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St. Clare’s Senior Center Reopens

St. Clare Senior Center is reopening after a year of inactivity following the passing of its long-time director.

Originally called the St. Clare’s Clarion Club, the newly christened St. Clare’s Senior Center reopened on Thursday, March 31 in the basement hall of St. Clare’s Church, under the leadership of new director Debra Ann Jaffee.

Despite the inclement weather, 60 seniors arrived to play bingo, have a meal, and socialize, which was far beyond the expectations that Jaffee had for the reopened club.

“It had been inactive for about a year since the former director passed, and I was expecting 10 to 12 people to show on the first day because of the weather,” Jaffee said. “I have been involved in the community and I felt the need for another senior center to be opened, because we needed more activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I went to Fr. Richard Guarnieri and asked him if we could reopen.”

With the support of Fr. Guarnieri, which she termed as both a blessing and a gift, Jaffee was able to reopen the center, which has a long history under its former director, Perri Rebecchi.

Some of the activities that will be available are bingo, card games, and knitting for seniors every Thursday, from noon to 3 p.m. On alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays, shopping trips will be made to Target and other outlets like the Christmas Tree Store, as well as to museums and cultural institutions like Wave Hill and museums that celebrate Jewish history, Jaffee said.

“I have been working with seniors since I began volunteering in Morris Park at the age of 17,” Jaffee said. “I have 32 years of documented experience working with senior citizens in the Morris Park community.”

Prior to reopening the St. Clare Senior Center, Jaffee had worked with senior citizens at the Morris Park Community Association’s senior center.

The senior center always packed in a very nice crowd, and had special events like trips to Atlantic City and holiday celebrations, said senior Clara Reda. She expects that the new center will be similar, and adding breath and depth to the lives of seniors in the Morris Park community.

“I am sure that we are going to be continuing on because Debra knows a lot of seniors and is active in every part of the Morris Park community,” Reda said.

The bingo and card games get seniors out of the house, which in and of itself is a good thing, said program participant Dolores Tricario.

“I missed my girls here at the senior center,” Jaffee said. “I consider these women my girls.”

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