Senior Talents Showcased – Visual and Performing Arts by Friends and Neighbors

On Friday June 14th The Second Acts Art Show had its opening reception. The Art Show featured visual artwork by members of Penn South Program for Seniors, Hudson Guild Adult Services and Elliot-Chelsea NORC. Many people from the community attended the opening, eager to view the works of the talented participants.

 Opening weekend of the art show also included an extraordinary talent show directed by Jim Furlong, Director of Arts. Performances were by members of the previously mentioned organizations. The unique performances included monologues and group sketches, vocalists singing show tunes and opera, and even several dance pieces including Middle Eastern belly dancing! The house was full at the Hudson Guild Theatre for both shows.

Although the Talent Show has ended, the Art Exhibit still hangs through July 20th. Don’t miss the opportunity to view the unique talent of our neighbors. The exhibit is in the Hudson Guild Lobby. Viewing hours are Tuesday – Friday from 10am until 7pm, and Saturdays from 1-4pm.

Roots & Branches: a preview of their new show “Home, Again”

Roots and Branches Theatre, an intergenerational community theater through the Tisch school of Art at NYU, gave Penn South Program for Seniors (PSPS) a sneak preview of their latest show, Home, Again. During PSPS’s Thursday Special on June 6th, the ensemble, which ranged in age from 12-92 years, presented selected scenes that reveal our homes as “more than shelters, but secrets, stories and states of mind,” as Rose Costello, a coordinator who brought this to PSPS stated. The presentation was not just passive entertainment, but audience members shared their own stories of home, making the afternoon enlightening and heartwarming.

All scenes that were performed depicted true stories from members of Roots and Branches or people they came in contact with through working in the community. They were stories of home and change within the home, as well as a finding one’s place in the community. For instance, one sketch portrayed the account of a daughter whose family owned a Jewish deli that was taken over by a Latino family. After being distraught over the take-over, assuming that the business’ integrity was doomed, she visited the site and was overwhelmed to learn not only of the hospitality of the new family owners, but that much of the same food was still being served in similar tradition. Though it was difficult to let go of what she knew of home, she was able to find home again in her broadened community.

As printed on the Tisch Community Connections website: “Roots & Branches is an intergenerational ensemble of theater artists ages 12-92, including actors, playwrights, designers, musicians, and directors that creates plays through an extensive workshop process where unique bonds between generations are formed.”

“R&B Intergenerational Theater builds understanding and respect between generations by challenging stereotypes about age and aging through original theater, workshops and other projects. Roots and Branches work springs from a fertile interaction that transcends boundaries of age, culture, religion and class.”

For more information about the organization, visit:

Below are some images of Roots and Branches performing at The Senior Center:


Myth Busters: an intergenerational play about ageism

On Wednesday, June 5th, Penn South Program for Seniors hosted an inspirational performance written and performed by the students of Chelsea Prep and the residents of Penn South. Funded by the Jeanette Solomon Fund and lead by director, Franklin Engel, the youth-senior team worked together once a week after school for 10 weeks in the PSPS library. Together, they wrote and rehearsed sketches about ageism. The show comprised of five short sketches based on the true stories of the group members’ experiences with ageism and aimed to correct misperceptions and attitudes that are all too common in our society. The performance also highlighted the fact that groups which seem opposite based on their ages actually have a lot in common with parallel experiences.

One scenario in the performance included a visit to the doctor where the professional spoke only to the middle aged parents of the child or to the children of the elders. The patients’ medical concerns and questions were ignored by the doctor who assumed the patients were too young or too senile to understand. Similarly, there was a scene at a grocery store where the clerk provided incorrect change and kicked the youth/senior out without listening to their protests, assuming it was they who could not count. Overall, there was a powerful lesson reminding us to listen to everyone, and remember that every individual is valuable and contributes importantly to our society.

On the day of the show, the Yalowitz Room of the Senior Center was packed with proud parents, family members, Penn South neighbors and friends. Although the message was important, the performances were delightful and enjoyed by all. The event was a great example of how several generations can come together and create something meaningful for all to enjoy.

Enjoy the pictures below!

Inspiration on a Thursday Afternoon

Penn South Program for Seniors (PSPS) is a program that a diverse group of people join to actively participate in an array of stimulating classes and partake in cultural events such as the one at PSPS on April 18th when they welcomed Ensemble ACJW to The Center for an afternoon of music and inspiration.

Performing as Ensemble ACJW, the musicians (Tom Bergeron on trumpet; Michelle Ross on violin; Megan Griffin on viola; Hannah Collins on cello; Doug Balliett on double bass) who came to Penn South to play as part of The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. The Academy supports young professional musicians in developing careers as top-quality performers innovative programmers, and dedicated teachers who are fully engaged with the communities in which they live and work.

The performance was on a Thursday afternoon during one of The Center’s regular Thursday Specials in the Yalowitz Room, the heart of PSPS. It was not only a performance of music ranging from Classical to Modern versions of inspired songs, but it was also a dialogue between the audience and players in a casual and intimate gathering reminiscent of the salon performances of Victorian days. The topic of discourse was a comparison of sounds between the likes of J.S. Bach and contemporary hip-hop artist, Jay-Z; Are their songs inspired, rip-offs or homages, and in what ways did the individuals create something original and fresh from the sounds of their predecessors?

At the end of the show, about 35 Penn South Cooperators mingled with the talented musicians, chatting and delighting one another through their love of the arts. This was one of many unique experiences at Penn South Program for Seniors. 

