Penn South Social Services (PSSS) is an independent organization founded in 1986 by leaders of the Penn South Co-op. It is a non-profit organization recognized by Federal, State and City government and foundations and given IRS status as a charitable organization – a 501(c)(3). Its board of directors are all residents of Penn South Co-op.
PSSS was founded to develop a social services organization that would sponsor social services for all residents of the co-op. Its first endeavor was to plan for a senior citizens program on site of the co-op, since at the time of its founding, senior citizens made up over 70% of all residents.
Following a research survey of all residents of the co-op and with the approval of the Penn South Co-op board of directors, PSSS was able to open up a new program for seniors called the Penn South Program for Seniors (PSPS). A foundation helped fund the program for the first two years and enabled PSSS to retain a large social services agency under UJA Federation to administer the program, including hiring a full professional staff and recruiting volunteers.
A comprehensive program was developed at PSPS offering social and health services, educational and cultural programs, trips and holiday celebrations, recreational and exercise classes, referral for legal and mental health services, and a variety of many other types of significant programs and services. It has been offering a full comprehensive program for seniors on site of the co-op ever since it first opened. Its health care and social services and care coordination programs are at the heart of the program.
The PSPS was the first program of its type in the USA. It became known as a NORC – a naturally occurring retirement community – in that its prime goal was to assist older people to age in place and continue to benefit from close social relationships in the co-op and all the program services. Our research indicated that this was what our older residents really wanted. The Penn South management team and the Penn South Board of directors were in favor of PSPS and how its older residents benefitted from all that PSPS offered. The board of the co-op voted to endorse the PSSS request for direct funding once the foundation support ended after two years.
Funds were raised from other sources, including contributions from co-op residents. By 1995, New York State began to fund NORC programs, including PSPS, since it was so clear that the program was very helpful to seniors and saved millions of public tax dollars by helping to keep seniors from having to move into a nursing home. In 2000, New York City and the Federal government began funding NORC programs, all public funding supporting the program model of PSPS. There are now NORC programs throughout the country serving millions of older people. NORC programs have been started in other countries as well.
The PSSS is involved in programs to serve all age groups at the co-op. It helped sponsor the Jeff Dullea Inter-
generational Garden at the co-op as well as other programs for all age groups. PSSS is interested in being of assistance and coordinating with all groups at the co-op and works to help these groups in whatever way it can. While our first priority is the older population of the co-op, we are mindful of the special needs of young parents, children, those having special individual or family problems, and those about to retire, etc.
A new offshoot of PSPS is its HOPS program – Home Organized Personal Services. HOPS has developed a program with the assistance of many companies and organizations whereby large discounts can be gotten for many services and products much needed by people and not covered by any form of insurance. For example, reduced prices for eyeglasses, hearing aids, home health aides, legal and insurance services, and many other products and services. A call to PSPS is all that is necessary. In 2010, HOPS expanded to all parts of New York City.
Two major aspects of PSPS are its cultural and educational programs. These programs stress the wellness part of life which is a major goal of PSPS. We encourage older people to continue with educational activities by offering a wide variety of classes, including exercise classes. In addition, PSPS offers a variety of cultural activities, such as painting, sculpture and pottery, singing and acting.
More recently, PSPS has sponsored services that assist residents with problems such as preventing falls at home – a very serious public health issue for older people – and a program to assist residents who clutter their homes. PSSS and the PSPS work very closely with the management of the co-op and the Penn South co-op board of directors. We welcome the participation of all residents in the PSPS as volunteers, as members of PSPS and as members of the PSSS board of directors and the PSPS advisory council.
PSSS has brought in an outstanding social service agency to administer the PSPS. The Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA), a major social services agency, works as a partner with us under our guidelines and policies. As a result, our programs and services are consistently rated at the highest levels and our staff is most committed to our residents.
A full history of PSSS and PSPS is available at PSSS and an annual report of its operations is also available. A monthly bulletin of all activities at PSPS is distributed for all residents of the co-op and a Web site will open in 2011. PSSS is also related to a national organization called the NORC Supportive Services Center, Inc. For more information on PSSS or PSPS call: 212-255-3570 (PSSS) or 212-243-3670 (PSPS). PSSS and PSPS have their offices in building #6: 280-290 9th Avenue.