• This week I volunteered at the Park Slope YMCA, where hundreds of people displaced from their homes by Hurricane Sandy were being housed temporarily.

    The vast majority were senior citizens displaced from independent, Assisted Living and nursing facilities in Queens and Long Island. They are sleeping on cots layered with City of New York issued blankets and bundles of clothing. There are no showers. Many of them have now been there for going on 5 days.

    I asked some of them about their homes, how long they’d been there and how they got there. Some cited breakdowns and financial crises, others described calmer life transitions.

    One 80 year old woman mentioned her family in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I asked if they knew she was there. How would they, she asked? I asked if they might be worrying about her. She shook her head no insistently. ‘Nobody worry about nobody else anymore. Everyone just surviving.’

    Low income Senior Housing in NYC is already stretched beyond thin with massive waitlists. It’s unclear how long it will take to restore or rebuild the damaged facilities these seniors were evacuated from. No one really knows long it will take these displaced seniors to find their way home.

    Yet at the YMCA, they wait with astounding calm and patience.

    Most of these men and women have hit rock bottom in their lives. They know that while their situation may look dire to the flock of young volunteers attending to them, a roof over their heads, a mattress to sleep on and three meals a day isn’t so bad.

    While they’re uncomfortable and scared, they’re surviving.

    They entertain themselves, socialize and wait for the next meal. They accept their current reality and make a momentary home, and offer us all a life lesson.

    This entry was posted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 am and is filed under Stories & Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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