‘The happiness in their faces’

130 Guttenberg seniors enjoy post-Mother’s Day luncheon

“It was beautiful,” said 70-year-old Ana Cabrera. “A beautiful day for the seniors.”
Indeed it was. Cabrera was one of about 130 Guttenberg ladies who met on May 14 at the Rumba Cubana Restaurant on Boulevard East for a festive luncheon.
“This is to celebrate Mother’s Day,” said Mayor Gerald Drasheff. As to why it wasn’t held on the official holiday, he explained, “You can’t do it on Mother’s Day. You can’t get in a restaurant on Mother’s Day.”
A few years ago Guttenberg held its first mom’s day luncheon at the Green Kitchen. This year the town decided to reinstate the event. With even more ladies in attendance, it was moved to the new Rumba Cubana.
“We arranged for a fixed menu with the place,” said Drasheff.
And it was a hit.

The best part

“My favorite part of the meal was those succulent pork chops. They were great,” said Eleanor Watson, who visits the restaurant regularly. “The abundance of rice would have fed three people.”
Watson, a 70-year-old retired flight service manager with American Airlines, moved to Guttenberg from Texas in 2010. She regularly receives notices of Guttenberg’s senior programs but this was the first time she participated.
“They usually have an excursion to go to the casinos,” she said. “I signed up once but then I canceled.”
Since she lives in the Galaxy Towers, directly across the street from the restaurant, she decided to give it a try.
It won’t be the last time.
“I met some people I never thought about meeting,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to sit with the drivers of the van. They told me about other things that go on.”
Marisol Acosta is assistant administrator for the Town of Guttenberg. Working with seniors is part of her job description. “I love them,” she said. “I love my job, I love what I do. I bring them here and give them a good time.”

“Usually municipalities give them a lousy stinkpot with a little flower for Mother’s Day that dies in an hour.” – Michael Caliguiro
According to Town Administrator and Director of Public Safety Michael Caliguiro, the Mother’s Day luncheon was paid for out of the Senior Citizens Affairs portion of the administrative budget. “I’ve been working in government for years,” he said, “and usually municipalities give them a lousy stinkpot with a little flower for Mother’s Day that dies in an hour. This is something else. Let’s go out for one day. Treat everybody. Everybody has a nice Mother’s Day.”
Ana Cabrera agrees. The former secretary at Anna Klein School has lived in Guttenberg for 48 years.
“They motivate us,” she said of the town’s seniors programs. “They keep us going.”
Asked what she liked best about the meal, Cabrera said, “My favorite part of the meal was the sharing with all the people, seeing the happiness in their faces, how happy they were.”

Land of opportunity

“We have a list of seniors in town,” said Mayor Drasheff. “About a year ago we started developing a database of all of our seniors so when we have an event like this it’s easy for us to get in touch with them. We either mail them or e-mail them.”
Margarita Fernandez received her invitation in the mail. “Any event that they have, I’m ready to go,” she laughed. “The mayor is great, and Marisol too.”
She especially appreciated the choice of Rumba Cubana as restaurant. “I’m from Cuba. I really enjoy the food. I go there frequently.”
At 85 years old, Fernandez has lived in Guttenberg for 17 years. “I’m in love with this country,” she said. “Fifty-four years I’ve been here. There’s a lot of opportunity. I came without anything. I worked hard, but I made it.”

Art Schwartz may be reached at arts@hudsonreporter.com.

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