Elder care on the is looking up this week, and a face familiar to many residents of the East End showed up at the Family Preservation Center.
Suffolk County Legislator , I-Montauk, stopped by to congratulate the Shinnecock seniors on some new acquisitions. The legislator also posed for a few pictures and chatted amicably with tribal leaders, Trustee Chairman Randy King and Trustee Fred Bess.
Up until Monday, taking lunch at the Shinnecock Senior Nutrition Program posed a bit of a hazard. Some of the dining tables in the Family Preservation Center where meals are served were in disrepair, some with wobbly tops and legs. The folding chairs the seniors sit in to eat have also seen better days, and spilled meals and beverages were not unusual occurrences. Things could have gotten worse, but now the program has six brand new tables.
“New tables were a necessity,” explained Karen Torrence, the program director. “Thank God for the tables.”
New elder-safe chairs are also needed, and it is the hope of both the director and her clients that they too, will be acquired eventually.
The program is the recipient of a Native American Caregiver Support Program grant as part of the Older Americans Act. The Caregiver Support Program will give Elders the chance to receive care in their homes, as opposed to an outside facility.
On Tuesday, 14 Elders and guests came out to eat a nutritious meal, greet the county legislator, and enjoy each other’s company. Those too frail to travel to the center have their meals delivered to their homes. On regular days, the seniors can also watch television, read, whip up a heated game of pinochle, and enjoy live entertainment, such as David Bunn Martine, artist and curator of the , coming in and switching hats to pound out a few classical tunes on the piano.
Also soon brightening the day for the Elders is the Cultural Enrichment Program, headed up by Josephine Smith. With the 2011 Powwow only five months away, Smith will be assisting the seniors and tribal members of all ages. The plan is to help with repairing dance feathers, making new or revamping old regalia, buckskin and cloth. The concept is "everybody helping everybody else."
Shinnecock Elders will be front and center for the Grand Entry at the annual Shinnecock Labor Day Weekend Powwow, as the tribe celebrates becoming the 565th federally recognized tribe on October 1, 2010.