Message from Executive Director
“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” –Anne Frank
Welcome to the Encore Community Services website. As you explore this site, we hope you find what you are seeking: whether it’s a service for yourself, a friend or relative, an educational offering, information on services in the community, Food Stamp qualifications, housing options, nutrition or health information, an art class or cultural offerings, you’ll find a host of services and programs tailored for seniors. Be assured, the website can even answer the simple question of, “what’s for lunch on Tuesday at the Senior Center?”
From Encore’s first days in 1977, when approval was received from the NYC Dept. for the Aging to begin delivering meals to homebound seniors in the Times Square/Midtown/Westside Community…right down to today, Encore has never wavered from its mission to provide services and support to the elderly in need.
In those early years, while the newly formed Senior Center was in the process of being created, meals for the homebound elderly were catered by Horn & Hardart from its location on W. 57th St. These meals were delivered by a corps of volunteers, and today, volunteers remain an integral part of Encore.
The name “encore” was chosen since it seemed appropriate for this new hub of senior activity, located in the heart of the theater community at 239 West 49th Street, just off Broadway. The founders of Encore were intent on providing an “encore” to life for any older person who came through our doors. Also included were those seniors with limitations who were in need of meals and other services to remain at home. The “encore” continues right up to the present, as we continue to improve the lives of seniors residing in the corner of the world known as Times Square/Midtown/Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton.
Over the years, Encore’s growth has always occurred in response to an unmet need. Though sometimes filled with risk, that growth has been steady and consistent. Encore developed services to assist the homebound elderly who needed support to remain living in their own homes. These frail seniors were provided with hot, nutritionally-balanced meals delivered to their doors by Encore, as well as a range of social and health-related support programs. Recognizing the need for housing among seniors who came to the Center who were homeless with mental health issues, Encore developed specialized housing in 1988. The Encore 49 Residence at 220 W. 49th St. provides single room occupancy housing for 88 formerly homeless seniors. On-site mental health and social services enable residents to make the transition from street or shelter living to a home-like environment.
Encore’s goal of enhancing and increasing services to the elderly, particularly in the area of affordable housing, culminated in December 2000, when Encore was awarded a $13.1 million grant from HUD under Section 202 to construct new housing with 84 apartments for very low-income seniors. With this grant, coupled with other city, state and private grants, the Encore West Residence at 755 Tenth Ave., between 51st and 52nd Streets, was completed. In December 2007, the Encore West Residence hosted its official Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration. Once again, in March 2009, Encore expanded services to the homebound elderly when it was awarded a contract by the NYC Department for the Aging to provide meals to homebound elderly in an enlarged westside area of Manhattan: from 14th to 110th St., 8th Ave. to the River. In addition, Encore retained responsibility from 57th St. to 34th St., 8th to 5th Ave. This enriched program of home delivered meals also expanded the parameters of choice for the homebound, providing meal options: hot or frozen, regular or kosher. Encore now delivers 201,000 meals annually, including weekends, to an average of 800 homebound seniors.
All seniors have access to Social Services, a Friendly Visiting Program, Volunteer and Outreach Opportunities. Encore also offers a specialized program to assist seniors with “end-of-life” issues. Information is provided regarding health care proxy and DNR directives. Working closely with Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) seniors are enabled to consider their options, and to complete and file their final wishes regarding burial or other preferences, and estates and wills.
The Senior Center is now more active than ever, serving an average of 330+ seniors daily at two lunch seatings, and providing a host of activities, recreational events, off-site trips, health, wellness and educational offerings. The Center is handicapped accessible and has a vibrancy and excitement about it–which suits it well, given its location in the heart of Times Square and Midtown.
We invite you to come for a visit…to see and to feel Encore “in action.” Encore continues to be guided and inspired by the “wisdom of the elders.” That, along with a solid dose of hope, make the work of Encore worthwhile, especially on difficult days and in lean funding years. Encore continues into the future bearing in mind that what we do for the older members of our society, we’re really doing for ourselves…who will soon be old. From Encore’s mission statement, we gather further inspiration: “what we do comes from the heart, and the heart is the center of all.”
Here is a final thought from Mark Twain, who was on the right track when he said: “Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” Please, see for yourself: Come… visit…and support Encore…“Broadway’s Longest Running Act of Loving Care since 1977.”