For some, the options offered by the Hoboken Senior Services Department are a reason to get out of the house once in a while. For others, the games and trips to area casinos and malls are chances for older members of the community to socialize. But for most, it’s a combination of both.
The department offers a plethora of options for seniors in the city of Hoboken, including Tai Chi, knitting and crocheting, and yoga. But there is one activity that brings almost everybody out.
“The biggest thing down here is the bingo,” said Division Head Thomas Foley. “The seniors, they love their bingo.”
“The seniors, they love their bingo.” – Thomas Foley, Division Head of Senior Services
Trips to Atlantic City are also popular, as are pool trips to Secaucus.
One senior citizen, Cathy, said she attends four days of bingo every week, and has been doing so “with no complaints” for the last three and a half years.
“It’s a way to get out of the house,” she said. “When you live in a one-bedroom apartment, what do you do all day?”
In addition to trying to win the fairly competitive but friendly games of bingo, she said she sees the events as a way to “come down and talk to some people.”
Frances Bender, another senior in Hoboken, has also been attending bingo for approximately three and a half years. Bender said she likes to go to the different shows at the Fiesta and dinner at The Brownstone, just some of the trips sponsored by the city department in the past.
Bender emphasized the importance of the people who make up the department before competing in the first of 10 bingo games on Thursday afternoon. “Charlie Schultz calls the numbers; he’s great,” she said.
Cathy chimed in: “And Tom Foley is an excellent director. He really cares.”
Another bingo player is Helen, who says she has been playing for approximately eight years. Her favorite event is, you guessed it, bingo.
“[Foley] keeps us very busy,” Helen said. “There are excellent services and he’s an excellent leader.”
18 years in the department
Foley boasts a strong history in the department, and said he is always looking for ways to attract new seniors to the events.
“I’ve been working with the city for 18 years, and it’s always been with the senior department,” Foley said.
For the last seven years, Foley has served as the head of senior services. Before that time, he worked in medical transportation by the city for the seniors. The city offers to take seniors to the doctor, which is something Bender spoke about when listing the top services offered.
Foley’s dinner conversations with his wife reflect opposite ends of the spectrum of life.
“I joke with my wife because she’s a Pre-K teacher dealing with young kids and I run the senior services in Hoboken,” Foley said.
The funding for the department comes from the city and the county.
Foley isn’t afraid to try new things.
The seniors at bingo spoke about some of the classes that were tried, but didn’t quite make it, like Wii bowling.
“We have a mailing list and we always throw new ideas out there,” Foley said. “That’s how we got Tai Chi about two or three years ago.”
A relatively new program is the yoga class, which began in early summer of 2010.
“We also serve lunch everyday, and breakfast if they want to come for breakfast,” Foley said.
To help seniors who feel like they’re being left behind in the growing technological world, computer classes are offered for seniors at the Hoboken Public Library.
Sometimes guests come into speak to the seniors about different topics of senior life. On Jan. 6, the division presented a hearing loss seminar.
Bingo is held at the Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand St. The schedule for bingo is: Monday at 1 p.m., Tuesday at 10:45 a.m., Wednesday night at 6 p.m., Thursday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 10:45 a.m. Trips to area malls leave at 11 a.m. on Saturdays. Crocheting is at 10 a.m. on Wednesday’s, and Tai-Chi follows at noon.
“The knitting and crocheting has been going on for a while,” Foley said. “My aunt started in two or three years ago…they make their own blankets to give to the children’s ward at the hospital.”
Though it may not be as popular as some other events, the knitting classes do have a small but loyal group.
“You always get the same four or five people, but some people pop in to see what’s going on,” Foley said. “They catch an interest and learn about what’s going on.”
For more information about the services offered to the seniors in the community, join the mailing list by calling 201-420-2054.
But if you’re going to bingo, get there early, because at the start time, business gets serious.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com