Aging is not an option! Local social groups keep seniors active

Weehawken is fortunate enough to have a handful of groups that organize regular activities that keep the township’s golden aged residents active.

One of the groups is the Weehawken Senior Citizens Club, headed by President Shirley Kelly. The group just recently had its reinstallation of officers, with Mayor Richard Turner presiding.

Another social group is the Needles & Crafts Club, which doesn’t really focus on needles and crafts any longer and is headed by club President Jean Cocchio. The group meets twice a month and used to knit items for charity, but now offers trips and social activities for female senior citizens.

“We’re not knitting anymore,” said Cocchio, who has been the president of the Needles & Crafts Club for the last 11 years and has served as the vice-president of the Weehawken Senior Citizens Club for the last 17 years. “We’re more or less a social group now. We get together for the camaraderie.”

The other group, the Weehawken Senior Citizens Club, is a social group that was originally founded by the late Alfred Johnson, who organized trips and vacations. When Johnson passed away five years ago, many believed the group would fall by the wayside.

However, Shirley Kelly picked up the slack in Johnson’s absence, and the group continues to thrive. The Senior Citizens Club, which has both male and female members, goes on day trips all over, as well as organized group vacations.

But it leaves the Atlantic City vacations to the Needles & Crafts Club, which is comprised of 77 women. “Shirley [Kelly] and I made an agreement,” Cocchio said. “We only go to Atlantic City, while her group takes all the other trips. We work well together like that.”

Cocchio added, “We’re trying to look for new members, but women don’t necessarily want to admit that they’re senior citizens.”

Cocchio said the goal of both groups is simple.

“We just want to get the seniors out of their homes once in a while,” Cocchio said. “We offer the meetings and the trips as a way to keep everyone active. We all feel bad when we lose one, because it feels like we’re losing a member of the family.”

Cocchio said that she organizes parties from time to time, another way for the seniors to get together and stay together.

The organization of the two dedicated women makes the job of Carmela Facchini, the township’s senior citizen director, that much easier.

“Shirley and Jean are just wonderful women,” Facchini said. “They’re wonderful women and wonderful presidents. It’s nice that we have the two different groups that cooperate with the town and with the mayor.

They’re great ladies, and they’re very helpful.”

Separate organizations Both the Weehawken Senior Citizens Club and the Needles & Crafts Club are separate self-sufficient organizations and are run apart of any official township business.

“But they help to keep us in touch with our senior population,” Facchini said. “Both groups have nice membership, so that’s very good for communication.”

Turner believes that the senior groups serve different purposes.

“It’s not only a way for the seniors to have social events and stay active, but they also watch out for each other,” Turner said. “They network together and help each other. It’s residents helping residents. They provide vital services to our senior residents on their own. It’s a lot of work to provide entertainment and social activities, as well as helping a lot of people. It helps to take the burden off the town.”

Cocchio is also involved in the St. Lawrence Parish Social Club as well. Needless to say, she’s constantly on the go, juggling three different social clubs.

“It keeps me busy and keeps me going,” Cocchio said. “But I love it. It feels good to know that we’re able to help so many others.”

For more information on these organizations, or on senior activities in the town, call the township’s Senior Citizens department at (201) 319-6060.


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