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Williamsburg Seniors Celebrate 40-Year-Old Refuge's Survival

By Meredith Hoffman | June 26, 2013 1:26pm | Updated on June 26, 2013 1:38pm
 Swinging Sixties Senior Center has served clients the past 40 years.
Swinging Sixties Seniors
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WILLIAMSBURG — When they learned their only refuge and social hub would be shuttering this year, Rose Palazzo and Mildred Schiulaz kept coming to play cards and have lunch each day, as they'd done the past 15 years. But the two women couldn't shake their dread — and neither could the dozens of seniors who rely on the 40-year-old center.

"This is the only activity we have," said Palazzo, 80, of the Swinging Sixties Senior Center. "Other than that we're shut-ins."

But now the closeknit community is sighing in relief, after the City Council voted to restore planned cuts to senior centers and daycare programs. The vote means Swinging Sixties and its upstairs Small World Daycare Center will remain open, at least through the end of this fiscal year.

"We weren't sure until we got the call yesterday," said Swinging Sixties' director Tilly Tarantino, 81, who for the past 40 years has led the center that also hosts Williamsburg and Greenpoint's Community Board 1 monthly meetings. "

The Ainslie Street hub, whose members petitioned this fall to keep the center open, has already shrunk as more young people have moved into new buildings and condos, Tarantino said, and the senior population has diminished.

But to longtime visitors of the space — which provides social services, food, bingo and a sense of family — the center is a vital resource.

"This is a lifeline," said Nancy Carroll, 75, who's used the refuge daily the past 15 years. "We were all really downhearted...Now we have light. I love coming here."

Elected officials will visit the center July 1 to formally announce the survival of the center.