In Celebration of the Vision, Work and Dedication of Nat Yalowitz

In Celebration of the Vision, Work and Dedication of Nat Yalowitz
March 1, 2013

            On Wednesday, February 27th, Penn South cooperators gathered in a thankful celebration of the hard work, dedication and achievement of Nat Yalowitz, co-founder and 26-year board president of Penn South Social Services, Inc. Along with co-founder, David Smith, Nat identified the need for health and social services for the aging population of Penn South and created a place that has enhanced the quality of life for residents since 1986.

            Leading the festivities as M.C. was current board president, Bonnie Williams. Nat’s family, members of PSPS and the Co-op were also in attendance.  Several federal, state and local officials who have worked closely with Nat and PSSS over the years sent proclamations and letters. They included Congressman Jerold Nadler, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member  Jessica Lappin, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

            The community room was filled with about 75 chatty, happy people from the Penn South community, many of whom recounted their stories and appreciation for the work Nat has done not only for the residents, but with the residents. One such narrative was from Brendan Keany, the General Manager of the complex. With gratitude, he recalled the days when he was the Director of Maintenance, trying to meet the needs of the diverse individuals and families with all ten buildings. Knowing that senior population is so prevalent, and that they have unique needs, Nat approached Brendon to find out how they could work together to fulfill them.

            In the end, the celebration was fun for all, and meaningful for the community. To commemorate the unmatched dedication of Nat Yalowitz to the Penn South community, Room 1, the most utilized classroom of Penn South Program for Seniors, will henceforth be named The Nat Yalowitz Room.

Enjoy the slideshow below!

Thanksgiving Celebration 2012: A Reflection of a Wonderful Time

What a wonderful time Penn South Cooperators had, gathered together during the PSPS Thanksgiving Celebration! (And we have picture to prove it!)

On November 15th we celebrated Thanksgiving in Community Room 7A with a delectable meal catered by Mendy’s Kosher Deli as well as classical music, jazz, blues and even show tunes performed live by pianist, Eli Yamin.

Sun poured through the windows of the room, illuminating the decorated tables and hand-made decorations on the walls and tables. Perhaps the most prominent were the autumn flower centerpieces created by the PSPS Indoor Gardening Class. One lucky person from each table won the opportunity to take the arrangement with them to display in their own home!

We also had the pleasure of greeting our newly elected PSPS President, Bonnie E. Williams! She had just been voted in 2 days before the event and it was a great opportunity to meet her in person at such a celebration. A special guest from assemblyman, Richard Gottfried’s office, Hunter Johansson, also joined us at our celebration. He spoke to us before the meal was served, reminding us after Superstorm Sandy that we still have much to be thankful for, despite the difficulties we face.

The PSPS Thanksgiving Celebration was a great success and an inspiration to remind us how good life can be when we celebrate together as friends and neighbors. For those who were unable to join us this year, we hope you join us next year (or at any other event in the coming months, for that matter!).

Enjoy the images of the fun below!


Thanks, National Guard, OEM and New York Cares, for Hurricane Relief

Due to Hurricane Sandy, the past week and a half has been a challenge for so many New Yorkers, to say the least. The conditions were dangerous for our residents even after the wind and rain ended. Some lost power, the traffic lights and subways were not working and food stores were darkened and closed. Some of our residents were stuck inside with no way of getting necessities like food for themselves or their families.

Despite the chaos outside, volunteers from New York Cares made their way to our buildings on Friday, November 2nd, and delivered hundreds of “Meals Ready to Eat,” aka “MREs,” aka “Army Food” to the seniors who could not travel the great distances necessary just to find a meal. The National Guard supplied the meals, the Office of Emergency Management contacted New York Cares, and the NY Cares brought the packages to the Penn South Senior Center office, and hand-delivered the meals to each recipient’s home throughout the 10 buildings.

The volunteers were an exceptionally friendly and kind group of people who were welcomed into the homes of the cooperators. Not only did our residents enjoy the visit, but the volunteers had great experiences spending a little time with the talented and welcoming residents they met.

Thank you to the National Guard, Office of Emergency Management and volunteers from New York Cares who came to PSPS and brought some sunshine to our stormy week!

Concerts in Motion – Astounding Performance

Such an amazing performance by Ji Eun Anna Lee on October 24th!

Residents were enthralled and wowed by the 17-year-old violinist during the Concerts in Motion program last month. Anna played an eclectic classical set for Penn South cooperators with the musical prowess of a seasoned musician, but with the attitude and charm of a friendly teenager! The performance was as good as any you would see at Lincoln Center, but the atmosphere was casual and comfortable, as Anna described songs in her repertoire as “Beethoveny” or “Mozarty.” The rapport was easy and fun between her and the accompanist whom she has been playing with since she was 11 years old.

Scroll down to see a few photos from the event.

A little more about Ji Eun Anna Lee:
17-year-old violinist, Ji Eun Anna Lee has studied in the pre-college division of the Juilliard School since the age of 6. She has appeared on the stages of Carnegie, Alice Tully, and Avery Fischer Halls, and has been the recipient of the Jack Kent Cookie Young Artist and Young Scholar Awards. She made her conducting debut with the Peoria Symphony in November 2011, and in April 2011, made her New York Philharmonic debut as a soloist. In both 2010 and 2012, she claimed top prizes in the International Menuhin Competition.

Farmer’s Market Trip

The Union Square Farmer’s Market began a new program that provides tours of the market to seniors. The PSPS Gardening Class were selected to be the first group to receive a tour! The group had a blast visiting the booths, buying wholesome fruits and veggies and learning about local produce, bee farms and fresh meat producers!

Check out some of the photos from the trip:

Whitney Museum Portrait Pose

The Whitney Museum of Art has a regular workhop series here at PSPS. In the 2012 Summer Session, residents had a blast arranging a photo shoot starring their neighbors and “cooperators” wearing costume and posing based on actual comtemporary master pieces.

See the gallery below!