the direction of the senior services center. “We’re going to be able to have more programming here, health and recreation programming for sure.”

Dunner also plans to introduce a diabetes intervention to address the high incidence of diabetes in the neighborhood. The intervention will include educational programs and services.

“We’re going to have much more of a robust programming starting in July,” said Dunner.

Dunner comes to Riverstone with 15 years of experience and directorships with JASA, the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged. While working at JASA, Dunner also held an adjunct professorship at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Dunner has stayed on at the School of Social Work as a student advisor.

“It was a great opportunity, coming from a very large agency to a small one,” said Dunner.

Some of the differences between her last larger agency and the new smaller one?

At the larger organization, there were more support services.

However, the smaller organization has provided more opportunities for learning.

“It’s more hands-on here,” said Dunner. “Which is great because you really get firsthand experience of what’s going on.”

Currently, the center provides over 700 people services over the course of a year. On a daily basis, about 110 people come in and out of the services center.

Dunner thinks those numbers can grow.

“We’re looking forward to bringing more and more people into the center, and are open to suggestions,” said Dunner.

Dunner said Riverstone is looking for more volunteers to come help out. She would like to see artists and people with special talents they can teach older adults come run a class.

“We could give an artist space in exchange for classes,” said Dunner.

Some of the highlights of the current services provided include Riverstone’s Memory Center, and caregiver support groups.

The Memory Center has been in operation for years, but was renovated in April 2010 and is state-of-the-art.

The senior services center, which sits at 99 Fort Washington and overlooks the Hudson from the back of the building, was started in 1985 to provide services for seniors in a new New York City Housing Authority building. Community activists founded the organization.

Dunner succeeds Rebecca Carel, who served as Executive Director for over 23 years and oversaw the shift of the organization from a center where seniors came for lunch and activities to a full-fledged service agency.

“The mission of all these kinds of agencies are to help people live home as long as possible. We know most people do not want to be going to a nursing home,” said Dunner.

“I’m very pleased to be here to put my own imprint on providing services.”